advent is a time for preparation

Advent is a time for preparation

The beginning of the Church’s liturgical year begins with Advent.

As with all Catholics and Christians around the world, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish has begun preparing for the season of Advent. It is the season which encompasses the four Sundays leading up to the celebration of Christmas. Advent is a time for preparation as we focus on sharing the good news of Jesus’ birth with others.

This season of Advent reminds us all to direct our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming, along with the anniversary of our Lord’s birth. The last week of Advent from December 17 to December 24, focuses our preparation on the Nativity of Jesus.

Here are 10 things about Advent you may not know.
This list was written by Contributing Editor, Mark Woods of CHRISTIAN TODAY.

  1. It comes from the Latin word “adventus”, meaning “coming”, which is a translation of the Greek word “parousia”.
  2. In the early Church, as well as Easter, new Christians were baptized at Epiphany in January. The believers would spend 40 days in penance, prayer and fasting beforehand. Some scholars trace the observance of Advent to this practice – so it didn’t have much to do with Christmas at all.
  3. The first known mention of Advent is found in the “History of the Franks,” which says that in the year 480, St. Perpetuus ordered a fast three times a week in the weeks before Christmas.
  4. Advent is used to focus our minds on three things: the coming of Christ at Christmas, the coming of Christ into our lives today, and his second coming at the end of time.
  5. Many churches use Advent candles and light one every Sunday until Christmas. In some Protestant traditions the first represents the second coming of Christ, the second God’s gift of the Bible, the third John the Baptist and the prophets, and the fourth our own calling to shine Christ’s light into the world. In Catholic practice one candle represents Mary.
  6. A fifth candle is lit on Christmas Day and represents Jesus, the light of the world. In Germany this fifth candle is lit on Christmas Eve, the “Heiligabend” or “Holy Night”.
  7. Advent hymns include Lord, he comes with clouds descending, O come, O come Emmanuel and Hark, the glad sound.
  8. In England in early medieval times people used to carry around an Advent pre-Nativity scene from door to door called an “Advent image” or “vessel cup”. It was a box containing representations of Mary and the baby Jesus, decorated with ribbons and apples. It was believed to be unlucky not to see a box before Christmas.
  9. In many churches with liturgical traditions there are no flowers during Advent, but there is an Advent wreath. These are made from a circle of evergreen plants like holly and ivy which symbolize that God does not change. The holly is also a symbol of Jesus’ crown of thorns.
  10. Advent calendars originated in Germany in the late 19th century and soon spread throughout Europe and North America. Originally, the images in Advent calendars were derived from the Old Testament.

Many families, during this time of year, display an Advent wreath in their homes. This symbol is to remind us of the meaning of the season. Advent calendars are another way to help you fully enter in to the season with daily activity and prayer suggestions to prepare you spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ. This link will take you to an Advent calendar:

As we take the time to focus on this glorious season, let us remember to share in it as a family, together as one with our Lord. May God bless you during this Holy season!

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