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All about Advent

NOV 29. 2020: Today’s the first day of Advent. This is a season to help us to prepare ourselves to fully and truly appreciate Jesus Christ, and wait in anticipation of His second coming as we celebrate His first coming. Advent is filled with tradition and practices, and each one is meant to make us reflect on God and His character, appreciate the redeeming work done by Jesus and in the process strengthen our faith in Him.

Liturgical Calendar
1. The Church observes an annual cycle of seasons which is filled with celebrations, feast days, and this cycle is called the liturgical calendar, year or cycle.
2. In each liturgical year, there are six seasons:
i. Advent – four weeks of preparation before the celebration of Jesus’ birth
ii. Christmas – we celebrate the birth of Jesus
iii. Lent – a six-week period of penance before Easter
iv. Sacred Paschal Triduum – the holiest Three Days of the calendar
v. Easter – 50 days of joyful celebration of the Lord’s resurrection and his sending forth of the Holy Spirit
vi. Ordinary Time – in between the seasons

The Sundays in Advent
1. Comes from the Latin word adventus which means The Coming. So we prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus – His glorious second coming as we remember His birth on earth as man. There is both remembrance and anticipation.
2. Advent begins on the Sunday closest to Nov 30, which is the fourth Sunday leading to Christmas. Each of the four Sundays holds a meaning. The first two Sundays (this year, they fall on Nov 29 and Dec 6) is for us to look forward to the second coming of Christ and the last two (Dec 13 and 20) are to remember His first coming.
3. Each Sunday carries a theme: Hope (first Sunday); Peace (second), Joy (third), Love (fourth).

Advent wreath and candles
1. To mark the Advent season, some families set up a model of the manger – the crib, with Baby Jesus, Mother Mary and St Joseph, the animals and shepherds. These models can be small table-top ones or big ones in their front yard.
2. Some families have the Advent wreath or Advent crown. This is a small round wreath where the frame is covered with green leaves (referred to as the evergreen leaves) and it holds four or five candles. Three purple candles, one rose-coloured candle (not pink, rose). And if there is a fifth candle, it’s white and is placed in the centre. This candle is also called the Christ candle.
3. The four candles represent the theme for the Sunday or week. Purple is the traditional colour of penitential seasons (Advent and Lent), a time of reflection. Rose is the “rejoice ye” colour, a pause in the penitential spirit of Advent.
4. On the first Sunday, the family comes together and the first candle is lit. Then they read the Scriptures, and spend time on devotions and prayers. The same happens on each of the remaining Sundays except for one small variation. On the second and fourth Sunday, the purple candles are lit but on the third Sunday it is the rose one. The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Day.
5. The wreath is circular to show that there is no beginning or end in God. He is eternal.

O Antiphons (of the Great Os)
1. These are very short songs or chants sung during Vespers (evening prayers) on the last seven days leading to Christmas Eve. Each day has a different theme and song.
2. They all start with O and that is why they are called the O Antiphons. Antiphons mean a short sentence that is sung.
3. These are the titles of the songs:
Dec 17 – O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
Dec 18 – O Adonai (O Lord)
Dec 19 – O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
Dec 20 – O Clavis David (O Key of David)
Dec 21 – O Oriens (O Dayspring/ O Radiant Dawn)
Dec 22 – O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
Dec 23 – O Emmanuel (O With Us is God

Time to get closer to God
1. Here are Advent Kits from various parishes to help you and your family observe Advent:
Penang Diocese in English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil
Church of Jesus Caritas & Chapel of Kristus Aman,
2. There is also the Journey With St Luke to Christmas organised by the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. Archbishop Julian Leow and other priests will be taking you through this daily journey as you read the Book of Luke, one chapter at a time and complete the gospel on Christmas eve.
3. Our resident comic artist Dr Melanie Yeoh has created a comic to help young and new Catholics understand Advent better.
4. A video with ideas as to how you can get your young children to understand what Advent is all about and prepare them for Christmas.
5. And songs that are traditionally sung during Advent to get you into the mood.
6. A two-minute video that will give you a gist of what Advent is all about.
7. This is also a time to give generously to those in need. This year, more than any other, there are so many who are in need. To spread the love of Christ. Something as simple as this.
8. There are also feast days during this season for us to observe.