Skip to comments.10 Things You Need to Know About Advent
Posted on 11/23/2013 2:02:01 PM PST by NYer
Advent begins on Sunday, December 1st.
Most of us have an intuitive understanding of Advent, based on experience, but what do the Church’s official documents actually say about Advent?
Here are some of the basic questions and (official!) answers about Advent.
Some of the answers are surprising!
Here we go . . .
Advent is a season on the Church’s liturgical calendar–specifically, it is as season on the calendar of the Latin Church, which is the largest Church in communion with the pope.
Other Catholic Churches–as well as many non-Catholic churches–have their own celebration of Advent.
According to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar:
Advent has a twofold character:
Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation [Norms 39].
We tend to think of Advent only as the season in which we prepare for Christmas, or the First Coming of Christ, but as the General Norms point out, it is important that we also remember it as a celebration in which we look forward to the Second Coming of Christ.
Properly speaking, Advent is a season that brings to mind the Two Comings of Christ.
Particular days and certain types of celebrations can have their own colors (e.g., red for martyrs, black or white at funerals), but the normal color for Advent is violet. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal provides:
The color violet or purple is used in Advent and Lent. It may also be worn in Offices and Masses for the Dead [346d].
In many places, there is a notable exception for the Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday:
The color rose may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent) [GIRM 346f].
We often think of Advent as a penitential season because the liturgical color for Advent is violet, like the color of Lent, which is a penitential season.
However, in reality, Advent is not a penitential season. Surprise!
According to the Code of Canon Law:
Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.
Although local authorities can establish additional penitential days, this is a complete listing of the penitential days and times of the Latin Church as a whole, and Advent is not one of them.
The word 'Advent' is from the Latin 'Adventus' which means 'coming.' Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year (in the Western churches), and encompasses the span of time from the fourth Sunday before Christmas, until the Nativity of Our Lord is celebrated. The exact time when the season of Advent came to be celebrated is not precisely known. The earliest evidence shows that the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was established within the later part of the 4th century. The themes and traditions of the Advent season have evolved throughout the history of the liturgical season. As mentioned, the early Advent season was mainly penitential, close to the theme of the Lenten season.
Do you know if Advents begun? It has if you are a Maronite Catholic. The typical 4 week Advent season for many Catholics is not the norm for all Catholics.
Season of the Glorious Birth of the Lord
The pre-Christmas Cycle has six Sundays, which all focus on the unfolding revelation of the Birth of the Messiah. This is done in the context of the immediate family of Jesus, centering on Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1, 2; Luke 1, 2). This is certainly in line with the Antiochene emphasis on the humanity of Jesus and its appreciation of the historical aspect of Scripture. The greatest Announcement, of course, is that of the angels on Christmas.
The Sundays of the Advent Season in the Maronite Church are:
The Announcement to Zechariah
The Announcement to Mary
The Visitation of the Virgin to Elizabeth
The Birth of John the Baptist
The Revelation to Joseph
The Genealogy of Jesus
The Glorious Birth of Our Lord
Tomorrow, we celebrate The Announcement to Mary
This icon is rich in Syriac tradition design and color. It symbolizes the joy of the announcement to Mary, that she will be the Mother of God.
The Virgin Mary stands in her house of prayer, portrayed in a posture of submission and acceptance, filled with joy and peace at the message of the Angel. The Holy Spirit is depicted in the form of a dove, descending upon her in his great act of divine mystery. To the left of the icon, we see Archangel Gabriel, stretching out his right hand to the Virgin Mary, in both proclamation and blessing. With his left hand, he holds the angelic staff. The blue semi-circle at the top of the icon, as depicted in all the icons of this series, symbolically represents the realm of the Divine and the presence of God the Father.
The Second Sunday of the Season of Announcements commemorates the announcement to Mary that she is to be the mother of God. The feast actually recalls two aspects of the same salvific mystery: the incarnation of the divine Word and the motherhood of Mary. For this reason, the feast was given different names according to the aspect which was being emphasized. With time, the Incarnation of the Son of God was stressed on the Feast of the Birth of our Lord and today's feast became a Marian feast.
This great announcement to Mary, the fulfillment of the promises of the prophets, took place in the humble home of Mary in Nazareth. At the time, Mary was probably between fourteen and sixteen. Again it was Gabriel, the messenger of the end times, who brought the wonderful message to the young girl.
In many ways, the announcement to Mary can be compared to the announcement to Zechariah. Both apparitions took place during the day and both Zechariah and Mary were to be found at prayer. Mary, the Queen, is speaking with her Lord in her own home. It was necessary for Zechariah to go to the Temple and encounter the Lord in the holy of holies. When the angel appeared to Zechariah, he was described as "standing". During the announcement to Mary, the angel greets her with signs of respect, gives her the good news and departs. He is not described as "standing". The angel himself praises Mary, "You have found favor with God."
In the name of all of humanity, Mary consented to be the instrument through which salvation was to be brought into the world. One recalls Eve, who consented to bring darkness and sin into the world. With Mary, the New Eve, salvation history is at a turning point. She is to be the "Mother of the Light."