Question: Where did Advent come from?
We have evidence of the time before Christmas being a particular time of spiritual preparation dating back to the Council of Saragossa in 380 AD. By the end of the sixth century the season began to take shape as a time of fasting and prayer in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Pope St. Gregory the Great established the time of Advent in the form we still use today, fixing it at four weeks and composing prayers and antiphons to be used specifically during this time.
Question: Why do you wear pink on the third week of Advent?
There are various liturgical colors for different seasons and celebrations during the year, but the color pink (technically “rose”) is only used twice during the year, and one of those times is during Advent. The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, which means Rejoice Sunday. It comes from the first prayer of that Mass, “Gaudete in Domino semper. Rejoice in the Lord always,” which is a direct quote from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians chapter 4, verse 4. The idea is that we are supposed to rejoice at being close the celebration of Christmas. The color pink symbolizes this joy because it is a lighter color than purple, which represents repentance, but not the full gold of Christmas. We rejoice, but we’re still in a mode of repentance.
Question: What are we supposed to do during Advent?
Remember that Advent is supposed to be a time of spiritual preparation for Christmas, and we prepare through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. You can pray during Advent by reading the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels (Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1:1-2:40) and considering what the birth of the Son of God means for the world and for you. Another tradition Advent prayer is the “O Antiphons,” which should be familiar because of the song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
You can fast by abstaining from meat, or some other food, on Fridays of Advent, which the Church asks us to do in Canon 1251 of the Code of Canon Law, “Abstinence from mean, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.” This is binding on all Catholics who are at least 14 years old.
You can give alms by donating to Church, to the St. Anthony box, or to other charities. We say that Christmas is the season of giving, as God gave us His greatest gift at Christmas, His Son, but we can start giving already during Advent.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Once a month I’ll write an article answering a question from a parishioner on the Church, the Mass and sacraments, the Bible, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints, spiritual theology, or anything related to Christianity. Either write your question down and put it in the collection basket, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fr. Bryan became pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes on July 3, 2017. Read his bio here.