The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin ‘adventus’, which means coming, arrival or approach.
Advent is thus the liturgical season that precedes and prepares us for Christmas. It is a season of hope and of longing, of joyful expectation and of peaceful preparation.
It marks the start of the liturgical year.
Advent starts from the 4th Sunday before Christmas up till the 24th of December.
The 1st of the 4 Sundays is known as ‘Advent Sunday’ and the 3rd Sunday is known as ‘Gaudete Sunday’
Advent, while not as penitential a season as Lent, is still a period where we are expected to increase our almsgiving, sacrifices and prayer life.
While Lent conjures images of ashes and dust, Advent reminds us that sacrificial giving can be done in a spirit of light and hope
The general theme of Advent is Christ’s historical and future coming.
The colour for Advent is violet or purple.
The mood is somber anticipation and restrained joy that grows each day until Christmas, akin to waiting for a new mother to give birth.
We prepare for Advent in two main ways: spiritually and physically
SPIRITUAL WAYS TO PREPARE FOR ADVENT
GO TO CONFESSION
Begin Advent by going to Confession
The Sacrament of Reconciliation cleanses our souls and helps us to get our hearts in the right place in regards to Advent, to others and to ourselves.
OFFER UP YOUR HEART
Offer your heart as the dwelling place for Christ.
Catholic Advent Prayer To Welcome Advent
PRACTICAL WAYS TO PREPARE FOR ADVENT
SET UP A PRAYER SPACE IN YOUR HOME OR DORM ROOM
Dedicate a space or corner in your home or room for prayer and devotion.
This can be a place near where you will put up the `Christmas tree or it can be any other part of your home.
As the colour for this season is purple or violet, you can add purple or violet altar cloths to the prayer space.
BRING OUT YOUR PURPLE VEILS
The liturgical colour for the season is purple or violet, so wear purple/violet veils for Mass during this period.
However, remember that for the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, the colour is Rose or Pink, so bring out your Rose or Pink veils in preparation.
THE ADVENT CALENDAR
An Advent calendar, as the name implies, marks off the days of Advent. Some elaborate Advent calendars have a door to be opened for each day, with candy or a prize behind each door.
THE CHRISTMAS TREE
As Advent is a penitential season, we DO NOT generally put up or decorate the Christmas Tree until December 24th.
We can, however, spend Advent preparing the ornaments for the tree for when Christmas finally arrives.
Instead of decorating for Christmas, decorate for Advent instead.
You can, if you prefer, put up the Christmas tree, but leave it bare, without lights, decorations or ornaments.
It is an Advent tree until it becomes a Christmas Tree on December 24th.
Another alternative to a completely bare tree is to add a single hanging tree ornament of the pregnant Madonna or add a statue of the pregnant Madonna to your prayer space or Nativity Scene intead.
You can also add just 1 string of lights, and each Sunday, add an additional string of light until Christmas.
THE NATIVITY SCENE
The whole family can join in on this activity to set up the Nativity Scene.
Mary and Joseph should be far off traveling and their approach to Bethlehem can be adjusted each Advent Sunday, bringing them closer to the Crib.
Ideally, get a Nativity Scene set with a crib that has a removable Baby Jesus, as the crib will be left empty until Christmas Eve.
THE MANGER OR CRIB
You can place an empty Nativity crib or manger resting in the center of the advent wreath. Or you can place it in the Nativity Scene, if you prefer.
Then slowly fill it with straw every Advent Sunday, earned by a sacrifice, a prayer or a work of mercy in honour of Baby Jesus.
The kids particularly love getting involved in this activity and it teaches them to about making sacrifices and make a nice comfy bed for Baby Jesus.
Encourage the kids Baby Jesus’s bed as comfortable as possible through their good deeds and acts of kindness.
The idea is to teach children to make a comfy bed for the Baby Jesus. On Christmas night, I add the Baby Jesus for my children to wake up to.
On Christmas Eve, you can place the Baby Jesus in his crib for the kiddies to wake up to.
Then everyone can stop by the manger to greet Baby Jesus before opening up their presents.
After Christmas dinner, the entire family can then gather before the Infant Savior, in his now-padded crib, for their evening prayers, family carols or for Scripture reading.
THE ADVENT WREATH
Dust off the Advent wreath.
Before the Christmas wreath goes on our front door, the Advent wreath first goes on our dining table or home altar.
The wreath is always in the shape of a circle to represent God’s unending nature. The evergreens symbolize eternal life, which we, as Christians, have once we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
The Advent wreath is a wreath made with evergreens, with 4 candles (3 purple, 1 rose) on the wreath.
The three purple ones lit on the penitential Sundays and a pink one for Gaudete, the joyful third Sunday in Advent.
Some people like to have five candles in the Advent wreath.
The first three candles are purple to represent preparation, the fourth candle is pink to represent joy, and the last is white to represent Christ.
A prayer to bless the Advent Wreath
On the first Sunday of Advent, the candle of prophecy and preparation is lit.
On the second Sunday, the candle of proclamation is lit, remembering the angels who announced the Savior.
On the third Sunday, the candle of expectation is lit and we remember the expectation Mary felt as she had Emmanuel, God with us, within her womb.
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, the last of the purple candle is lit.
On Christmas Eve, the white candle is lit.
It is often the biggest of the five candles and centered in the middle of the wreath, this Christ candle marks the culmination of the promise of a coming Savior. On Christmas Eve, as that last candle is lit, remember the words of Scripture, Christ in you, the hope of glory.
This article is just about the Preparing for Advent.
I will next write another article on what we do during Advent: the activities, feasts and prayers that we can engage in during the Advent season itself.
You can also see the Traditional Catholic Femininity Spotify Advent playlist.
Our Lady Of The Expectation, pray for us!!
ad Jesum per Mariam