While the secular world has already started counting down the days and basically celebrating Christmas, decorating their houses, putting up Christmas trees and doing their Christmas shopping, the Christian World just celebrated its new year with the beginning of Advent.
The word Advent derives from Latin, meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival.’ Jesus is coming, and Advent is intended to be a season of preparation for His arrival. The Catholic Church's liturgical season of Advent is a sacred time for prayer and quiet reflection as we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth.
However, Advent is much more than recalling the humble beginning and birth of our Lord and Savior. We are also preparing for His future coming as we anticipate and look toward Christ's Second Coming as judge of the world at the end of time.
Each Monday at the school we will gather around the Advent wreath in our school gymnasium. We will light the candle for the week and take time to sing, pray and remember exactly what it is we are preparing for on Christmas Day, when the church actually begins the season of Christmas.
The Advent wreath serves as a powerful visual reminder of the holiness of the season. It is shaped in a perfect circle to represent the eternity of God. The four candles used, three purple and one pink, mark the Sundays of Advent before Christmas. The purple candles are reminders that this should be a time of prayer and sacrifice to prepare us for the second coming of Christ. On the third Sunday, the pink candle is lit to announce Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday of rejoicing for Christ is coming near.
As you prepare for the coming of Christ on Christmas morning, remember to put time aside to participate in Advent. It is a time for charity and generosity for those in need. Make sure to reserve and put aside special time for extra prayer and reflection. Advent is also a time to fast and focus on one’s own spirituality. Finally, Advent is a time to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and take a renewed interest in and a focus on the beauty of the Liturgy.
When the final candle is lit on the wreath and Advent comes to a successful completion, it will be time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the beginning of the Christmas season.
Randy Hodge is the High School Principal at St. Patrick School.