Today we light the fourth and final candle on our Advent wreath. Besides the wreath in church, many of us celebrate the season with Advent wreaths in our home. But have you ever wondered about the history, purpose and symbolism associated with Advent wreaths? If so, here are some tidbits to nourish your curiosity:
· The Advent candles readily demonstrate the strong contrast between darkness and light. In the Bible, Christ is referred to as the “Light of the World” contrasted with the darkness of sin. Human history spanned long ages before our Savior would finally make His appearance, and God’s promise to make all things new through Him.
· As His Advent, or “coming,” draws nearer another candle is lit, with each candle dispelling the darkness a little more. Thus, the Advent wreath helps us to spiritually contemplate the great drama of salvation history that surrounds the birth of God Incarnate who comes to redeem the human race.
· The circular shape of the wreath, without beginning or end, symbolizes God’s complete and unending love for us—a love that sent His Son into the world to redeem us from the curse of sin. It also represents eternal life that becomes ours through faith in Jesus Christ.
· The Advent Wreath traditionally holds four candles that are lit, one at a time, on each of the four Sundays of the Advent season. Each candle represents 1,000 years. Added together, the four candles symbolize the 4,000 years that humanity waited for the world’s Savior—from Adam and Eve to Jesus, whose birth was foretold in the Old Testament.
· Some Advent wreath traditions also include a fifth white “Christ” candle, symbolizing purity, that is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. Many circular wreaths can incorporate a white candle by adding a pillar candle to the wreath center.
· Violet is a liturgical color that is used to signify a time of
prayer, penance, and sacrifice and is used during Advent and Lent. Advent, also called “little Lent,” is the season where we spiritually wait in our “darkness” with hopeful expectation for our promised redemption, just as the whole world did before Christ’s birth, and just as the whole world does now as we eagerly await His promised return. The pink candle is lit on Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday; which is the 3rd Sunday of Advent. As Advent draws to a close, we prepare for the celebration of Christmas. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. For anyone who is traveling over the upcoming holidays, I pray for your safe travels to and from your destination.
Deacon Steve Pareja
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC