28th November 2020: Advent - did you know?...
Advent observances began sometime after the 4th century as a time of fasting and preparation for Epiphany, rather than in anticipation of Christmas. Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Christ by remembering the visit of the wise men. At this time new Christians were baptized and received into the faith, and so the early church instituted a 40-day period of fasting and repentance. Later, in the 6th century, St. Gregory the Great was the first to associate this season of Advent with the coming of Christ. Originally it was not the coming of the Christ-child that was anticipated, but the Second Coming of Christ.
By the Middle Ages, four Sundays had become the standard length of the Advent season, with fasting and repentance during that time. The church also extended the meaning of Advent to include the coming of Christ through his birth in Bethlehem, his future coming at the end of time, and his presence among us through the promised Holy Spirit.
The advent candles and their colours are packed with rich meaning. Each represents a specific aspect of the spiritual preparations for Christmas. The three colours are purple, rose, and white. Purple symbolizes repentance and royalty & purple is also the liturgical colour at this time of year. Rose represents joy and rejoicing and white stands for purity and light. Each candle carries a specific name as well. The first purple candle is called the Prophecy Candle or Candle of Hope. The second purple candle is the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation. The third (rose) candle is the Shepherd Candle or Candle of Joy. The fourth candle, a purple one, is called the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. And the last (white) candle is the Christ Candle.
In the Catholic Church, priests wear purple vestments during the season (just like they do during Lent), tho on Gaudete Sunday (third Sunday in Advent) Rose vestments can be worn. During this season of Advent the Gloria is not said and resumes at Christmas when traditionally the bells are rung at the Gloria.
Whatever Advent brings whether we gather together or not, we still undertake this journey together spiritually to culminate in the great feast of Christmas. Make it your fervent Advent prayer that we shall be able to gather together to celebrate the Saviours birth.