Advent has been with us from the earliest days of the life of the Church. It is a season of expectation and anticipation for the return of Christ. Advent has varied some over the years, but I think symbolically it is one of the most beautiful seasons of the Church.
It has a penitential aspect to us. The color of penance is purple. If you consider the second and third Sunday of Advent, you have St. John the Baptist on the calendar, with a call to repentance and preparation for the birth of Christ.
[On the Advent wreath…]
There are really some beautiful prayers for the blessing of the Advent wreath and the lighting of the first candle, both at Mass and at home. I encourage folks to get an Advent wreath for their home and light it at dinner with their families.
When the season is more than half over, given the third Sunday of Advent, it means the birth of Christ is near and there is a reason to begin rejoicing.
The penitential color of the candle is lightened from purple to a dusty rose and the third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday, which means “rejoice.” It’s an exclamation, an imperative.
Advent has a quiet beauty to it. It’s a time of rest and of reflection on what we’re all about. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the coming of Christ and our lives and our preparation for that.
The season has a way of touching people’s hearts in a way that perhaps event Easter cannot. With Christmas, come memories of families, and how you’ve been, and your own relationship with God. I always, especially on Christmas Eve, I always try to welcome people and thank them for coming. I say you’re always welcome here and this season is for all of us to find God once more in our lives.
My first four years as a priest, from 1981 to 1985 (in Rome), the symbols of the season were everywhere in Italy. I was away from home for the first time. I was walking around the city of Rome. It was cold and rainy. I’d stop in a church or a store and there was the Advent wreath. It pointed me to a reality far beyond where I was.
Advent, with its symbols, says look! There is another way. You don’t have to live in this constant turmoil. Look to us. Look to Christ. Look to this way of living.
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