Saturday, November 27, 2010

The First Sunday of Advent: Preparing the Way

People, look east. The time is near 

Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

Advent is a time of preparation.  We prepare for the coming of the Lord on Christmas Day.  The use of an Advent wreath is a tradition that goes back centuries and no one really knows how it began.

It symbolizes many things:
- The Greenery: Everlasting Life
- The Circle: Immortality of the soul and/or to represent that God has no beginning and no end
- The Candles: Christ, the light of the world
- The Central White Candle: (optional) Lit on Christmas Day to represent the coming of Christ

You can find out more about the history of the Advent wreath at the:
Catholic Education Resource Center.

Traditionally, a candle is lit during dinner every night for the four weeks leading up to Christmas.  The first week one candle is lit, the second two are lit, and so on.  Growing up, my family lit our Advent wreath after dinner for a short family prayer which usually included a reading from the Bible and perhaps a short reading from a special Advent prayer book for families.  Some years this was done at the kitchen table after the dishes had been cleared, other years we kept the wreath on our coffee table and would circle around it in the living room.

Our wreath is simple, small, and was a minor financial investment.  Just a metal taper ring, set of candles, and a little plastic wreath... the "wreath" is actually a surround for a pillar candle that is easily found in any craft store floral department.  I like the fact that since it is small, I can keep it stored in my kitchen cabinet and not in the attic with our other Christmas decorations.  It is easy to take out as soon as we need it.  I do not remember where I got this set of advent candles, though I am glad to have them because our old set was stored in the attic and melted!  No more storing candles in a hot Texas attic for me.

Looking for an Advent wreath or candles?  Here are a few I found online:
On Catholic Icing: Advent Wreath Craft for Kids (with birthday candles!)
On Catholic Supply: Various Wreaths, Candles, and Books
                                (one metal ring for only $2.95 until Monday!)
On The Catholic Company: Various Wreaths and Candles
On Amazon: 6.5" Gold Christmas Advent Wreath & Candles

I have always felt that when it comes to Advent wreaths, it is more important to focus on what it symbolizes - the coming of Christ - and not the wreath itself.  It is a tool to help us count the weeks, prepare our hearts, and prepare the way because Love, the guest, is on the way.

Happy Preparations

1 comment:

  1. I will be pulling out our Advent Wreath this afternoon! Our church had Advent prayer books available after mass last night.


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