Once again, the Church begins a new year with the start of the season of Advent. Some parts of Advent are familiar: the Advent wreath, Advent calendars, and the colors purple and pink. But what is Advent?
Well, there are really two aspects to the season. First, there is the sense of anticipation and preparation. But this is not a preparation for Christmas, but a preparation designed to focus our attention on the Second Coming of Jesus. Second, there is our recalling the miraculous Incarnation, which is the celebration of Christmas.
The season is, then, about the beginning of the Messiah’s arrival on earth and the end of time when Jesus returns in all his glory in his Second Coming. So the season is an interplay between the “already here” (the arrival of Jesus) and the “not yet fully realized” (the Second Coming of Jesus).
The catechism of the Catholic Church says this: “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.” (524)
There are also liturgical changes we will see. Many churches have an Advent wreath. People will notice the priest wearing purple vestments (or violet if you prefer). The one exception to purple vestments may be Gaudete Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent), when the priest wears pink (or rose if you prefer). Gaudete Sunday is why one of the candles on the wreath is pink. It is also the case that the Gloria is not said. Gaudete is the imperative form of the verb, to rejoice, and so Gaudete Sunday is Rejoice Sunday.
The Season of Advent is a special time where the celebration of the Sacrament of Confession is made more available. Many parishes have communal celebrations with the chance to celebrate the sacrament individually. This serves as a reminder that preparing our soul is the best way to prepare for the coming of Jesus.
Each day during the season of Advent there will be posted a reflection written by the students, faculty, or staff at Christian Brothers College High School. Go to the CBC web page, cbchs.org for each day’s reflection. If you would like to listen to an audio podcast of each reflection, visit thefriar.org. Have a happy Advent!