When is the start of Advent?
The Advent Season starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day or the Sunday that is closest to November 30 and it ends on Christmas Eve or December 24th. If Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, it is considered the fourth Sunday of Advent and the time after sundown is considered to be Christmas Eve.
To prepare for the beautiful celebration of Advent, let’s look into its meaning and reflect its importance in our lives as Christians.
The True Meaning of the Advent Season
The word Advent originates from a Latin word “Adventus” which means “coming” or “arrival.” Advent Season is focused on preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ in all ways, from His birth in the past to His Second Coming in the future as the Messiah.
For us Catholics, Advent is a meaningful season that reminds us of the reality of Jesus Christ and that He has come and He is present in our world and lives. The birth of Jesus is worth celebrating because it reveals His human side and is therefore an example of how we should live our own lives as his followers here on earth.
Jesus’ ascent into heaven does not mean He has abandoned us. While awaiting His return, we can still experience His presence through the Holy Spirit, our spiritual family which is the church, the sacraments and His Word.
In the Second Coming, Jesus will appear in His full glory and it will perfect and complete our community and identity as His people. It is during this time that we can finally be united with Him and spend eternity with Him in heaven.
Advent acknowledges these two significant events in our lives as Christians. It is a time for us to look back to Christ’s birth and celebrate His second coming. In the period between these two important events, we are to discover and fulfill our God-given purpose.
The Spirit of Advent in the Bible
Advent is a season marked by great expectation, celebration and longing not just for Christmas or Christ’s birth but His eventual return. The spirit of Advent Season is best illustrated in the Parable of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25:1-14
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
The five wise virgins in the story were so consumed by their joyful anticipation of the bridegroom’s arrival that they were very thorough in their preparations and brought oil with their lamps. The five foolish ones, on the other hand, were ill prepared and neglected their duties. As a result of their lukewarm devotion, they were unable to join the bridegroom when he finally arrived.
The season of Advent is the perfect reminder for us to stay focused on Jesus and remember that our earthly journey is only temporary.
Our hearts and souls must be ready when the Lord returns. Like the wise virgins in the story, we must stay faithful, vigilant and totally consumed by our devotion to Him.
Reflections for Advent Season
Like all celebrations and special events in our Catholic Faith, Advent presents us with a wonderful opportunity to look back on our spiritual journey and think about the things that we can do to strengthen our relationship with God. Here are some questions relevant to the spirit of this season:
Am I joyfully anticipating Christ’s coming?
As followers of Christ we need to strengthen our personal relationship with Him. It is through this bond that we can live in joyful anticipation of His arrival. We would never look forward to seeing someone if we did not love and care for them. For this reason, we need to be committed in cultivating our spiritual ties to our Heavenly Father.
What we can do: Take time to pray each day, read and reflect on the Word of God and find a community of fellow believers that can help you grow spiritually.
Is Christ at the center of my Advent celebration?
Nowadays Advent Season has become very commercialized with much focus placed on buying gifts and throwing lavish Christmas parties. It is very easy for us to lose ourselves in these superficial pursuits but we must not lose sight of the original purpose of this special time and that is Christ.
What we can do: Make a list of activities that you can do during Advent and Christmas that are aligned with Christ’s teachings. These can include attending Mass, doing charity work and praying with the family.
Am I living my life with eternity in mind?
Our lives here on earth is just a short series of notes in the entire symphony that makes up eternity. We therefore need to be careful with our choices and consider them in light of the bigger picture. Every thought, word and action ripples into eternal effects and creates a legacy that we will be remembered by.
What we can do: Use God’s Word as a guidance system for your plans and spend time to pray about any decisions that you are about to make.
Advent is a powerful time of preparation as we anticipate the coming of our Savior, when the Creator became one of His creatures in order to lift us up!
Celtic Advent Wreath
How do you plan to observe Advent this year?
What is the significance of this occasion to your life?