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 actuallysayabout Advent?
Here are some of the basic questions and (official!) answers about Advent.
Some of the answers are surprising!
Here we go . . .
1. What Is the Purpose of Advent?
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:
*]as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ’s first coming to us is remembered;
*]as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time.
[/LIST]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.
2. What Liturgical Colors Are Used in Advent?
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 asGaudeteSunday:
The color rose may be used, where it is the practice, onGaudete*Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent)and onLaetareSunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent) [GIRM 346f].
3. Is Advent a Penitential Season?
We often think of Advent as a penitential season because the liturgical color for Advent is violet, like the color of Lent, whichisa penitential season.
However, in reality, Advent isnota 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.
4. When Does Advent Begin and End?