WHAT IS ADVENT?
Advent is a liturgical season consisting of four Sundays leading up to Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve. It is an Old English word coming from the Latin adventus (arrival) or advenire (to come). It is a special time dedicated to the remembrance of Jesus’ coming as a baby over 2,000 years ago.
WHEN DOES ADVENT START?
Advent starts on the nearest Sunday to 30th November and lasts until midnight on Christmas Eve.
Christians across the world prepare to celebrate the arrival of the Lord into the world through the birth of His son Jesus Christ. Advent is a time to celebrate light in the midst of darkness.
WHAT IS AN ADVENT WREATH?
The Advent Wreath is an evergreen wreath with 4 candles (3 purple and 1 rose). The candles are lit every night during Advent, 1 candle the first week, then an additional candle for each successive week.
WHAT THE COLOURS OF THE CANDLES REPRESENT
The candles also have their own special significance. The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, and one candle is lit each Sunday. Three of the candles are purple because the colour violet is a liturgical colour that signifies a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice.
The first candle, which is purple, symbolizes hope. It is sometimes called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah.
The second candle, also purple, represents faith. It is called the “Bethlehem Candle” as a reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
The third candle is pink and symbolizes joy. It is called the “Shepard’s Candle,” and is pink because rose is a liturgical colour for joy.
The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday and is meant to remind us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy that the faithful have reached the midpoint of Advent.
On the fourth week of Advent, we light the final purple candle to mark the final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Saviour. This final candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” symbolizes peace. It reminds us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”
Sometimes a white candle is placed in the middle of the wreath and lit on Christmas Eve. This candle is called the “Christ Candle” and represents the life of Christ. The colour white is for purity—because Christ is our sinless, pure Saviour.
HOW TO LIGHT YOUR ADVENT WREATH
1. Make the Sign of the Cross. As with any prayer or Catholic ritual, you should begin by making the Sign of the Cross.
2. Light the appropriate number of candles:-
In the first week of Advent light 1 purple candle
In the second week of Advent light 2 purple candles
In the third week of Advent light 2 purple candles and 1 rose candle
In the fourth week, light all 4 candles
3. Many families have adopted the following custom:-
The youngest child lights the candle in the first week
The oldest child lights the candle in the second week
The mother lights the candles in the third week
The father lights the candles in the fourth week
4. Pray the Advent Wreath Prayer for the Week.
Advent Wreath Prayer for the First Week of Advent:
"Bestir, O Lord, Thy might, we pray thee and come; that, defended by Thee, we may deserve rescue from approaching dangers brought on by our sins, and being set free by Thee, obtain our salvation. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen."
Advent Wreath Prayer for the Second Week of Advent:
"Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son, that through His coming we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen."
Advent Wreath Prayer for the Third Week of Advent:
"Incline Thine ear to our prayers, O Lord, we beseech Thee; and make bright the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen."
Advent Wreath Prayer for the Fourth Week of Advent:
"Bestir, O Lord, Thy might, we beseech Thee, and come; and with great power come to our aid, that, by the help of Thy grace, that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen."
5. Leave the Advent Wreath Burning. Many families light the Advent wreath before dinner and leave it burning throughout dinner. You can also light it before private or family prayer.
6. Extinguish the Candles. After dinner and/or your Advent devotions, carefully extinguish all of the candles on the Advent wreath.
7. End with the Sign of the Cross.
WHAT IS ADVENT RECONCILIATION
Reconciliation is the sacrament Jesus gave us to forgive our sins. It is a way of renewing and. refreshing our relationship with God. During confession, we are given a chance to ask God for forgiveness for anything we may have done wrong.