Sunday, November 29, 2015
First Sunday of Advent
The word "Advent" comes from "Adventus", coming, and is about the coming of Christ. The Advent wreath began in homes and then was adopted by Churches. One candle is lit each Sunday and the third week has a rose colored candle, reminiscent of the third Sunday of Lent where we celebrate joy - here the joy is that Christ is soon to come. The purple candles have a double significance: it is the color associated with Kings and also with penance. People used to fast during Advent but that changed through the centuries. In the sixth century, a more formal season of Advent began to take shape. By sanctioning the practice of fasting and by encouraging churches to devote several Sunday sermons to the subject of Christ’s birth, Pope Gregory I (in office from 590-604 AD) has been credited with establishing the first clear form of an Advent season. However, Gregory granted “a certain latitude to the several churches as to the manner of [Advent’s] observance.” Thus, for the next several centuries, the traditions of individual churches varied widely.
In regard to the length of Advent, by the 10th century, most churches recognized the season to include the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. If Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday, it was considered the fourth Sunday. Or rather, the first Sunday since “these Sundays were then counted inversely, that is, the nearest to Christmas was called the first Sunday, and so on with the rest.”
Happy, holy Advent!