Season Of Advent
The term advent is derived from Latin “adventus” which means “coming”. The pagans used the word to mean the coming of their god. The term also meant the visit of a king to a city or the coronation day of the sovereign.
Early Christians (around 600 AD) purified this understanding and advent became a period of intense preparation for Christmas. It therefore originated in the early church as a short period of intense preparation for celebration of the nativity/ birth of our lord Jesus Christ. It slowly came to be structured into the four weeks of advent we have today.
Advent has twofold character and therefore divided into two.
- From 1st Sunday to 16th In this period the focus of the liturgy, i.e. readings, prayers are on the second coming of Christ at the end of time.
- From 17th December to 24th December when the focus is on Christmas. This time Christians are invited to observe a Novena, intensify their prayers; prepare their hearts through repentance to receive Christ in their hearts during Christmas.
At times we concentrate on what to slaughter, dress code, sites to visit etc. at the expense of interior preparations.
The period is generally marked with expectancy. The things we hope and wish to get, the liberation from worldly slavery and therefore we should pray intensely that with the birth of Christ we may get back our freedom. We join the Israelites who waited for the messiah with a lot of expectancy listening to the prophets.
Today two things prepare us for advent. The word, which is proclaimed at mass especially from prophet Isaiah, who was very explicit about the coming of the messiah and the sacraments, particularly Eucharist and penance. This will make our hearts ready to receive Christ when he is born and avoid creating a situation whereby he has to be born in a manger.
INNER ATTITUDES IN THIS SEASON
First and foremost there is much insistence on watchfulness .we tend to allow so many things to take much of our attention and energy like Job, money etc. We slowly lose sight of what is important. Advent is raising an alarm we should refocus now and be watchful.
Watchfulness leads us the second attitude namely the capacity to recognize The Lord who comes to us. In advent we are challenged to see how he makes his presence felt among us
This recognition leads us to welcome Christ in joy. Our expectancy takes concrete shape.
- Playing of musical instruments as well as floral decoration of the church is done in moderation that reflects the expectancy character of the season. Liturgical dance and the Gloria should be omitted. This restraint conveys the character of the season and prepares us for the joy of the nativity of The Lord at Christmas.
- The colour is purple colour used for the sacrament of penance and reconciliation perhaps to reflect the reconciliation mood of the season in terms of preparation of the hearts.
- Advent wreath is circle of evergreen branches with four candles one lighted for each week – three purple and one pink. The pink one is lighted on the third Sunday of advent. The candles symbolize the light that Christ will bring to the world when he is born.
- The tree of Jesse can be prepared in different ways. This shows the genealogy of Jesus. Jesse was the father of King David and the promises God made to Abraham are being fulfilled in Jesus son of David. Pictures of important figures in the salvation history like Adam, Eve, Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, the Blessed Virgin Mary may be hanged there. These last two are the most important figures who journey with us in advent. John the Baptist is sent as a forerunner to prepare the way for the messiah While the Blessed virgin Mary is the fully graced, the Chosen daughter of Israel who undid the sin of eve. She is the beautiful branch from the root of Jesse. Let us ask for their intercession.
May this advent make a difference in the way you conduct yourself as a dad, mum, son, and daughter in the family. May it transform you that you may exhibit Christian values at your place of work. May it help you to be more active in church activities and preserve your dignity and dignity of others. May it help me too to be more faithful in my dignified calling of priesthood. Let’s pray for each other and pray for our country Kenya that has been endorsed as a very important country in this region by His Holiness Pope Francis.
Rev. Fr. Bernard N Kabiu