White Advent Wreath Candles verses Violet/Rose Traditional


#1

I’m confused about my parish priest who prefers White Advent Wreath candles over the:traditional the three violet/purple and one rose candle symbolizing Gaudete Sunday the third week of Advent. With former parish priests the traditional norm of violet and rose candles were always used. Optionally beginning on Christmas Eve a larger White Christ-Candle can be placed in the centre of the wreath or all Advent candles exchanged for white used during the entire liturgical Christmas Season.

Never could understand a break from the roots of tradition. This is the third Advent season my parish priest chooses to be different. Anyone else experience this?

In the Peace of Christ
Chris


#2

Not experienced it. It sounds sad that there’s a break from a tradition with the symbolism it entailed. Have you spoken to the priest and asked him why he’s done it. Did he ever say why he made the changes or put something in the bulletin?


#3

[quote="centurionguard, post:1, topic:307860"]

Never could understand a break from the roots of tradition. This is the third Advent season my parish priest chooses to be different. Anyone else experience this?

[/quote]

Actually I'm not so sure that the advent wreath is that old of a Catholic tradition. And I think it's fairly new as a liturgical tradition.

Are there ribbons or or other markers on the candles? I believe having white candles with purple and rose ribbons is also common for Advent wreaths.


#4

That’s right. I’ve seen lots of advent wreaths with white candles, but each candle is decorated in the traditional colors.


#5

[quote="centurionguard, post:1, topic:307860"]
I'm confused about my parish priest who prefers White Advent Wreath candles over the:traditional the three violet/purple and one rose candle symbolizing Gaudete Sunday the third week of Advent. With former parish priests the traditional norm of violet and rose candles were always used. Optionally beginning on Christmas Eve a larger White Christ-Candle can be placed in the centre of the wreath or all Advent candles exchanged for white used during the entire liturgical Christmas Season.

Never could understand a break from the roots of tradition. This is the third Advent season my parish priest chooses to be different. Anyone else experience this?

In the Peace of Christ
Chris

[/quote]

I think it is fine to use white candles. They can be decorated to show the colors but I believe others have used white. It is what the lighting of the candles represent, our expecting and hope of the Lord's coming. We are probably just used to seeing the colored candles as they are used mostly.


#6

I often see 4 white candles with rose/purple bands or ribbons attached to the candles.


#7

I remember the church of my youth 50+ years ago the Advent Wreath at Church had 4 white candles with 3 violet ribbons and one rose ribbon - the candles were white beeswax. Even then I thought that was much nicer looking than the 3 purple candles and 1 rose candle we had at home. As an adult I use the white candles in this same manner with the colored ribbon. Plus the candles are otherwise usable. To this day I think the purple candles and rose candle look terrible and are pretty useless outside Advent.


#8

Beeswax are the best candles to use because their virtually dripless if a brass or heat-tempured pyrex glass candle follower is used. While regular violet and rose Advent candles used in most parishes at Advent are made of cheap parafin wax which is tricky to take care of even with a candle follower because they almost never burn even.
Having been a former sacristan for almost ten years I know how tricky parafin can be.
Top quality beeswax candles that can be purchased in traditional Advent candles are 3 to 4 times the cost of parafin wax candles.

In my parish not even colored ribbins are used. No official blessing of the Advent Wreath before the congregation was made the first week of Advent or the lighting succesion of each candle as each week of Advent follows in succession. Nor is there any mention of Gaudete Sunday as will celebrated next Sunday.

The tradition of the Advent Wreath has a relatively long stating history over 500 years ago even before the original pagan rituals surrounding the Christmas Tree before Christianity adopted Christian symbolism in both the Advent Wreath and the Christmas Tree.

catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0132.html

Peace
Chris


#9

[quote="centurionguard, post:8, topic:307860"]
The tradition of the Advent Wreath has a relatively long stating history over 500 years ago even before the original pagan rituals surrounding the Christmas Tree before Christianity adopted Christian symbolism in both the Advent Wreath and the Christmas Tree.

catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0132.html

Peace
Chris

[/quote]

While it may have a long history in Christianity, it has a relatively short history in Liturgy. I never saw an Advent wreathe in church until the late 70s, after I was married.


#10

[quote="Phemie, post:9, topic:307860"]
While it may have a long history in Christianity, it has a relatively short history in Liturgy. I never saw an Advent wreathe in church until the late 70s, after I was married.

[/quote]

That is what I understood as well. Part of my Mother's family is from Russia/Eastern Eurpoe and they used the advent wreath as a family tradition. The other part of her family is from Mexico and they have completely different Advent and Christmas traditions that don't involve evergreen wreaths. ;)

I have always seen it as a domestic church practice that got moved to parish church possibly as traditional practices fell by the wayside in people's homes.

Our parish does not have any kind of special blessing for the wreath or practice of having a family light it etc. The altar boys light the candles when they light the altar candles before Mass.


#11

After 29 years in a foreign service family, I have seen all sorts of Advent wreaths, all white candles, blue candles, red ones, gold, silver etc. I have only seen wreaths with three purple candles and one pink candle in the United States, or places with significant American influence. I wouldn't be too concerned about what color the candles are.


#12

[quote="Phemie, post:9, topic:307860"]
While it may have a long history in Christianity, it has a relatively short history in Liturgy. I never saw an Advent wreathe in church until the late 70s, after I was married.

[/quote]

I was also thinking the same thing (not that I was married in the 70s, that the advent wreath is a private devotion :) )


#13

[quote="Phemie, post:9, topic:307860"]
While it may have a long history in Christianity, it has a relatively short history in Liturgy. I never saw an Advent wreathe in church until the late 70s, after I was married.

[/quote]

Just what I heard: It started out as a Lutheran tradition in Germany by Johann Hinrich Wichern in 1839.

I don't remember them growing up until recently.

aquinasandmore.com/catholic-articles/history-of-the-advent-wreath/article/78/sort/relevance/productsperpage/12/layout/grid/currentpage/1/keywords/advent%20wreath


#14

[quote="Phemie, post:9, topic:307860"]
While it may have a long history in Christianity, it has a relatively short history in Liturgy. I never saw an Advent wreathe in church until the late 70s, after I was married.

[/quote]

In 1967 I was 10 years old living on the outskirts of Greater Montreal year of Expo 67. Later in 1968 I moved to Ste Foy Quebec/Ville du Quebec until moving back to the Canadian Maritimes in 1975. But I do have recollection of an Advent Wreath being in Quebec parishes during the 1960's. In fact I remember the Sacré-Cœur Nuns teaching about the Advent wreath in catechetical classes.

I can't quite remember if the Advent Wreath was in place before 1965 in the Tridentine Mass.
I have recollection of going to the Tridentine Mass but lack memory of seeing an Advent Wreath during Advent.


#15

[quote="centurionguard, post:14, topic:307860"]
In 1967 I was 10 years old living on the outskirts of Greater Montreal year of Expo 67. Later in 1968 I moved to Ste Foy Quebec/Ville du Quebec until moving back to the Canadian Maritimes in 1975. But I do have recollection of an Advent Wreath being in Quebec parishes during the 1960's. In fact I remember the Sacré-Cœur Nuns teaching about the Advent wreath in catechetical classes.

I can't quite remember if the Advent Wreath was in place before 1965 in the Tridentine Mass.
I have recollection of going to the Tridentine Mass but lack memory of seeing an Advent Wreath during Advent.

[/quote]

I think most of us consider "short history in Liturgy" to be 1940s/1950s or later.

We had an advent wreath in our Catholic home but my mother never saw it as anything other than a decoration. (That was her view of candles in general; they were to be admired as art, not lit.) Our wreath had four red candles. Back then, I don't think my mother saw any religious significance to the Advent wreath.

I do think we sometimes had an Advent wreath in my Catholic school. We also had Jesse trees and religious Advent calendars.

I think Advent Wreaths started to work their way into non-German Catholic Churches sometime in the 1970s. By the 1980s we were definitely seeing Advent Wreath blessing ceremonies in missalettes. If there is a binding directive describing the colors for candles in an Advent wreath used as part of the liturgy then I am not aware it.

My guess is that Catholics just started to use the colors that mirrored the clergy's vestments. When Advent wreath directives for liturgy were needed then someone with no special authority wrote down what he remembered from Catholic school. Once published, the guideline probably took on a life all its own.


#16

[quote="SMHW, post:15, topic:307860"]
If there is a binding directive describing the colors for candles in an Advent wreath used as part of the liturgy then I am not aware it.

[/quote]

Our own** John Lilburne**, who is fastidious in his knowledge and suggested interpretation of Church rules, posted this on another thread in 2006:

The Book of Blessings has a blessing for the Advent Wreath, which is for the USA only. It is not in the Latin edition of this book.

The Introduction to the blessing has:
"1510 Customarily the Advent Wreath is constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which are inserted four candles. According to tradition, three of the candles are violet and the fourth is rose. However, four violet or white candles may also be used."
(From Book of Blessings, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1989, ISBN 0-8146-1875-8, page 573.)

So four blue candles is a failure to faithfully follow a liturgical book, in the USA. Therefore it is an offence under the Code of Canon Law:
"Can. 846 §1 The liturgical books, approved by the competent authority, are to be faithfully followed in the celebration of the sacraments."
(The Code of Canon Law: New Revised English Translation, HarperCollins Liturgical, 1997, ISBN 0-00-599375-X, page 197).

I think a liturgical book should be followed, whether it is for a sacrament or not. But I suppose a stronger case could be made if were displayed and/or lighted during the Eucharist.


#17

[quote="Digitonomy, post:16, topic:307860"]
Our own** John Lilburne**, who is fastidious in his knowledge and suggested interpretation of Church rules, posted this on another thread in 2006:

[/quote]

Thanks for the reference.

Centurianguard lives in Canada and I don't know if that is an issue. But it would *seem *that four white candles are appropriate.

But I'd still bet that I'm correct and that what was written in the book of blessings about candle colors reflects the childhood experience of someone. And that person's experience probably became law by means of publication rather than because the Church had major concerns about the colors.


#18

When it comes to liturgical colors, there is only one 'thing' that is required to follow the color of the day: the clergy vestments (stoles, chasubles, and dalmatics), and even then, white, gold, and silver are optional substitutes.

So, nothing else is required to follow the liturgical colors: not banners, nor altar cloths, nor candles, nor decorations, etc....

The Advent Wreath isn't even part of the Liturgy of the Church. It is a devotion which may be incorporated into Mass by blessing it the first Sunday of Advent. But since this particular devotion follows the Liturgical Calendar, it has been traditional to make the colors of the candles match the liturgical colors. But they don't have to be. There's no regulation determining it.

Furthermore, the pink/rose/light-red of the third week of Advent is optional. The liturgical texts of the third week of Advent make no reference to it being Gaudete Sunday. There's no language like "On this especially joyful Sunday of Advent..." It's just the third Sunday of Advent, not even the last. And the old practices of harsh penitential days of Advent are long gone... there's no need to signal "Whew! This tough season's almost over!" in imitation of Laudate Sunday of Lent (which is also pink-optional).

Which all means... the color of the candles don't matter. It's the countdown that matters. Also, in my experience, the colored candles are a big pain to deal with since the large ones are not a solid color. They have a colored shell which is harder than the interior wax and doesn't melt correctly causing the wick-followers to get stuck or go crooked. Constantly trimming them was a big pain. The white ones are so much better to deal with. (Of course, since they're not truly liturgical candles, they don't have to be wax.)


#19

Customarily the Advent Wreath is constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which are inserted four candles. According to tradition, three of the candles are violet and the fourth is rose. However, four violet or white candles may also be used."

"Customarily... According to tradition... may..."

Notice the lack of 'should' or 'must' or simply plain directive language. The overuse of the subjunctive here indicates a wide latitude of freedom while describing what is ordinarily done just in case someone didn't know what an Advent Wreath was. Will some people abuse the freedom by doing crazy stuff which someone will anecdotally recount*? Of course, welcome to humanity. But this should in no way be read to contradict the use of four blue candles or four purple kerosene lanterns, e.g., when done in good taste.

*OK, I'll be the one: I was attending a ministerial conference in Advent where the 'wreath' was a white donut-shaped plywood painted white decorated not in greens, but by colored scarves (which was symbolic of something entirely different, but kludged into the devotion of the Wreath). The 'candles' were PVP pipes ridiculously skinny and too tall for the proportions of the 'wreath' and the 'flames' were candelabra lights which was lit by someone going up to it and tightening it. Do I win?


#20

well, not quite. You can’t use white, gold, or silver, in place of any vestment.


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