Advent is a time of profound spiritual reflection and preparation. During Advent we anticipate the coming of Jesus as a baby. Advent officially begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on December 24. It marks the beginning of the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar year. This year Advent begins on Sunday, December 3, 2023. Christmas Eve is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas falling on a Monday. Four weeks isn’t long, but that still leaves plenty of time to spend some quiet time preparing for Jesus’ coming.
The four weeks of advent:
The four Sunday’s of advent each have a specific theme or focus. The purpose of each theme is to spend time reflection on the true meaning of the season.
- First Sunday of Advent Week 1: Hope (or promise)
- Second Sunday of Advent Week 2: Preparation (or waiting or prophecy)
- Third Sunday of Advent Week 3: Joy (or peace)
- Fourth Sunday of Advent Week 4: Love (or adoration)
The meaning of the advent wreath and candles
- The first candle symbolizes hope and is called the “Prophet’s Candle.” The prophets of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah, waited in hope for the Messiah’s arrival.
- The second candle represents faith and is called “Bethlehem’s Candle.” Micah had foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which is also the birthplace of King David.
- The third candle symbolizes joy and is called the “Shepherd’s Candle.” To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for humble, unimportant people like them, too. In liturgy, the color rose signifies joy.
- The fourth candle represents peace and is called the “Angel’s Candle.” The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace–He came to bring people close to God and to each other again.
- The (optional) fifth candle represents light and purity and is called “Christ’s candle.” It is placed in the middle and is lit on Christmas Day.
Advent candles shine brightly in the midst of darkness, symbolizing and reminding us the Jesus came as Light in this world or darkness. May this Advent season bring you joy and peace!