First Sunday of Advent

12-03-2023Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Advent is the season is a time of preparation and anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. The four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas. The Advent season also directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time.

Advent devotions including the Advent wreath, remind us of the meaning of the season. Traditionally, Advent wreaths are made of a circle and may include evergreen branches into which four candles are inserted, representing the four weeks of Advent. Ideally, three candles are purple and one is rose. One new candle is lit each week and is usually accompanied with Advent prayers and traditional Advent hymns like “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Here is a link to traditional Advent prayers:

The purple candles symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, also known as Gaudete Sunday. The third Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half-over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s birth into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge both the living and the dead.

The purpose of the season of Advent is to help us draw closer to Jesus who is the light and life of the world. As Jesus says in the Gospel of Saint John, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). In effect, the season of Advent invites us to develop our relationship with the Lord Jesus who gives us eternal life and invites us to extend ourselves more fully to others. As we continue making our way through this holy season, let us pray that the Lord Jesus will help us recognize more fully in our hearts His personal love for us and how much He wants us to express this in works of charity toward others.

Blessing an Advent Wreath - A Family Activity

You will need a Bible and four candles to celebrate this blessing. Before your family has gathered for the blessing, select one of the following Scripture passages to be read during the blessing: Isaiah 11:1-4, 61:1-2; Mark 1:1-8; James 5:7-10; or Philippians 4:4-7.

Read the selected passage from the Bible. Place the Advent wreath on a table and have your family gather around it. Lower the light level in the room to create an appropriate atmosphere for the blessing. Place the four candles (symbolizing the four weeks of Advent) on the table and light a single candle for the first week of Advent. Have someone lead your family in the prayer on the next page.

Leader: This week we begin the season of Advent, when the days grow short and darkness closes in. We are preparing to celebrate at Christmas the birth of Jesus, who is the light of the world. Let's spend some quiet time being aware of the darkness and longing for the light. (Pause a few moments and then pray the Sign of the Cross.)

Leader: O God, by whose Word all things are sanctified, pour forth Your blessing upon this wreath and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from You abundant graces. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

(The wreath would then be sprinkled with water)

Leader: Advent means “arrival.” In the season of Advent, the church prepares to celebrate the coming of Jesus. We recall the past, celebrate the present, and look to the future with hope. We prepare to celebrate not only the birth of Jesus but also His presence in our family. We wait for the return of Our Lord at the end of time when all hopes will be fulfilled. We await the coming of the light that will shine in the darkness, shining light on our path to peace.

Reader: A reading from [name of book in Bible]. (Reader reads selected passage.)

Leader: The Word of the Lord. All: Thanks be to God. (Pray the Lord's Prayer.)

God Bless,

Fr. Don Kline, V.F.