I thought I would share some reflections on Advent, taking into consideration the season begins today, so I start with a definition of Advent. The word “advent” (the arrival of an important person or thing) is from the Latin “adventus” which means “coming.” For Catholics, Advent is the four-week season leading up to Christmas. During Advent, we anticipate the coming of Jesus. It’s a time full of reflection, excitement and hope.
In today’s world the weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with holiday songs, seasonal sales, decorations, lights, and sometimes Advent wreaths and candles. Why and what are we celebrating? This year Advent takes on even more significance as we face the challenge of staying hope filled in the midst of the pandemic.
Advent gives us an incredible opportunity for a powerful encounter with Jesus. In her genius, the Church invites us during Advent to take a step back and look at who we are, what we are doing, and where Jesus fits into our lives. Jesus came into this world at that first Christmas for us, to bring meaning and deep satisfaction into our life, to fill you with lasting joy, and ultimately to bring us to eternal happiness in heaven. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas. Are you ready?
Advent officially begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on December 24. It marks the beginning of the Catholic Church’s calendar year. We have a little shorter Advent this year. Christmas Eve is the Fourth Tuesday of Advent, with Christmas falling on Wednesday. 4 weeks isn't long, but that still leaves plenty of time to spend some quiet time preparing for Jesus’ coming. Common Advent traditions include an Advent calendar, the Advent wreath, and special Advent prayers.
What Is an Advent Wreath? During Advent and Christmas, festively decorated evergreen wreaths hang in windows and on doors everywhere. The familiar symbol of the season is the Advent wreath adorned with four candles (usually three purple and one pink). Traditionally, the Advent wreath is a circle of evergreen branches. Both the evergreen branches and the circular shape symbolize the passing of time and eternal life. The shape of the wreath, with no beginning or end, reflects the complete and endless love that Jesus has for us, we eagerly anticipate his coming and the promise of eternal life in heaven with him.
What is the meaning of Advent Candles? As a Christian tradition, the wreath holds the four Advent candles. The candles represent Jesus coming as the light in darkness. One candle is lit each Sunday until all four candles are lit, and sometimes a fifth candle is lit on Christmas. As Christmas draws nearer, each candle brings a little more light into the darkness.
Each of the candles represents an aspect of preparation during the season of Advent. The purple candles represent Hope, Peace and Love, and the pink is for Joy.
What is Advent all about, let’s me turn to Scripture for a direct summary of why we celebrate Advent: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Let us continue to pray for and take action to bring about peace in our world!
In peace and courage,
PS – Several years ago I visited the Albert Einstein moument in Washington, it is just off the Mall across the street from the Viet Nam memorial. It is a image of Einstein just sitting there looking at the world, it is worth a stop.