Advent: A Time of Preparation
In the Catholic Church, Advent is a period of preparation, extending over four Sundays, before Christmas. The word Advent comes from the Latin advenio, "to come to," and refers to the coming of Christ. This refers, first of all, to our celebration of Christ's birth at Christmas--it was when the Son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the immaculate Virgin Mary, was born, according to the flesh, in the fullness of time, and sanctified the world by His coming, for which the patriarchs and prophets had so longed (Gen. 49:10; Is. G4:1; Lk. 10:24). It also refers to the coming of Christ in our lives through grace and the Sacrament of Holy Communion; and finally, to His Second Coming in judgement at the end of time.
That's why Advent has traditionally been known as a "little Lent." As in Lent, Advent should be marked by increased prayer, fasting, and good works. While the Western Church no longer has a set requirement for fasting during Advent, the Eastern Church, both Catholic and Orthodox, continues to observe what is known as Philip's Fast, from November 15 until Christmas.
In its symbolism, the Church continues to stress the penitential and preparatory nature of Advent.
As during Lent, priests wear violet vestments, and the Gloria ("Glory to God") is omitted during Holy Mass. The only exception is on the Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday, when priests can wear rose-colored vestments. As on Laetare Sunday during Lent, this exception is designed to encourage us to continue our prayer and fasting, because we can see that Advent is more than halfway over.
Perhaps the best-known of all Advent symbols is the Advent wreath, a custom which originated among German Lutherans but was soon adopted by Catholics.
Consisting of four candles (three purple and one pink) arranged in a circle with evergreen boughs (and sometimes a fifth, white candle in the center), the Advent wreath corresponds to the four Sundays of Advent. The purple candles represent the penitential nature of the season, while the pink candle calls to mind the respite of Gaudete Sunday. (The white candle, when used, represents Christmas)
The "Saint Andrew Christmas Novena" is often called simply the "Christmas Novena" because it is prayed 15 times every day from the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (30m November) until Christmas. Prayed as a family, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is a very good way to help focus the attention of your children on the Advent season and it is believed whoever recites this prayer with a pious heart 15 times a day from the Feast of Saint Andrew until Christmas, will obtain any favor reuqested if in accord with God's Divine Will:
"Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen."
Saturday 12 December is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the unborn. Now more than ever, as followers of Christ we must stand up for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. As the holy season of Advent begins, please join us for a vigil of prayer on Our Lady's feast to ask Her intercession the sanctification of our nation and for the protection of the unborn. The prayer vigil will be from 7-9 PM on Saturday the 12th of December and will consist of Eucharistic Adoration, a Rosary for Life, meditations and time for private prayer. Present in the sancruray will be a blessed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The prayer vigil will conclude at 9:00PM.
Ad Iesum per Mariam--To Jesus through Mary!
9 AM and 5:30 PM (Sunday Vigil)
Saturday, 4:00 to 5:15 PM and 6:30 to 7:00 PM or at the Rectory by appointment