Kianna Garmanian, Staff Writer
Merry Christmas–but wait, before we talk about Christmas, we have to take a look at the important liturgical season that comes before Christmas. Advent, or the season of preparation for the birth and coming of Jesus Christ, marks the beginning of the liturgical year for the Catholic Church. Basically, it’s New Year’s for the Catholic Church.
On Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, the first of the four weeks of Advent officially begins. Each of the four weeks symbolizes a distinct theme or message. Perhaps you have seen an Advent wreath that is decorated with four candles, three purple and one pink. Each of these candles also represent a specific theme for the week.
Let’s begin with the first week of Advent, starting Sunday, Dec. 2. A purple candle, which symbolizes penance, reminds us to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. The theme for this week is hope, or the anticipation of Jesus’ coming. The first reading for this Sunday comes from Jeremiah 33 and states: “The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.” Making way for the arrival of Christ, the Gospel message from Luke 21 reads: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.” With the hope of Christ entering the world, we not only celebrate his birth, but also prepare our hearts for his second coming. As Christians, we are invited to examine our own lives and reflect on these truths and the ways in which we are living.
The second week of Advent, starting Sunday, Dec. 9, is also represented by a purple candle. The theme for this week is faith, which reminds us to not only trust in Christ and his coming, but to remain faithful to him in our everyday lives. The second reading for this Sunday comes from Philippians 1: “And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Faith in Jesus is the act of believing without seeing, of trusting without fully knowing, and of consecrating oneself to the heart of our Lord.
The third week of Advent, Sunday, Dec. 16, is represented by a pink candle, which symbolizes joy. By preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ on Christmas, there is great joy to be found. Mindful of the joy of Jesus’ coming and the joy of his birth, we are invited to spend time reflecting on the joy of Christ in our hearts, which is the theme for this week. The Responsorial Psalm from Isaiah 12 proclaims: “Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.”
The fourth week of Advent, Sunday, Dec. 23, marks the final days before Christmas. Represented by a purple candle, the theme for this week is peace, which describes Christ, the Prince of Peace, who is to come. Our savior not only brings true peace but will act as the salvific light in our broken and imperfect world. The Responsorial Psalm comes from Psalm 80: “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.”
This Advent season, we each are invited to look into our own hearts and prepare the way for the coming of Christ. By reflecting on the distinct themes for each of the four weeks of Advent, we can be more open to receiving Jesus, the light of the world, into our lives. Here are some questions to reflect on this Advent season: Am I living my life the way Christ wants me to live? How am I bringing about goodness in this world? Am I serving others? How can I better prepare my heart, mind, and soul for Christ? Do I truly believe in Jesus and his plans for me? Am I living with sincere faith and trust? How can I deepen my relationship with Christ?
Wishing you all a blessed Advent season and a very Merry Christmas. May our Lord be with all of you.