Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the 4 week period of preparation for Christmas. Here are 4 facts about this four week long season.
1) First of all, it is rarely 4 full weeks long! Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, and depending on what day of the week December 25th falls on, the season of Advent could be as short as 22 days!
2) The word advent in Latin means “coming.” It is a season to prepare for Christmas-when Christ’s first coming to us is remembered; AND it is a season to prepare for His second coming at the end of time.
3) The most common symbol for Advent is the Advent Wreath. The circle of evergreen represents everlasting life. The gradual lighting of the four candles, one on each Sunday of the Advent season, symbolizes Christ, “the Light that came into the world” to dispel the darkness of sin and to radiate the truth and love of God (cf. John 3:19-21).
Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles symbolize the prayer and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday which is a time of rejoicing, because it is the midpoint of Advent, when preparation is now half over and Christmas is close.
4) Advent…A “Little Lent?”
Both Western and Eastern Churches used to observe Advent with the traditional Lenten practices of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Giving alms to the poor and increasing our prayer life are still common today, but fasting has fallen by the wayside in the West, though the Eastern Orthodox and Easter Catholic churches continue to observe a strict Advent fast. This tradition of fasting is something to prayerfully reconsider undertaking.
An Advent Prayer: Dear God, be with us and guide us as we wait and prepare for the coming of your son-our savior Jesus. And may the light of His presence bring peace and joy to our hearts.