Our Catholic faith does not leap out of history on Christmas Day nor on Calvary. Our Catholic Religion began the day our first parents were expelled from the Garden of Eden. It began with God’s promise of a Redeemer. God spoke to the serpent:
Advent is a time of anticipation in and waiting for the birth of Jesus. As devout Catholics we should be keenly aware of the grander of its significance. Not for us just the frenzied materialism that drives the modern world.
“ I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (Gen 3:15)
From that time onward to the birth of Christ the Jewish People waited and watched for the coming of the Redeemer. It is generally counted by Bible Historians to be about 6 thousands years. But during that time God was in constant dialogue with His people. He sent them many prophets to give them knowledge as what to look out for in their waiting for this Saviour. Through the years God constantly guided them but more than anything He taught them His ways.
Prophets announce the coming of The Redeemer
For that detailed information we turn to the Old Testament and the Prophets. Prophets were men who were, through their holiness, in close contact with God. They called the people to holiness, they shouted loudly and reminded the Israelites of the moral code that was set by God when He gave the 10 commandment to Moses. Prophets called upon both Kings and people to realise that God was about to chastise them in their current sinfulness.
But most important of all Prophets foretold of the coming Redeemer or Massiah. A Redeemer who would be born of a Virgin
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good.” (Isiaih 14:7)
The Anticipation and The Longing
Remember how when the Holy Family went to the temple. Simeon when he met them and saw Jesus announces that this is the Redeemer and he himself had prayed that he would not die before he saw Him. From this we get a clear understanding of how the people longed for the Saviour. We must long for Christmas too.
There were wise men pouring over ancient texts and mapping the stars working out when and where the Saviour would arrive.
Shepherds sat by their camp fires at night tending their sheep discussing what they knew of the coming massaih. Each of them had their own opinion of the time of His coming.
All longed and waited for the birth of the Redeemer.
Saint John the Baptist spent years and years in solitude, penance, fasting and preparing for the Redeemer. He knew he must prepare himself first in order that he prepare the people. We also need this time of preparation for Christmas. We prepare our homes and our hearts for the infant Jesus.
Understanding the roots of our faith deep in the Old Testament does not mean that we are Jewish no more than we are protestant. For while the Jewish people stopped and we continued on; the protestants broke away and went off in a different direction.
Advent: The Journey
Our journey to holiness travels along a well worn path. Catholic liturgy signposts this path through the life of Christ. And it begins not at Christmas Day but on the first Sunday of Advent. To pinpoint this date just count back four Sundays from Christmas Day. The third Sunday is known as Gaudete Sunday, the fourth Sunday is Laetare Sunday.
As part of our preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth we treat Advent much as we celebrate Lent.
Fasting and Penance needs to be planned without compromising the duties of our state in life. A new commitment to our prayer life will give us a feeling of Christ with us. We can imagine joining with the Blessed Virgin in Her preparations for the birth of Her child after she came home from her visit to help Her cousin Elizabeth.
In these modern times where paganism has become the dominant force in the world it helps to remember that Our Lord was born into a world of paganism and sin. Things were pretty bad then and they are pretty bad now! But look at all the folk who lived in great hope for the Saviour’s reign on earth.
Let’s join these people of God in their preparation prayer and penance.
Here are some questions put to Catholics about Advent:
What is the meaning of the word Advent?
The word advent is from the Latin adventus which means “coming” and obviously pertains to the ‘coming’ of Christ. The interesting thing is that in Greek parousia pertains to the Second coming of Christ, the Latin for the first coming is adventus. So the Church in the first Sunday of Advent meditates on the aspect of Advent of the second coming. As the Jewish people watched for the coming of the Saviour so too we watch for the return or the second coming of Christ.
What is Advent and why do we celebrate it?
The Catholic Church begins its Liturgical year four Sundays before Christmas day and entitles the period “Advent” This event celebrates the earthly birth of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago and also looks forward in anticipation for the second coming of Christ. The celebration is seen in relevant messages in the 4 Sunday masses with focused Epistles, Gospels and Antiphons.
What is the difference between Advent and Christmas
Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas. While Christmas is celebrated on the 24th December, known as Christmas Eve with a Mass at midnight and morning masses on the 25th December.
What do Catholics do during Advent?
Advent is a period of spiritual preparation in which many Catholics make themselves ready for the coming, or birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Celebrating Advent typically involves a season of prayer, fasting, and repentance, followed by anticipation, hope, and joy
.Why does the priest wear purple during Advent
In Catholic Church Liturgy, Purple is the colour of penance, preparation and sacrifice.
What is the 3rd Sunday of Advent called?
The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word meaning “rejoice.” This Sunday is so named because “Rejoice” is the first word in the entrance antiphon for today’s Mass taken from Philippians 4:4,5: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!
What is the 4th Sunday of Advent called?
The fourth Sunday of Advent is known at Laetare Sunday and is like a little break from the austerities of the penitential period that is Advent.
A devout Catholic will always seek ways to escape the materialism of Advent to become more spiritual and closer to God. With this in mind we study closely the Sunday Liturgy of the season of Advent. This will help us be better able to focus on the penance, fasting and prayer necessary to bring us closer to God. Think of the enjoyment of praying alongside those Israelites who waited and planned the coming of the Redeemer. Making their anticipation and excitement the focus of your preparation; your Advent promises to bring many graces this year – in time for Christmas.