A primer on Advent

Want to know more about the season of Advent? Why we call it “Advent”? How does it prepare us for the Christmas joy?

Sr. Linda Gaupin has compiled a series of factoids, videos and primers on the four weeks of Advent. Take time to enjoy them throughout the season.

Season of Advent – Sacred Heart – St. Bridget

The Season of Advent

“39. 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. Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation.

40. Advent begins with evening prayer I of the Sunday falling on or closest to 30 November and ends before evening prayer I of Christmas. 41. The Sundays of this season are named the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Sundays of Advent. The weekdays from 17 December to 24 December inclusive serve to prepare more directly for the Lord’s birth.”

[Taken from the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar, issues by Rome February 14, 1969]

Faith Formation for the Season of Advent

The First Sunday of Advent is November 29, 2020. On this Sunday the Catholic Church begins a new liturgical year. I have provided the following faith formation for Advent. The following topics are included in this email.

  1. Watch the Video from Busted Halo: Advent in Two Minutes
  2. The Meaning of Advent
  3. The Advent Wreath
  4. Make Your Own Advent Wreath
  5. Blessing of the Advent Wreath in the Home
  6. Advent Calendar
  7. “O” Antiphons – Prayed from December 17 – December 24 – Listen to the monks of St. John’s Abbey sing the O Antiphon for each day.
  8. Advent Foods

Watch the video from Busted Halo entitled: “Advent in Two Minutes

Busted Halo: Advent in Two Minutes

The Meaning of Advent

The word “Advent” is taken from the Latin – “ad-venrie” meaning “ to come.” The season of Advent celebrates and makes real our belief that Jesus Christ came in the past, comes in the present, and will come again in the future.

The first two Sundays of Advent celebrate our belief in Christ’s second coming. On the first Sunday of Advent [November 29, 2020] Mark’s Gospel tells us that “Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent we see the figure of John the Baptist telling the people to prepare the way of the Lord.

John the Baptist – God's Surpriser – Lavish Mercy

The Third Sunday of Advent reminds us that Christ comes to us today if only we will recognize him. In the Gospel we hear John the Baptist telling the people “there is one among you whom you do not recognize.”

The Fourth Sunday of Advent celebrates Christ’s coming in the past. The Gospel recounts the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary: ““Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.

On the final days of Advent the church prepares intensely for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord. From December 17 to December 24 the church prays the “O Antiphons.” [See the article below].

The Advent Wreath

Advent Second Sunday | Changing Times Changing Worlds

Advent Wreath – Origins and Meaning of the Advent Wreath Today.

 The Advent wreath has long been a part of our catholic tradition. The advent wreath was originally meant for use in the home, not in the church.

When it is in the church it should be hung from the ceiling.

We are not sure of the origin of the advent wreath but there is evidence that it began in the homes of Germanic Christians who used wreaths with lit candles during the dark days of December. The wreath became a sign of home for warmer days and long hours of sun light. Another story is that in winter in Scandinavia lighted candles were placed around a wheel and prayers were offered to the god of light to turn the while of the earth back to the sun to lengthen the days and restore the warmth.

Today the Advent wreath is a symbol we use to mark the weeks of Advent when we preparing for Christmas. It is usually made of evergreen branches. The wood of the branches reminds us of the wood of the cross upon which Christ gave his life for us. The four candles represent the four weeks of advent.

Three candles are purple and one candle is rose. The purple candles remind us that we are entering a season of prayer and preparation for the coming of Christ. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent. This is called “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” because we are now mid way through Advent. On this Sunday the priest will also wear rose vestments.

Make your own Advent Wreath

You can make your own advent wreath for your home. You can buy a fresh [or plastic] evergreen wreath at a store. Or you can cut your own evergreen branch from a tree and put it in a circle using wire etc. Purchase 3 purple candles and 1 pink candle. You can insert these into the wreath or buy small candles holders and set them within the wreath. Some people decorate the wreath with ribbons, pine cones, and/or flowers.

The Danish Advent Wreath

advent wreath

            Here is a different idea to hold up the candles from the Advent wreath using a braided loaf of bread.  One good thing about this recipe is that no-one is going to actually eat it.  It’s going to be sitting on your table for a month, so you’re really just going for looks.

For the pastry

  • 2 envelopes yeast
  • 1 c. milk, brought almost to boiling
  • 1/2 c. shortening or butter
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 4 1/2 c. flour

For the filling

  • 2 Tbsp. butter (melted)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. golden raisins, raisins, or craisins

Combine last three ingredients.

For the Glaze

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp. milk


  1. Place the milk, shortening, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan.  Heat until the shortening (or butter) is just melted.  Cool to lukewarm and sprinkle in the yeast.  Let sit for about 5 minutes while the yeast gets fizzy, or “proofs” (if you want to get technical).
  2. Add the eggs and the flour, mix until dough forms.
  3. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (for about 8 minutes)
  4. Place in a greased bowl, turn once, and cover with saran wrap.  Let rest in a warm place (I often use the oven) until double.
  5. Punch the dough down, Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Divide the dough into three pieces.  Roll each of these pieces into strips about 2 inches in diameter.  Brush the pieces with the melted butter and roll in the filling.  Braid the strips together, working from the middle out toward each end. Turn the ends together to form a wreath 12 inches in diameter.  Use a well-greased bundt pan for a tighter-looking wreath or if you don’t have a bundt pan, you can use a cookie sheet as below:
  7. Cover and let rise again until double. (about 30-40 min)
  8. Brush with the glaze and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Bless Your Own Advent Wreath!!

The use of the Advent Wreath is a traditional practice which has found its place in the Church as well as in the home. The blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on the evening before the First Sunday of Advent. When the blessing of the Advent Wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family. [From Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers]

All make the sign of the cross as the leader says:


Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All:      Who made heaven and earth.

[Pick a scriptural reading from the bible from one of the following selections:]

Isaiah 9: (lines 1-2 and 5-6)

Isaiah 63 (lines 16-17 & 19)

Isaiah 64  (lines 2-7) is read:

Reader: The Word of the Lord.
All. Thanks be to God.

With hands joined, the leader says:


Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.

Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
All. Amen.

The blessing may conclude with a verse from
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

—From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers

Advent Calendar

A very popular symbol used to celebrated the Season of Advent is the Advent Calendar. Many Christians use the Advent Calendar to mark the days leading up to the Nativity [December 25]. The Advent Calendar is believed to have been created by Christians in the early 19th century to mark the days of Advent leading up to Christmas.

Advent calendars are made for use in the home. They enable families to enter the Advent Season in a special way by counting down the days to Christmas. They are a great way to generate anticipation and excitement in the home. Some Advent calendars have doors that open to reveal a symbol of Advent or Christmas, while others have symbols that are individually placed on the calendar for each day. Some special Advent calendars even have chocolates or other treasures hidden behind each door or window.

Advent Calendars have become very popular in our culture. If you Google “advent calendars” you will find topics like:

“63 Best Advent Calendars 2020”

“36 Best Advent Calendars 2020”

“15+ Best Alcohol Advent Calendars 2020”

“23 Weird but Wonderful Advent Calendars.

. . . . and so on.

The most popular Advent Calendars are those made with chocolate figures behind each advent door. Fresh Market in the plaza on Dr. Philips sold several varieties of these last year.

If you go online you can find Advent Calendars filled with perfumes, cheeses, jerky, whiskey and beer, coffee, and a variety of candies and meats. You name it. An Advent Calendar has been produced to meet your every need!!

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