Advent: The Church’s New Year
Happy New Year! Wait...what? It’s not January 1 you might say. However, with the start of Advent, the Catholic Church begins a new liturgical year.
Advent is one of two seasons in the Church where it is a time of waiting, preparation, and penance. Lent is the other season.
During the four weeks of Advent, we eagerly anticipate and prepare for the birth of Jesus.
The season of Advent is joyous and hopeful as we light candles, finding warmth in the cold, dark winter days. There are many traditions that we have during Advent including, but not limited to, the Advent wreath.
The first Sunday of the Advent we light the first purple candle on the wreath, which represents hope. We hope in anticipation of the birth of Christ but also celebrate the beginning of a new liturgical season.
Purple, the primary color of Advent, symbolizes royalty, the royalty of the king who will soon come.
The second Sunday of Advent we light the second purple candle representing peace. This candle reminds us of Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem before Mary gave birth to Jesus.
The third Sunday of Advent we light the pink candle, symbolizing joy. It is also called “Gaudete Sunday” meaning rejoice or praise. As we continue to approach Christmas, our joy grows more and more in anticipation just like the shepherds who journeyed to see Jesus in Bethlehem even before the wise men.
The last Sunday of Advent we light the final purple candle representing love, the ultimate love of God that He might send His only Son for us.
Often times we also see an Advent wreath with a white candle in the center. This candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins. His birth was for his death and his death was for our birth. As we enter this new year, and the season of Advent, may we do so with hope, peace, joy, and love for all that awaits us in the birth of the Jesus Christ, Our King.
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