The season of Advent is an important season in the Liturgical Calendar. The season of Advent encompasses the four weeks prior to Christmas.
The word Advent derives from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”; this refers to the next season, Christmas.
Advent serves two purposes in the Church, two of them are:
- Advent begins the Church year. The First Sunday of Advent is the New Year’s Day of the Church’s liturgical year.
- More importantly, Advent is the liturgical period of preparation and penitence for the Christmas Season. It is not nearly as somber as Lent, but it does call us to reflect upon the impending mystery of the Incarnation, God becoming human.
As the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explains about Advent “…is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas).”
Are there any activities that an individual or a family can perform during Advent?
- Advent calendar – a popular way to count down the days until Christmas, especially in families that have small children.
- Advent wreath – a wreath made of evergreens, usually. The wreath holds four equally spaced candles, the three purple ones lit on the “penitential” Sundays and a pink one for Gaudete Sunday, the joyful third Sunday in Advent.
- Jesse Tree – the Jesse tree tells about Christ’s ancestry through symbols and relates Scripture to salvation history, progressing from creation to the birth of Christ. The tree can be made on a poster board with the symbols glued on or use an actual tree.
How can a person make Advent a more meaningful season?
We can do many things that can make Advent much more meaningful on a personal, family and a communal level:
- Attempt to pray the Divine Office on a daily basis.
- Attend daily Mass so that you can hear Scripture read and examined or interpreted.
- Try to do readings from Scripture that associate with the theme of the season. Read from the prophet Isaiah, for example. Look in the missalette for the daily Mass readings.
- Have the youngest child in the family, on a daily basis, read a passage from Scripture that reflects the Advent calendar.
- Celebrate an Advent wreath ceremony on a weekly basis. There are many available prayers and hymns found on-line that could accompany this ceremony. See the list below.
- Use these Lectio Divina guides to meditate, contemplate, and pray on your spiritual preparation for Advent and Christmas.
- Lectio Divina for the First Sunday of Advent
- Lectio Divina for the Second Sunday of Advent
- Lectio Divina for the Third Sunday of Advent
- Lectio Divina for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Blessing of an Advent Wreath – http://usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/sacramentals-blessings/objects/blessing-of-an-advent-wreath.cfm
The Religion Teacher – http://www.thereligionteacher.com/advent-activities/
The Bible – http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/_INDEX.HTM
Divine Office – http://divineoffice.org/
Inclusion of these sites does not mean that I and/or the parish endorse any view promoted by the website. Some of these websites offer materials for purchase; please do so at your own risk!
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/advent/index.cfm. 2019.Web.Dec. 1, 2019.