The beginning of our new year
The liturgical year is the church’s way of celebrating and reliving the great events of our salvation. It begins with Advent, four weeks of preparation for the coming of Jesus, both at Christmas and His second coming.
Colors are used in vestments and other altar items to express various meanings. In advent we use purple to signify anticipation, purification and penance.
As a church, we are a “pilgrim people,“ traveling together toward God. In Advent we are on a pilgrimage to Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph where they had to go to be enrolled. We walk with them courageously towards the birth of Christ.
The Advent Wreath
Come Lord Jesus!
The word advent means “coming.”
During this season we prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming both at Christmas time and His second coming.
The Advent Wreath reminds us daily that we must prepare!
The Advent wreath is shaped in a circle, made of evergreens and has four candles. The circle, which has no beginning and no end, signifies the eternity of God and His unending love. The evergreens symbolize continuous life as they stay green all year.
The four candles, one for each week of Advent are placed evenly around the circle. On each Sunday of Advent another candle is lit. Three candles are purple and one is pink. The color purple is a sign of repentance, prayer and the sacrifices we do to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. The color pink represents joy and rejoicing. The pink candle is lit on the Third Sunday as we draw near the midpoint of Advent. The light of the candles themselves signifies Christ, the light of the world.
On the first Sunday of Advent one purple candle on the Advent wreath is lit and the wreath is blessed. It is then lit every day, usually at meal time and a prayer is said. During the second week of Advent, a prayer is said and two purple candles are lit each day. During the third week, a prayer is said and three candles (2 purple and the pink one) are lit. All four are lit during the final week of Advent. There are many blessings and prayers which can be used. Links to a daily prayer and to the US Bishops’ wreath blessing are below
The Walk to Bethlehem
How far is it?
The direct distance, as the crow flies, is about 70 miles. However, Mary and Joseph probably walked more than that before they reached their destination in Bethlehem.
The shortest route was directly south through Samaria but it’s hilly terrain and would’ve been extremely difficult for Mary, due to her advanced pregnancy. Many believe that Mary and Joseph took a safer route further east in the Jordan Valley and then proceeded through the Judean desert to Jerusalem and onward to Bethlehem. By the end of their track, they would’ve walked more than 95 miles much of that distance across difficult terrain. Opinions differ on how many days it took Mary and Joseph to complete their journey, but many scholars believe 7-10 days!