Advent, this powerful liturgical season that we are beginning, invites us to pause in silence to understand a presence. It is an invitation to understand that the individual events of the day are hints that God is giving us, signs of the attention he has for each one of us.
Benedict XVI, Homily at First Vespers of Advent,
November 28, 2009
Beginning the Church's liturgical year, Advent (from, "ad-venire" in Latin or "to come to") is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas).¹
Questions: What are the colors of Advent?
In the Roman Catholic Church, the official liturgical color for most of the Season of Advent is violet. It is used in both Advent and Lent to signify a time of preparation, prayer, penance and sacrifice. Only on the Third Sunday of Advent is a rose (pink) colored candle lit, as a symbol of joy; the priest may also wear rose vestments on this Sunday.
Advent devotions including the Advent wreath, remind us of the meaning of the season. An advent wreath can be purchased or made as a family. The wreath is tradionally a circle of evergreens, symbolizing the eternal and never-ending life we have in Christ. In recent years, advent candles places in a row on a mantle have become more popular and are an acceptable form of a "wreath" to use in commemorating Advent.
Each of the four candles placed in the wreath have a special significance and deeper meaning:
More Advent resources are listed below.¹
An ancient tradition revived in the mid-20th century as an Advent practice, the Jesse Tree represents the family of Jesse, father of King David. Out of this family line, God would take flesh and live among the people of earth. The Gospel of Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (Mt 1:1-17) names a person from each generation before Jesus’ birth. Stories about these people are in the Old Testament. The Jesse Tree itself can be made from paper, cloth, branches or a tabletop Christmas tree. Make or add an ornament each day of Advent to represent the ancestors of Jesus.²
Our Advent calendar above can help you fully enter in to the season with daily activity and prayer suggestions to prepare you spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ.