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What is Advent?

The word Advent is from the Latin adventus for "coming" and is associated with the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. Advent always contains four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30) and continuing until December 24.

In 2022, Advent begins on November 27 and ends on December 24 (Christmas Eve), as the Mass of the Lord’s Nativity begins. Christmas Day is December 25.


Why do we celebrate Advent?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 524) says, When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, but I must decrease."

Why is Advent important to the Catholic Church?

This is a period of preparation for the celebration of the Incarnation at Christmas. As Christmas seems to arrive commercially ever earlier each year, the faithful should try to turn our hearts more toward the Lord. Mother Angelica, the foundress of EWTN, once said, Let's not let the season pass without a depth of spirituality in our hearts that lets us ponder. Ponder the mystery of how, and why, this Omnipotent God, before Whom angels tremble, would come down and live nine months in the most pure and holy woman that ever lived, and ever will live. He was confined in a womb with that Infinite Intelligence, Infinite Power, and the Power of the Holy Spirit.

"In Advent, Christians relive a dual impulse of the spirit: on the one hand, they raise their eyes towards the final destination of their pilgrimage through history, which is the glorious return of the Lord Jesus; on the other, remembering with emotion His birth in Bethlehem, they kneel before the Crib." - Pope Benedict XVI

How do you prepare yourself during Advent?

First, it is a good idea to pray more, possibly including the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, the Franciscan Crown, and the Christmas Novena (see below), all of which call to mind the mysteries associated with the Lord coming into the world. It is also important to read Sacred Scripture, especially the Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, chapters 2 and 3 of the Second Part on the Creed, expresses the Church's Faith in the Incarnation and Nativity of the Lord. Finally, to truly prepare, it is important to go to Confession at least once during the season, and maybe go to daily Mass and do Eucharistic Adoration when you are able.

How do you observe Advent?

Advent is considered the Little Lent, as it begins by recalling that Christ will come at the end of the world as Judge, a reminder of the holiness with which we should be prepared to greet the Lord. Thus, although not strictly a penitential season, the faithful should turn their hearts toward Jesus in prayer, almsgiving, and sacrifice. In the last part of Advent, we look forward with anticipation and joy to His First Coming, in Bethlehem. One way to do this is to meditate on the O Antiphons used in the Mass, each of which represents a messianic title of Christ from the Old Testament.

"Don't get hurried. There may be something that I have to leave undone, then let it be undone. Just don't lose the essence of this season so that you really are alive with Jesus in the Womb of His Mother. Hidden, growing, patient, waiting; waiting for the birth in our lives - that birth of Jesus that makes Him radiate through us, that makes our wills one." - Mother Angelica

What are the Advent symbols?

There are many symbols for Advent: the Advent calendar, Advent wreath with candles, the Jesse Tree, and the Crèche - with the Baby Jesus absent until Christmas Eve. Each of these can be the basis of a family tradition, especially to teach children how to prepare for Jesus' Birth.

Why is purple used in Advent?

The liturgical year has different colors for the different seasons. Redemptionis Sacramentum (No. 121) says, "The purpose of using different colors is to express the specific character of the various mysteries. The use of the diverse colors is both pedagogical and symbolic of the various liturgical feasts and seasons." Violet or purple, a symbol of suffering and penitence, is therefore the liturgical color used in Advent and in Lent.

"Advent is a journey towards Bethlehem. May we let ourselves be drawn by the light of God made man." - Pope Francis

What do the four candles of the Advent wreath represent?

The candles indicate the different weeks of Advent. When you are in the first week of Advent, you light one purple candle, and for the second week, two purple candles. During the third week, you add the rose candle. Then for the final week, you light all four candles. These colors match the liturgical colors of the vestments for those weeks, with purple representing penance and rose representing rejoicing. The Advent Wreath brings to mind the time before Jesus, when the world was in spiritual darkness. During Advent, we remember the Old Testament days as we anxiously anticipate His Birth at Christmas.

Which candle do you light first on Advent?

First Week: A purple candle Second Week: A second purple candle, in addition to the first week's candle Third Week: The first two week's candles and the rose or pink candle Fourth Week: All four candles