Why Do We Celebrate the Advent?

Christmas is just around the corner and we are now starting the season in the Christian calendar called “Advent.” But why does the Church celebrate Advent? Why do we light candles at church? These questions fill the minds of many worshipers during the month of December, so let' tackle why the church celebrates Advent and why it matters.

Take Time to Slow Down

For most of the society, Christmas is about going from party to party, store to store, and one special event to another. However, Advent teaches us that we also need to slow down. We must take a look at our lives and prepare for Jesus coming. Far too often we live life at a pace that is not sustainable, and Advent reminds us to slow our pace.

It's Time to Wait

In Advent, let's take a break and prepare our hearts as we remind ourselves that even in the midst of this pandemic, we are called to live in the tension of waiting and receiving. Not only does Advent help us prepare properly for the coming of Christ in Christmas, but it also gives us time and space to ponder and anticipate the second coming (or Advent) of Jesus, the time when He returns to our world and, as the book of Revelation says, “makes all things new.”

Advent helps us prepare for Christ’s coming in the manger, but it also reminds us that Jesus is coming again in glory and that we need to orient our lives around preparing for that.

We live in a society of microwave foods, drive-thru windows, and two-day shipping. Yet, like a mother who waits nine months for the birth of her child, Christians live in the waiting of Christ coming as a baby in Christmas and as a King in His final return. In Advent we wait, anticipate, and long for the joy that proclaims,

The Use of Wreath

The use of the wreath and candles during Advent is a longstanding Catholic tradition that was originally adopted by Christians in the Middle Ages as part of their spiritual preparation for Christmas.

The wreath and candles symbolize tied to the Christmas season. The wreath itself, which is made of various evergreens, signifies continuous life. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life we find in Christ.

The candles also have their own special significance. The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, and one candle is lit each Sunday. Three of the candles are purple because the color violet is a liturgical color that signifies a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice.

The first candle, which is purple, symbolizes hope. Sometimes it is called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

The second candle, also purple, represents faith. It is called the “Bethlehem Candle” as a reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.

The third candle is pink and symbolizes joy. It is called the “Shepard’s Candle,” and is pink because rose is a liturgical color for joy. The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday and is meant to remind us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy that the faithful have reached the midpoint of Advent.

On the fourth week of Advent, we light the final purple candle to mark the final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Savior. This final candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” symbolizes peace. It reminds us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

All in all, celebrating Advent is an excellent way to prepare your mind and heart for Christmas. 

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