What is Advent?

Advent Candle Wreath

Prayer to St. Jude for Advent

Lord Jesus, your power is infinite; your glory, everlasting. Quietly you come into the world as an innocent child. Ready my heart for the miracle of your birth. Bring light to the world, as we wait silently for your warmth in the coldness of the night. Bless me with patience and faithful discipline to prayerfully prepare to welcome and greet you.St. Jude, Patron of Hope, pray that Christ’s holiness will flow into me this Advent. May Christmas joy and burning love take root in me and grow to carry the joy beyond me and inspire hope in others. Amen.

Advent is the season that leads up to Christmas. It’s a time we use to pray and reflect in anticipation of the coming of our Lord and the start of the Christmas Season.

Meaing of Advent

The New Year in the Church begins with the season of Advent — a time to help us prepare for Christmas, when we celebrate the fulfillment of our longing for the Savior with the birth of Jesus. So, what is Advent? It’s the season that lasts about four weeks, beginning four Sundays before Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve. The Church’s Christmas season begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for twelve days. So, Advent is a season of anticipation that leads up to Christmas. During this time, we observe a season of prayer, and reflection — followed by anticipation, hope and joy. Each Sunday during Advent we light a candle on the Advent wreath.

History of Advent

Advent as a season has evolved throughout history. What began as a liturgical season focused mainly on repentance now embodies joyful preparation for Christmas. Though the precise beginning of the celebration of Advent isn't known, there are writings from as early as the 5th century that mention the season of Advent.

Praying with us during Advent

Take time for meditation and reflection each day of Advent by remembering to offer God your gifts of heartfelt gratitude and love. Please send your Advent intention and it will be placed at the altar of St. Jude at the National Shrine of St. Jude. Together we await the birth of the Savior. May your faith be refreshed as you keep yourself open to God's love during this Holy season of Advent.

Advent traditions

One of the primary traditions of Advent is the lighting of the Advent wreath. Each candle lit represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ. The circle of branches of the wreath symbolize the eternal cycle of the seasons while the evergreens and lighted candles signify the persistence of life in the midst of winter.

We invite you to light a virtual Advent candle with us this season when you send your prayers or petitions to the National Shrine of St. Jude.

Another popular tradition of Advent is the Advent Calendar. Although these calendars frequently follow the entire month of December instead of strictly adhering to the Advent season. Advent calendars open up to mark each day and can contain anything from prayers to candy depending on the calendar.

Advent candles

The Advent wreath contains 4 candles. All of the candles are purple except the third (which is rose).The symbolic meanings of the candles can vary but they are often:

  1. Hope — expectation of what is to come and sometimes prophecy
  2. Love — sometimes called the Bethlehem Candle
  3. Joy — this rose candle is often called Mary’s Candle
  4. Peace — it can often be called the Angel’s Candle
Colors of Advent

The color of Advent is purple. You’ll see purple used quite often in banners around the church or in the vestments of the clergy.

Purple is used at Advent as it is at Lent to represent the penitential nature of the season. In fact, Advent used to be known as “little Lent.” The color is a symbolic reminder for us to be preparing ourselves for the coming of our Lord.

The third Sunday during Advent is called Gaudete Sunday. The word Gaudete means “rejoice.” On that Sunday your priest may wear rose vestments. This color is meant to remind us that Christmas is drawing near.