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“Prepare the way for The Lord”: Advent – A Tradition Rooted in History and Significance for the Catholic Church

December 1, 2023

In the heart of the holiday season, the Catholic Church observes Advent, a time-honored tradition that dates back centuries and holds deep significance for believers around the world.

Advent, derived from the Latin word “adventus,” meaning “coming” or “arrival,” marks the beginning of the liturgical year in the Catholic Church. This season typically spans the four weeks leading up to Christmas, with each week representing a different theme: hope, peace, joy, and love. The observance commences on the Sunday closest to November 30, the feast day of Saint Andrew, and concludes on December 24. This year, Advent will begin on Sunday December 3rd.

The roots of Advent can be traced back to the 4th and 5th centuries in Gaul (modern-day France), where Christians engaged in a period of fasting and penance before Christmas. Over time, the practice evolved to incorporate the liturgical elements we recognize today, including the Advent wreath, candles, and readings.

The Advent wreath, a circular arrangement of evergreen branches with four candles, symbolizes the eternal nature of God’s love and the light of Christ breaking through the darkness. The candles represent each week of Advent, with one lit each Sunday. The first candle symbolizes hope, the second peace, the third joy, and the fourth love. A fifth candle, often white, is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, symbolizing the arrival of Christ, the Light of the World.

Advent serves as a period of reflection, anticipation, and preparation for the faithful. It invites Catholics to enter into a season of prayer, repentance, and joyful expectation as they await the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. In addition to the liturgical customs, many families incorporate daily Advent calendars, devotional readings, and acts of kindness to deepen their spiritual connection.

As the Catholic Church globally celebrates Advent, the faithful are reminded to embrace the spirit of hope, peace, joy, and love, not only during this sacred season but throughout the entire liturgical year. This cherished tradition remains a powerful reminder of the profound significance of Christ’s coming and the enduring light that dispels the darkness in the hearts of believers worldwide.

As we approach the first Sunday of advent, each member of the Congregation takes extra time to reflect on the topics of hope, peace, joy, and love, as well as dedicate more time to praying for their abundance in the world, and participating in their communities to realize the God’s vision of a people united in love and faith.

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