An Advent wreath is a wreath made up of various evergreen leaves with four candles that are lighted in the weeks of Advent to symbolize the light that the birth of Christ brought into the world. The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. Traditionally three of the candles are purple, the color of kings and symbolizes prayer, penance, preparatory sacrifices and good works undertaken at this time. A rose-colored candle is used to mark the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) as a time to rejoice over the closeness of Christmas and the coming of Christ. The successive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming in the final judgment.
|our family's Advent wreath|
If you are Catholic, you will note that in all Catholic churches, at the left side of the altar is a huge Advent wreath. The first candle is lighted on the first Advent Sunday and so on until the last Sunday of Advent when all candles are lighted during the mass.
My mom started our family tradition of having our own Advent wreath at home in the early nineties. For all four Sundays of Advent, members of my family including our household staff will gather together before dinnertime for a simple ceremony and Advent Prayers. I love this part of the holiday season where we get to spend precious time as a family preparing for the coming celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also a good way for families especially those with young children to start a tradition of family worship. My family and I follow a longer version of prayers for the lighting of the Advent wreath candles, but there are simple prayers available on line and I found these simple but meaningful ones at the Loyola Press website.
All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever.
God of power and mercy open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Lord God, may we, your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ experience the joy of salvation and celebrate that feast with love and thanksgiving. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
A Happy and Peaceful Advent to Everyone!