Advent: Season of Preparation and Expectation

Ordinary Time has come to an end and the Season of Advent is upon us. This Season, which marks the beginning of the Liturgical Year of the Church, commences on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, and will come to an end on Christmas Eve.

Advent is a time of preparation and expectation, a time leading to Christmas which Pope Francis calls beautiful when we repeatedly pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

“It is a time where we have to live by that phrase, not just say it,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is the essence of the Season which is truly an invitation to pause in silence to recognize the signs of the coming of the presence of the Lord.”

The Advent Season has a two-fold characteristic, the First Coming of the Son of God, which we know as Christmas or the Nativity, and we prepare for that, Bishop Dewane explained. Also, in this Advent journey we prepare for the Second Coming of Our Lord.

“Advent is a time of devout and expectant delight,” the Bishop added. “We don’t usually think of it as delight, we have delight in who the Lord is as our Savior comes into our life.”

The Advent Season in the Church is different from the Christmas Season. The Advent Season is from Nov. 27 through the vigil of the Nativity of the Lord. The Christmas Season in the Church runs from First Vespers of the Nativity of the Lord up to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Jan. 9, 2023.

After the annual celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the Church has no more ancient custom than celebrating the memorial of the Nativity of the Lord and his first manifestations.

The main focus of the Advent Season is preparation through prayer, quiet reflection, weekday Mass attendance and even fasting, Bishop Dewane explained. Taking time to quietly reflect and grow in Faith can be a challenge, but we are called to put distractions aside, even for a few minutes a day, which allows the love of God to fill one’s life with joy.

One key symbol in Churches for this Season is the Advent Wreath. The lights of the candles on the Advent Wreath serve to break through the darkness, reminding us of the Light of Christ that we anticipate during this Holy Season. The liturgical color of Advent is a particular shade of purple, a color which is most often associated with royalty. This color is used to symbolize the anticipation of the birth of Christ, who is our King and Savior.

Each Sunday of Advent, an additional candle of the wreath is lit, with the rose-colored candle lit on the Third Sunday of Advent. Best known as Gaudete Sunday, this celebration derives its name from Scripture: “Gaudete in Domino semper” (“Rejoice in the Lord always”) and marks the mid-point in the Season. Bishop Dewane said that the change in color provides encouragement to rejoice during a Season of penance, as we continue our spiritual preparation for Christmas.

Aside from the Sundays of Advent, the Church also celebrates two important Marian feasts, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, which is observed as a Holy Day of Obligation, and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, on Dec. 12. We are also called to seek the intercession of the saints as we make this journey towards Christmas, particularly those saints whose feasts we celebrate during Advent, such as St. Francis Xavier, St. Nicholas, St. Juan Diego, St. Lucy, and St. John of the Cross. They modeled for us the way to salvation and assist us in our own pilgrimage to Heaven.

The First Sunday of Advent also marks the start of the new Liturgical Year of the Church. In it, the Church marks the passage of time with the celebration of the main events in the life of Jesus and the story of Salvation. In so doing, Pope Francis said the Church illuminates the path of our existence, which supports us in our daily occupations and guides us towards the final encounter with Christ.

The Pope invites everyone to live this time of preparation in the Season of Hope with “great sobriety” and simple moments of family prayer. “Advent is a continuous call to hope: it reminds us that God is present in history to lead it to its ultimate goal, to lead it to its fullness, which is the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Dewane said, “Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. Let us resolve to help bring Him into the hearts of those we encounter throughout each day. Let us take advantage of what is new in the Advent Season as the Universal Church prepares for the birth of Christ. And let us grow in Faith during this portion of the Liturgical Year on our journey toward Salvation.”