Advent is the 40-day period before Christmas which is devoted to preparation for the coming of the Messiah.
It begins on November 15th and extends to December 25th. It is a period of fasting, prayer, alms giving, scripture reading, church attendance and participation in the sacraments to capture the full meaning of Christ’s coming.
A very effective way of celebrating advent in our homes is through the use of an Advent Wreath. One can begin by purchasing a Wreath in which there should be placed space for seven candles(one for each week of advent). In assembling the wreath, parents can explain the symbolism of each part. The circle (wreath) is the Christian symbol for God who is eternal. The ever green branches symbolize eternal life, or the life of God, of which Jesus came to make us partakers.
The candles represent Christ who is the light of the world. The color of each candle expresses something special that will be discussed each week of advent as the family celebration unfolds. One candle will be lit each week by a different member of the family.
First Sunday of Advent
The Candle is Green to express Faith. The time begins with the lighting of the first candle by a member of the family. As this is done, the Father, or Mother begin by saying: “The first candle reminds us of Faith; the faith we have in God that He will keep His Promise to send His Son.
Scripture: the Prophecy from Isaiah 9:2; 6, 7; 40:3-5; 52:7
Discussion: God kept His promise to send the Messiah. What other promises does God make? Does He keep them?
Second Sunday of Advent
The candle is blue to express Hope. Lighting the first two candles(green and blue) family members recites: “ The second candles reminds us of our Hope we have that Christ will come again this year to bring new joy into our lives.”
Scripture: The Promise from, Luke 1:5-31
Discussion: Christ came to bring joy and to make our joy complete. How does He bring joy to our hearts today?
Third Sunday of Advent:
The color is Gold to express love. Light the three first candles and say: “As we light the third candle let us remember the words of St John when he said ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son’.
Scripture: The Annunciation to the Theotokos in, Luke 1:26-38
Discussion: Talk about the life of St. Nicholas (celebrated Dec. 6th) who was known for his great generosity in distributing gifts and money to the poor. How can we follow his example this Advent?
The Fourth Sunday of Advent:
The color is White to signify Peace. Light all four first candles. Recite: “The fourth candle reminds us of the Angels message to the Shepherds. ‘Peace on Earth good will toward men”
Scripture: The Journey to Bethlehem in, Luke 2:1-18
Discussion: Is there someone who has something against us? Do we have anything against someone? Whom do we need to forgive? Prepare the way. Forgive and be forgiven.
The Fifth Sunday of Advent:
The color is Purple to signify Repentance. After all the five candles are lit say “This candles reminds us of our need to repent before we can meet the coming Christ. “Repent the Kingdom of God is at hand”
Scripture: Prepare the way for our Messiah, Mark 1:1-8, 14 and 15.
Discussion: What is the meaning of true repentance? Let us prepare ourselves with self-examination, and agree on a time to go as a family to confession before Nativity.
The Sixth Sunday of Advent:
the color is Red, to signify Holy Communion. Review the last five candles, Faith, Hope, Love, Peace, and Repentance. Then say “The sixth candle reminds us of Christ coming. Who came in Bethlehem, who will come again at the end of time, and who comes to us now through communion.
Scripture: The coming of the Logos, John 1:1-18. His coming today through Holy Communion, John 6:52-58
Discussion: Talk about Holy Communion. Why should we take Holy communion?
The Seventh Sunday of Advent:
This candle should either be a Large White candle of your Paschal candle representing Christ. Light all seven Candles, review their meanings. Say “ For unto us a Child is Born, unto us a Son is given and His name shall be called Wonderful.”
Scripture: The Christmas Story, Luke 2:1-7
Discussion: talk about Christ’s coming. Ask each person to share what Christ’s coming means to him/her personally.