Advent: Prepare the Way

by | Dec 11, 2023 | Church, Prayer, Society, Spirituality, Teachings

Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

While it may feel like Christmas season has been here since before Halloween, Catholics still aren’t quite there! Yes, we are all putting up our decor and trees and shopping for gifts. But, we are celebrating a different season as we prepare for December 25th: The season of Advent!

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Traditionally, Catholics put out wreathes with four candles on them during the four weeks leading to Christmas. Each Sunday during those four weeks, we light an additional candle on our wreathes. There are always three violet candles and one rose candle.

The violet candles symbolize the call to penance and prayer. Have you ever noticed that we use purple for both lent and advent? Leading both to Easter and Christmas? We all think of lent as a season of penance with traditional fasting. Advent is a less-commonly known time of penance and prayer as well. In the midst of the festive secular season, we often forget that advent is a time to prepare the way for the coming of our king. Humanity fasted and prayed for 4,000 years waiting for the Messiah (which is why we have four candles). We are called to fast and pray as well in the four weeks leading to Christmas.

Unlike lent, when we generally abstain from something as penance, Catholics often add something to their routine during advent. We can prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ through extra prayer.  Saying the rosary several times a week, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or reading the Bible are great examples.

The rose candle is called the “Shepherd’s Candle.” It is rose to signify the joy of the season as we prepare for the coming of Christ, our Shepherd. We are reminded as we wait for the savior to rejoice in assurance God will never abandon us. Finally, the wreath itself symbolizes the unending love of the Lord. It is circle without beginning or end. While there are many styles of wreathes available, evergreen is a symbol of life. Holly berries symbolize the hidden beauty of the Crown of Thorns, and pine cones represent Christ’s resurrection.

“You are the light of the world … let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

As we walk through this season of advent, we prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. We should live as His light in the world. Catholics should spread His light like the candles on the wreath.

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Michelle C. Martin

Michelle graduated from Texas Tech University with her husband, Joshua, in May 2021 and married him in June on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She has a degree in Communication Studies and has loved growing in knowledge of healthy and authentic relationships during her time in college and adulthood. Michelle and Joshua currently reside in Lubbock, TX where he works as an architect and she loves life as a stay-at-home wife and mother to their children, Peter and Cecilia.

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