Welcome to Advent
A time to meditate on the mysteries of our faith
"The entire course of Advent waiting is an act of Hope. Our life needs to be an act of Christian hope. Waiting can become unbearable if we remain completely uncertain about expecting or daring a new reality to come!"
- Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
ADVENT (ad-venio in Latin, or "to come to") – the four Sundays and the weekdays preceding Dec. 25 – is a period to slow down and ponder the incarnation of God. The period is set aside to both remember Christ's first coming as a babe in Bethlehem and remind ourselves that we are awaiting His return.
- New: Blessing of an Advent Wreath at Home (PDF) - Office of Worship
- About Advent Wreaths
- Blessing of a Christmas Tree
- Blessing of a Christmas Manger or Nativity Scene
- The "O Antiphons" of Advent
- Lectio Divina for Advent
- Commentary on the Proper Prayers of Advent from the Roman Missal
- Liturgical Notes for Advent
- Also, this Christmas, make plans to go to Mass twice on Christmas weekend.
Here's why: Two Masses for Christmas? A Christmas Mass explainer by Adam Brill
Find new ways to draw deeper into your faith with these articles from The Texas Catholic Herald
- Preparing for Christ now and at the end of time by Brian Garcia-Luense
- The devotional practice of the Advent wreath by Chris Labadie
- Making room for the light of Christ during Advent by Mark Ciesielski
- The Waiting Game by Julie Blevins
- Waiting in Hope by Nicole Labadie
- Advent is the ‘joy of waiting’ before Christmas
- Advent: A season of preparation
- Amid holiday bustle, Nativity scenes share Christmas’ true meaning
- Blessing of the Advent Wreath in Your Home
- Jesse Tree: Advent custom traces genealogy of Jesus
- Antiphons are pillars of prayer during Advent
Advent Practices and Opportunities
Lighting an Advent wreath is a time-honored custom in the Church.
Traditionally, Advent wreaths are constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which four candles are inserted, representing the four weeks of Advent. Ideally, three candles are purple and one is rose, but white candles can also be used.
The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of his second coming to judge the living and the dead.
- The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time.
- The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass.
- Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. -- USCCB
Sponsor a disadvantaged family: Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston seeks Angel Sponsors to assist with its "Share Your Blessings" program by providing items such as clothing, blankets, and toiletries for disadvantaged families and toys for the children of these families. In years' past, more than 3,000 were served through this program. Visit Catholic Charities' website or call 713-874-6727.
Countdown to Christmas: Using an Advent calendar – a special calendar with "windows" that can be opened for the 24 days before Christmas – is another way to mentally gear up for Dec. 25. By patiently opening the windows one day at a time, you build up to Christmas as a joyous feast. Visit the U.S. Bishops' Advent website for a printable Advent calendar.
Help others: Advent is an opportune period to offer service to friends, neighbors, and strangers as recognition of Christ's coming to us through our brothers and sisters. Contact Catholic Charities, San Jose Clinic, or your local chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for Archdiocesan opportunities to help those in need this season.
Show and tell your spiritual genealogy: Decorating a Jesse Tree is another popular Advent tradition. Each day of Advent, an ornament representing key persons in salvation history leading to the birth of Christ is placed on a tree and Scripture verses pertaining to each person are read. The symbolic ornaments are traditionally handmade, and those placed on the Jesse Tree starting Dec. 17 represent the "O Antiphons" of Advent. The popular hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is a compilation of these seven prayers set to music.
Pray the Rosary.
Don't forget: the celebrations keep going after Dec. 25. Although the world may quickly tire of carols and lights after Dec. 25, the Church has only begun to celebrate the great mystery of God with us – Emmanuel. The days after Christmas offer a chance to relish the feasts of St. Stephen, the Holy Innocents, the Holy Family, the Solemnity of Mary, Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord. Spending time with the Scriptures from Advent until the end of the Christmas season calls us to set our hearts on the things that really matter, the things that really last.
For information on Advent or other suggestions of ways to celebrate the season, visit the U.S. Bishops' website on Advent. Keep visiting this web page throughout the Advent season for more information on local opportunities to serve during Advent.