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Advent: Preparing for the Coming of Christ

Advent: Preparing for the Coming of Christ

By Sr. Denise Herrmann, CSA

The Longest Advent

Each year we prepare for the Christmas Season with the liturgical season of Advent. This year, Advent is the longest it can be; it is four complete weeks because Christmas falls on a Sunday. This year’s dates of Advent are November 27 through December 24.

The Character of Advent

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Savior. Each year we prepare to celebrate the anniversary of Christ’s First Coming to the earth as a human child, born of the Virgin Mary in the town of Bethlehem. Advent also looks forward to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time. Advent is a time for preparing for both.

The liturgical color of the Advent season is violet. In the sanctuary, the front of the altar and ambo are draped in this color. The vestments of the priests are violet except for the third Sunday when they have the option of wearing a rose-colored vestment, which signifies the joy that arises as the Savior comes near.

The Advent wreath is in the sanctuary near the ambo, assembled with greenery and the four candles which mark the passing of the weeks of Advent. Three candles are violet, and one candle is rose-colored. The candles are lighted for each Mass during Advent.

The Scriptures of Advent

This Advent the Sunday Scriptures are from Cycle A which uses passages from the Gospel according to St. Matthew. The first two Sundays of Advent focus on waking up and being alert for the coming of the Savior. The message of being prepared is very strong; we hear the account of St. John the Baptist who cries out to repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. The Scriptures of the Third Sunday of Advent are ones of joy and of exhorting us to be patient for the coming of the Lord. The Fourth Sunday of Advent turns to the immediacy of the coming of the Savior who will be from the house of David, born of the virgin; his name will be Jesus because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Our Own Preparation

The Advent season is one of preparation, of being ready for the coming of the Lord. It entails repenting and leaving behind former ways unconducive for the presence of God. Our hearts need to be stirred up (a verb used often in the Advent prayers in the Roman Missal) and focused more firmly on spiritually preparing for celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Daily prayer, reading and meditating on the Advent Scriptures, self-sacrificing, reaching out to the less fortunate, going to confession, and attending the Advent liturgies are all essential ways of setting the course for the coming of the Lord.

“Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds…”
- Collect of the First Sunday of Advent

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