Advent is a season of preparing ourselves to celebrate Christ's birthday at Christmas, while at the same time reminding us to be ready for His final coming--either at our death or the end of the present world. It gets it's name from the Latin word meaning 'coming.'
The readings at mass are mostly about preparing our souls to be worthy of Christ & Heaven.
There are four Sundays in Advent (although this was not always the case, and in Eastern Churches it is still 6 weeks). Because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, Advent started as early as possible (11/27) and will be as long as possible (28 days).
We 'celebrate' Advent, although it is more of a solemn time than many realize. In the secular world, the month leading up to Christmas is often a time of celebration, shopping, and materialism. Religiously speaking, it is supposed to be a anticipatory time of self-examination and spiritual preparation.
--I like how AmericanCatholic.org puts it:
"Advent is a time of joyous anticipation, but also of penance and preparation for the great Christmas feast. The liturgical color of the season is purple, a sign of penance, which is also used during Lent. The Church discourages excessive ornamentation, boisterous music and even weddings during Advent, in order to foster a sense of quiet hope."Each Sunday in Advent is represented by a candle within the Advent wreath (which is not an originally Catholic tradition). The first, second, and fourth Sundays are marked with purple candles and the third Sunday is marked with a pink candle. I will write more about the third Sunday--Gaudete Sunday--when it happens because it is my favorite non-Christmas/Easter day!
Here are my goals for Advent:
|our humble tree and (currently empty) Nativity scene|
Read our Advent devotional book each day. Last year we read our book, but didn't do it every day--so some days we would have to read more than one, and then it just loses it's effect. My goal is to read it before dinner each night.
Bring cookies to the church office--an act of service/thankfulness.
Take hot chocolate to Salvation Army bell ringers at the mall on a cold night--an act of generosity.
Make a hand-made gift for my husband--an act of love.
Make a felt advent wreath like this for baby G.
...and as always, try to be more patient and less nagging of my husband. :-)
If you blog about your Advent goals, please let me know so I can check it out!