Human beings cannot live without hope. Unlike the animals, we are blessed – or cursed – with the ability to think about the future and to fear our actions to shaping it. So essential is this to human life, that human beings cannot live without hope, without something to live for, without something to look forward to. To be without hope, to have nothing to live for, is to surrender to death in despair. But we can find all sorts of things to live for and we we can hope for almost anything: for some measure of success or security or for the realization of some more or less modest ambition, for our children, that they might be saved from our mistakes and sufferings and find a better life than we have known; for a better world, throwing ourselves into politics or medicine or technology so that future generations might be better off. Not all these forms of hope are selfish; indeed, they have given dignity and purpose to the lives of countless generations.
But one of the reasons why we read the Old Testament during Advent is to learn what to hope for. The people of the Old Testament had the courage to hope for big things; that the desert would be turned into fertile land; that their scattered and divided people would eventually be gathered again; that the blind would see, the deaf hear, the lame walk; that only their own people, but all the peoples of the earth, would be united in the blessings of everlasting peace. Clearly, their hopes were no different from ours or from any human being’s lasting peace, tranquil lives, sufficiency of food, and end to suffering, pain and misery.
Thus we hope for the same things as the Old Testament peoples, for their hopes are not yet realized. But we differ from them in two ways. First, the coming of Jesus in history, as a partial fulfillment of God’s promises, immeasurably confirms and strengthens our hope. Secondly, we differ from the Old Testament people because Jesus has revealed to us that God is not afar off, but is already in our midst. Hence the importance in the Advent liturgy of John the Baptist and of Mary: because they recognized the new situation, they serve as models for the Church in discerning the presence of our Savior in the world.
Taken from “The Spirit of Advent,” Mark Searle, in Assembly, Volume 7:1, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, Notre Dame, IN
The Advent season is the beginning of the liturgical year. It is four weeks of preparing our hearts for the coming of the Savior who will bring healing, hope for peace on earth, and joy to the world. Although we may begin to feel the expectation of Christmas, we start by pausing to contemplate in silence and prayer what we hope for and what is to come - the birth of a King who leads us to salvation. We long for the coming of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace.
What does the word “Advent” means?
“Advent” refers to “the coming of Christ into the world” or to “the liturgical period preceding Christmas.” It may also refer to the “Second Coming” of Christ, the “Advent of the Lord.” The word is derived from the Latin adventus (“arrival, approach”), made up of the preposition ad- (“to, towards”), the verbal root ven- (from venire, “to come”), and the suffix -tus (indicating verbal action).
What is an Advent Wreath?
The Advent Wreath represents the long time when people lived in spiritual darkness, waiting for the coming of the Messiah, the Light of the world. Each year in Advent people wait once again in darkness for the coming of the Lord, His historical coming in the mystery of Bethlehem, His final coming at the end of time, and His special coming in every moment of grace. It is traditionally made of some type or mixture of evergreens, symbolizing the continuation of life in the middle of the cold and dark winter (in the northerly latitudes, at least). Advent wreaths traditionally include three purple/violet candles and on pink/rose-colored candle, which are arranged evenly around the wreath.