Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent Wreaths and Home Altars

Tomorrow (Dec. 2nd) is the first Sunday of Advent; never mind that you've already opened the first door to your chocolate Advent calendar. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday from Christmas. It's a time to prepare for Christ's birthday.

Many people already have their Christmas trees decorated and lights on their houses. It's exciting to see, but I've been trying to keep our family focused on time of preparation--preparing not just our home, but our hearts.

Like Lent (the preparatory time before Easter), we focus on repentance, anticipated joy, and especially prayer. Some years we succeed better than others.

Our outer work reflects our inner world and also help us focus on what our inner focus should be. The Advent wreath is a super way to do this. It's traditionally an evergreen wreath with four  candles. Three are violet and one is rose colored. On each Sunday of Advent, we light one more. First Sunday- one violet. Second Sunday- two violet. Third Sunday (Rejoice Sunday)-two violet and one rose. Fourth Sunday-three violet and one rose.

The gradual progression helps us to anticipate Christ's birth. Evergreen branches symbolize continuous life. The circle of the wreath is for the eternity of God. Violet is for repentance. The rose candle is for hope and rejoicing that Christ will soon come.

At our home, we have the wreath on the table and light it each night before dinner, saying a special prayer. American Catholic has nice prayer ideas for Advent.

Additionally, decorating your home altar or fireplace mantel with purple and evergreen is a lovely reminder of the season.


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