Yesterday marked the beginning of the new Church year and the beginning of the Advent Season, which ends on Christmas Eve. One of the most recognizable symbols of this time of year is the Advent wreath. It marks the time for us as we await the true light—Jesus Christ.
As part of our liturgical celebration of this first Sunday of Advent, we lit the first of the four candles of this wreath and heard the following explanation about the tradition and meaning of this beautiful representation.
Did you know that the advent wreath was adapted from a pagan practice in the Middle Ages, which used lighted candles to dispel the darkness of winter? This became the Christian symbol we are familiar with today.
The circular wreath of greens—which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God and the immortality of our soul.
Some traditions say that the purple (the color of royalty) candles represent the coming of the Prince of Peace. This color also represents the prayer, penance and preparatory sacrifices that we faithful offer while waiting in expectation. The rose candle marks the halfway point of the Advent season and reminds us of the joy that will soon be ours when Christmas arrives.
The first purple candle, which we lit yesterday, is typically called “The Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets—primarily Isaiah who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope and anticipation of the coming of the Messiah.
The second purple candle, which will be lit next Sunday to mark the second week of advent, is called “The Bethlehem candle” as it represents—Love—who was born in the manger that first Christmas.
The Pink Candle, which will be lit on the third Sunday of Advent, is called the “Shepherds Candle” because its color reminds us of the joy the Shepherds felt as they were the first to lay eyes on the new born Savior. It reminds us as well of the joy that will be ours in two weeks’ time.
The Last Candle is lit on the Fourth Sunday of Advent and is often known as the Angel’s Candle or Peace Candle, as it reminds us that soon—we will all hear the song of the angels as they herald the birth of Jesus singing -Gloria in Excelsis Deo—Glory to God in the Highest—and Peace to all on earth.
The progressive lighting of these four candles reminds us that Advent is a time of waiting—of longing—for the coming of the Savior. Emmanuel—God with us. Come Lord Jesus – and do not delay!
Jugan Terrace Resident Nancy Goddard, Sr. Patricia Gertrude, and Resident Ann Marie Kezon present the candles for blessing (left to right).