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Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

Week 1

The Advent Wreath is a  part of our long-standing Catholic tradition.  The symbolism is truly beautiful.  The circle which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul and the everlasting life found in Christ.  The various evergreens which can be used signify continuous life.  If holly is used, its prickly leaves remind us the of Crown of Thorns worn by Christ.  Pine cones, seeds and nuts used to decorate the wreath, symbolize new life and resurrection.

The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, each week reminding of  one thousand years, a sum of 4000 years from Adam and Eve to the birth of the Savior.    The three purple or violet candles symbolize prayer, penance and the preparatory sacrifices and good works practiced during Advent.  The rose candle lit on the third Sunday (Gaudete Sunday) is one of rejoicing.

The progressive lighting symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s First Coming and the anticipation of His Second Coming.  This light radiating from the candles symbolizes Christ, the light of the world.

The First Sunday of Advent brings us Hope with the Prophet’s Candle, reminding us that Jesus is coming.

In our homes, tradition is to light the Advent wreath candle at dinner following the blessing of the food.  A simple prayer for your family’s reflection could be:

All -powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit on God, forever and ever.  Amen.

“Christ is the Light that came into the world” to dispel the darkness of sin and to radiate the truth and love of God (cf John 3: 19-21)

Week 2

The second Sunday of Advent symbolizes Faith with the Bethlehem candle reminding us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.

A simple prayer this week could be:

God of power and mercy open our hearts in welcome.  Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Week 3

The third Sunday of Advent symbolizes Joy with the Shepard’s Candle reminding us of the Joy the world experienced at the coming birth of Jesus.  This Sunday is also called Gaudete Sunday.

A simple prayer this week could be:

Lord God, may we, your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ experience the joy of salvation and celebrate that feast with love and thanksgiving.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Week 4

The fourth Sunday of Advent symbolizes Peace with the Angel’s Candle reminding us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

A simple prayer this week could be:

Father. all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan.  Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.