Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: Ethos, Psalms 25:4-14, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Luke 21:25-36, St Bibiana, Advent, Tradition of Advent Wreath

Sunday, December 2, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog:

Ethos, Psalms 25:4-14,  Jeremiah 33:14-16, Luke 21:25-36, Feast of Saint Bibiana, Advent, Tradition of Advent Wreath

Good Day Bloggers!  Happy Advent!
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!
Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone. The "Armageddon" is a pagan belief inspired by the evil one to create chaos and doubt in God. Trust in God, for He creates, He does not destroy and only God knows the hour of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ's second Coming, another chance at eternal salvation.  Think about how merciful God truly is as he keeps offering us second chances. He even gives the evil one a multitude of chances to atone. Simply be prepared by living everyday as a gift: Trust in God; Honor Jesus Mercy through the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist; and Utilize the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our Spirit...it's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


December 2, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

Dear children, with motherly love and motherly patience anew I call you to live according to my Son, to spread His peace and His love, so that, as my apostles, you may accept God's truth with all your heart and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then you will be able to faithfully serve my Son, and show His love to others with your life. According to the love of my Son and my love, as a mother, I strive to bring all of my strayed children into my motherly embrace and to show them the way of faith. My children, help me in my motherly battle and pray with me that sinners may become aware of their sins and repent sincerely. Pray also for those whom my Son has chosen and consecrated in His name. Thank you." 

November 25, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

“Dear children! In this time of grace, I call all of you to renew prayer. Open yourselves to Holy Confession so that each of you may accept my call with the whole heart. I am with you and I protect you from the ruin of sin, but you must open yourselves to the way of conversion and holiness, that your heart may burn out of love for God. Give Him time and He will give Himself to you and thus, in the will of God you will discover the love and the joy of living. Thank you for having responded to my call.” ~ Blessed Virgin Mary

November 02, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

"Dear children, as a mother I implore you to persevere as my apostles. I am praying to my Son to give you Divine wisdom and strength. I am praying that you may discern everything around you according to God’s truth and to strongly resist everything that wants to distance you from my Son. I am praying that you may witness the love of the Heavenly Father according to my Son. My children, great grace has been given to you to be witnesses of God’s love. Do not take the given responsibility lightly. Do not sadden my motherly heart. As a mother I desire to rely on my children, on my apostles. Through fasting and prayer you are opening the way for me to pray to my Son for Him to be beside you and for His name to be holy through you. Pray for the shepherds because none of this would be possible without them. Thank you."
~ Blessed Virgin Mary


Today's Word:  ethos  e·thos  [ee-thos]

Origin:  1850–55;  < Greek:  custom, habit, character

1. Sociology . the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period: In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.
2. the character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc.
3. the moral element in dramatic literature that determines a character's action rather than his or her thought or emotion.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 25:4-14

4 DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your paths.
5 ENCOURAGE me to walk in your truth and teach me since you are the God who saves me. FOR my hope is in you all day long -- such is your generosity, Yahweh.
8 INTEGRITY and generosity are marks of Yahweh for he brings sinners back to the path.
9 JUDICIOUSLY he guides the humble, instructing the poor in his way.
10 KINDNESS unfailing and constancy mark all Yahweh's paths, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
14 ONLY those who fear Yahweh have his secret and his covenant, for their understanding.


Today's Epistle - Jeremiah 33:14-16

14 "Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall fulfil the promise of happiness I made to the House of Israel and the House of Judah:
15 In those days and at that time, I shall make an upright Branch grow for David, who will do what is just and upright in the country.
16 In those days Judah will triumph and Israel live in safety. And this is the name the city will be called: Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice."


Today's Gospel Reading - Luke 21:25-28.34-36

The Manifestation of the Son of man:
Beginning of the new times
Beware! It can happen at any time!
Luke 21:25-28.34-36

Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.  Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

2. A reading of Luke 21:25-28.34-36

a) A key to the reading:

The liturgical text of this Sunday leads us to meditate on the discourse of Jesus on the end of the world. Today, when we speak of the end of the world, the reactions are quite varied. Some are fearful. Others are indifferent. Others begin to take life more seriously. Others still, as soon as they hear some terrible news, say: “The end of the world is drawing near!” And you? What is your opinion on this matter? How is it at that at the beginning of the liturgical, the first Sunday of Advent, the Church confronts us with the end of history?
Keeping these questions in mind, let us now try to read the text in such a way that it may challenge and question us. In the course of our reading we shall try to concentrate not on the things that are fearful, but on those that give us hope.

b) A division of the text to facilitate our reading:

Luke 21:25-26: There will be signs in sun and moon and stars.
Luke 21:27: The Son of man will come on a cloud.
Luke 21:28: The rebirth of hope in our hearts.
(Luke 21:29-33: The lesson of the parable of the fig tree).
Luke 21:34-36: An exhortation to watchfulness.

c) The Text: Luke 21:25-28.34-36

25 "And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

34 "But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; 35 for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. 36 But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man."

3. A moment of prayerful silence so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions to help us in our personal reflection.

a) What did you feel during the reading? Did you feel fear or peace? Why?
b) Did you come across anything in the text that gave you hope and courage?
c) What is it today that urges people to have hope and to keep going?
d) Why is it that at the beginning of Advent, the Church confronts us with the end of the world?
e) What can we answer to those who say that the end of the world is drawing near?
f) How do we understand the image of the coming of the Son of man on a cloud?

5. A key to the reading for those who wish to delve deeper into the theme.

I. The context of Jesus’ discourse
The text of this Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 21:25-28.34-36) is part of the so-called “eschatological discourse”(Lk 21:8-36). In Luke’s Gospel, this discourse is presented as Jesus’ reply to a question put to him by the disciples. Looking at the beauty and greatness of the temple of Jerusalem, Jesus had said: “Not one stone will be left standing!” (Lk 21:5-6). The disciples were looking for more information from Jesus regarding the destruction of the temple, and they asked: “Master, when will this happen and what will be the signs to show that it is about to happen?” (Lk 21:7).

The aim of the discourse: to help discern events
In Jesus’ time (year 33), many people, when faced with disasters, wars and persecutions, said: “The end of the world is drawing near!” The communities of Luke’s time (year 85) thought the same. Besides, during the destruction of Jerusalem (year 70) and the persecution of Christians, which had now been going on for 40 years, there were those who said: “God is no longer in control of the events of life! We are lost!” Hence the main point of the discourse is that of helping the disciples to discern the signs of the times so as not to be deceived by such sayings concerning the end of the world: “Beware not to allow yourselves to be deceived!” (Lk 21:8). The discourse presents several signs that help us in our discernment.

Six signs to help us discern the events of life
After a short introduction (Lk 21:5) the discourse proper begins. Jesus enumerates, in an apocalyptic style, the events that can be seen as signs. It is important to remember that Jesus was living and speaking in the year 33, but that the readers of Luke were living and listening to the words of Jesus about the year 85. Many things had happened between the years 33 and 85, for instance: the destruction of Jerusalem (year 70), persecutions and wars everywhere, some natural disasters. Jesus’ discourse announces these events as taking place in the future. But the community sees these things as in the past, as already having taken place:
First sign: the false messiahs who will say: “It is I! The time is at hand!” (Lk 21:8);
Second sign: war and rumours of war (Lk 21:9);
Third sign: nation will rise against nation (Lk 21:10)
Fourth sign: earthquakes, hunger and pestilence everywhere (Lk 21:11);
Fifth sign: persecution of those who proclaim the word of God (Lk 21:12-19);
Sixth sign: the siege and destruction of Jerusalem (Lk 21: 20-24).

When they heard Jesus’ proclamation, the Christian communities of the year 85 might have come to the conclusion: “All these things have come to pass or are in the process of happening! All this is happening according to a plan foreseen by Jesus! Thus history is not slipping from God’s hands”! Especially regarding the 5th and 6th signs they could say: “This is what we are experiencing today! We have already reached the 6th sign!” Then comes the question: How many sings are there left before the end comes?

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says about all the seemingly very negative things: “These are just the beginning of birth pangs!” (Mk 13:8) Although birth pangs are very painful for a mother, they are not signs of death but of life! They are no reason for fear, but for joy and hope! This way of reading the events brings calm to all. As we shall see, Luke expresses this same idea but in different words (Lk 21:28).

After this first part of the discourse (Lk 21:8-24) comes the Gospel text of the Mass of the first Sunday of Advent.

II. A commentary on the text 

Luke 21:25-26: Signs in sun and moon and stars
These two verses describe three cosmic phenomena: (1) “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars”; (2) “The roaring of the sea and waves”; (3) “The powers of the heavens will be shaken”. In the eighties, when Luke was writing, these three phenomena had not taken place. The communities could say: “This is the seventh and last sign still to come before the end!” At first sight, this seventh sign seems more terrible than the preceding ones, especially that Luke says that men will be fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. In truth, in spite of their negative appearance, these cosmic images suggest something very positive, namely, the beginning of a new creation that will take the place of the old creation (cf Ap 21:1). It is the beginning of the new heaven and the new earth, proclaimed by Isaiah (Is 65:17). They usher in the manifestation of the Son of God, the beginning of the new times.

Luke 21:27: The coming of the Kingdom of God and the manifestation of the Son of Man
This image comes from Daniel’s prophecy (Dn 7:1-14). Daniel says that after the disasters caused by the four kingdoms of this earth (Dn 7:1-8), the Kingdom of God will come (Dn 7:9-14). The four kingdoms, all have animal features: lion, bear, panther and wild beast (Dn 7:3-7). These are animal–like kingdoms. They take the life out of life (even to this day!). The Kingdom of God is represented by the figure of the Son of Man, that is, it has human features (Dn 7:13). It is a human kingdom. The task of the Christian communities is to build this kingdom that humanises. This is the new history, the new creation, in whose realisation we must collaborate.

Luke 21:28: A hope that grows in the heart
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says: “This is just the beginning of the birth pangs!” (Mk 13:8) Here, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says: “when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!” This affirmation shows that the aim of the discourse is not to cause fear but to raise hope and joy in a people suffering from persecution. Jesus’ words helped (and still help) the communities to read events from the point of view of hope. It is those who oppress and exploit the people who must fear. They, indeed, must know that their empire is finished.

Luke 21:29-33: The lesson of the parable of the fig tree
When Jesus invites us to look at the fig tree, he is asking us to analyse the events taking place. It is as though he was saying: “Learn to read the signs of the times from the fig tree and so you may discover when and where God comes into your history!” Then he ends the lesson of the parable with these words: “Heaven and earth will pass away; but my words will not pass away!” By this very well known phrase, Jesus renews hope and once more alludes to the new creation, which was already in being.

Luca 21, 34-36: An exhortation to watchfulness
God is always coming! His coming takes place when least expected. It may happen that He comes and that people are not aware of the hour of his coming (cf Mt 24:37-39). Jesus advises people to be constantly watching: (1) avoid all things that may disturb or burden the heart (dissipations, drunkenness and worries of life); (2) pray always, asking for strength to go on and wait standing for the coming of the Son of man. In other words, the discourse asks for a double attitude: on the one hand, the watchfulness of one who is always aware, and on the other, the serene calmness of one who is at peace. These attitudes are signs of great maturity, because they bring together an awareness of the seriousness of the task and an awareness of the relativity of all things.

III. Further information for a better understanding of the text 

a) When the end of the world will come

When we say “The end of the world”, what world are we talking about? Is it the end of the world of which the Bible speaks or the end of this world, where reigns the power of evil that drives away and oppresses life? This world of injustice will come to an end. No one knows what the new world will look like, because no one can imagine what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9). The new world of life without death (Apoc 21:4) surpasses all things just as the tree surpasses its seed (1 Cor 15:35-38). The early Christians were anxious and wanted to know the when of this end (2 Ts 2:2; Acts 1:11). But “it is not for you to know the times and the hour that the Father has set with his authority” (Acts 1:7). The only way to contribute to the end “and that God brings about the time of rest” (Acts 3:20), is to witness to the Gospel in every moment and action even to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

b) Our time! God’s time!

“For no one knows the day or the hour: not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mk 13:32; Mt 24:36). God sets the time for the end. God’s time cannot be measured by the clock or calendar. For God, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day (Sl 90:4; Pt 3:8). God’s time runs independently of us. We cannot interfere with that, but we must be prepared for the moment when the hour of God comes into our time. Our security does not lie in knowing the hour of the end of the world, but in the Word of Jesus present in our lives. The world will pass away, but his word will not pass away (cf Is 40:7-8).

c) The context of our text in Luke’s Gospel

For us 21st century people, apocalyptic language seems strange, difficult and confused. But for the people of those times it was the common way of speaking and all understood. It expressed the strong certitude of the faith of the little ones. In spite of all and against all appearances, they continued to believe that God is the Lord of history. The main purpose of apocalyptic language is to foster the faith and hope of the poor. In Luke’s time, many of the people of the communities thought that the end of the world was close at hand and that Jesus would have come back. That is why there were those who stopped working: “Why work, if Jesus was returning?” (cf 2 Ts 3:11). Others stared at heaven, waiting for the return of Jesus on the clouds (cf Acts 1:11). Jesus’ discourse shows that no one knows the hour of the final coming. Today we have the same thing! Some await the coming of Jesus so much that they do not see his presence among us, in our daily concerns and events.

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites, www.ocarm.org.


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:   Saint Bibiana

Feast Day:  December 2
Patron Saint: n/a

Basilica Santa Bibiana, Rome
The earliest mention in an authentic historical authority of Saint Bibiana (Viviana, Vivian, or Vibiana), a Roman Virgin and Martyr, occurs in the "Liber Pontificalis,", where, in the biography of Pope Simplicius (468–483), it is stated that this pope "consecrated a basilica of the holy martyr Bibiana, which contained her body, near the 'palatium Licinianum' " (ed. Duchesne, I, 249). The Basilica of Santa Bibiana still exists.

Basilica Santa Bibiana is a small church in Rome, devoted to St Bibiana. It was initially built by Pope Simplicius, and consecrated in 467. The church was restored by Pope Honorius III in 1224. The present facade was designed and built by then 26 year old Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1624-1626, as commissioned by Pope Urban VIII. The columns lining the nave are from the original 5th century church. The church houses a statue of the titular saint, also by Bernini (1626). It shows St. Bibiana holding the palm leaf of martyrs, standing next to the column to which she was to be martyred. The frescoes on the walls are by Pietro da Cortona (left) and Agostino Ciampelli (right). The bodies of St Bibiana (Viviana or Vibiana), her mother Dafrosa and her sister Demetria where discovered inside a 3rd century sarcophagus, and now rest inside an alabaster urn under the major altar. The column just inside the church is said to be the one Bibiana was strapped to. The church of Santa Bibiana is located in 154 via Giovanni Giolitti in Rome, adjacent to Termini Station and not far from the so-called "Temple of Minerva Medica".


Niche of St Bibiana, Rome
In later times a legend sprang up concerning her, connected with the Acts of the martyrdom of Saints John and Paul and has no historical claim to belief. According to this legend, Bibiana was the daughter of a former prefect, Flavianus, who was banished by Julian the Apostate. Dafrosa, the wife of Flavianus, and his two daughters, Demetria and Bibiana, were also persecuted by Julian. Dafrosa and Demetria died a natural death and were buried by Bibiana in their own house; but Bibiana was tortured and died as a result of her sufferings. Two days after her death a priest named John buried Bibiana near her mother and sister in her home, the house being later turned into a church. It is evident that the legend seeks to explain in this way the origin of the church and the presence in it of the bodies of the above mentioned confessors. The account contained in the martyrologies of the ninth century is drawn from the legend. 

An alternate account says that in the year 363, Emperor Julian made Apronianus Governor of Rome. Bibiana suffered in the persecution started by him. She was the daughter of Christians, Flavian, a Roman knight, and Dafrosa, his wife. Flavian was tortured and sent into exile, where he died of his wounds. Dafrosa was beheaded, and their two daughters, Bibiana and Demetria, were stripped of their possessions and left to suffer poverty. However, they remained in their house, spending their time in fasting and prayer. Apronianus, seeing that hunger and want had no effect upon them, summoned them. Demetria, after confessing her faith, fell dead at the feet of the tyrant. Bibiana was reserved for greater sufferings. She was placed in the hands of a wicked woman called Rufina, who in vain endeavored to seduce her. She used blows as well as persuasion, but the Christian virgin remained faithful. Enraged at the constancy of this saintly virgin, Apronianus ordered her to be tied to a pillar and beaten with scourges, laden with lead plummets, until she expired. The saint endured the torments with joy, and died under the blows inflicted by the hands of the executioner.Her body was then put in the open air to be torn apart by wild animals, yet none would touch it. After two days she was buried.

Mistaken identity

The above mentioned Saint Bibiana (of the 4th century) should not be confused with Saint Vibiana (of the 3rd century), who is the patroness of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.


  • Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Bibiana." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 4 Dec. 2012 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02542b.htm>.

Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


Today's  Snippet  I:  Advent

Advent Preparing for Christ's birth
According to present [1907] usage, Advent is a period beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (30 November) and embracing four Sundays. The first Sunday may be as early as 27 November, and then Advent has twenty-eight days, or as late as 3 December, giving the season only twenty-one days. 

With Advent the ecclesiastical year begins in the Western churches. During this time the faithful are admonished
  • to prepare themselves worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
  • thus to make their souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and
  • thereby to make themselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.


To attain this object the Church has arranged the Liturgy for this season. In the official prayer, the Breviary, she calls upon her ministers, in the Invitatory for Matins, to adore "the Lord the King that is to come", "the Lord already near", "Him Whose glory will be seen on the morrow". As Lessons for the first Nocturn she prescribes chapters from the prophet Isaias, who speaks in scathing terms of the ingratitude of the house of Israel, the chosen children who had forsaken and forgotten their Father; who tells of the Man of Sorrows stricken for the sins of His people; who describes accurately the passion and death of the coming Saviour and His final glory; who announces the gathering of the Gentiles to the Holy Hill. In the second Nocturn the Lessons on three Sundays are taken from the eighth homily of Pope St. Leo (440-461) on fasting and almsdeeds as a preparation for the advent of the Lord, and on one Sunday (the second) from St. Jerome's commentary on Isaiah 11:1, which text he interprets of the Blessed Virgin Mary as "the rod out of the root of Jesse". In the hymns of the season we find praise for the coming of Christ, the Creator of the universe, as Redeemer, combined with prayer to the coming judge of the world to protect us from the enemy. Similar ideas are expressed in the antiphons for the Magnificat on the last seven days before the Vigil of the Nativity. In them, the Church calls on the Divine Wisdom to teach us the way of prudence; on the Key of David to free us from bondage; on the Rising Sun to illuminate us sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, etc. In the Masses the intention of the Church is shown in the choice of the Epistles and Gospels. In the Epistle she exhorts the faithful that, since the Redeemer is nearer, they should cast aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; should walk honestly, as in the day, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ; she shows that the nations are called to praise the name of the Lord; she asks them to rejoice in the nearness of the Lord, so that the price of God, which surpasses all understanding, may keep their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus; she admonishes them not to pass judgment, for the Lord, when He comes, will manifest the secrets hidden in hearts. In the Gospels the Church speaks of the Lord coming in glory; of Him in, and through, Whom the prophecies are being fulfilled; of the Eternal walking in the midst of the Jews; of the voice in the desert, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord". The Church in her Liturgy takes us in spirit back to the time before the incarnation of the Son of God, as though it were really yet to take place. Cardinal Wiseman says:
We are not dryly exhorted to profit by that blessed event, but we are daily made to sigh with the Fathers of old, "Send down the dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One: let the earth be opened, and bud forth the Redeemer." The Collects on three of the four Sundays of that season begin with the words, "Lord, raise up thy power and come" — as though we feared our iniquities would prevent His being born.


Duration and ritual

On every day of Advent the Office and Mass of the Sunday or Feria must be said, or at least a Commemoration must be made of them, no matter what grade of feast occurs. In the Divine Office the Te Deum, the joyful hymn of praise and thanksgiving, is omitted; in the Mass the Gloria in excelsis is not said. The Alleluia, however, is retained. During this time the solemnization of matrimony (Nuptial Mass and Benediction) cannot take place; which prohibition binds to the feast of Epiphany inclusively. The celebrant and sacred ministers use violet vestments. The deacon and subdeacon at Mass, in place of the dalmatics commonly used, wear folded chasubles. The subdeacon removes his during the reading of the Epistle, and the deacon exchanges his for another, or for a wider stole, worn over the left shoulder during the time between the singing of the Gospel and the Communion. An exception is made for the third Sunday (Gaudete Sunday), on which the vestments may be rose-coloured, or richer violet ones; the sacred ministers may on this Sunday wear dalmatics, which may also be used on the Vigil of the Nativity, even if it be the fourth Sunday of Advent. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) states that black was the colour to be used during Advent, but violet had already come into use for this season at the end of the thirteenth century. Binterim says that there was also a law that pictures should be covered during Advent. Flowers and relics of Saints are not to be placed on the altars during the Office and Masses of this time, except on the third Sunday; and the same prohibition and exception exist in regard to the use of the organ. The popular idea that the four weeks of Advent symbolize the four thousand years of darkness in which the world was enveloped before the coming of Christ finds no confirmation in the Liturgy. 

Historical origin

It cannot be determined with any degree of certainty when the celebration of Advent was first introduced into the Church. The preparation for the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was not held before the feast itself existed, and of this we find no evidence before the end of the fourth century, when, according to Duchesne [Christian Worship (London, 1904), 260], it was celebrated throughout the whole Church, by some on 25 December, by others on 6 January. Of such a preparation we read in the Acts of a synod held at Saragossa in 380, whose fourth canon prescribes that from the seventeenth of December to the feast of the Epiphany no one should be permitted to absent himself from church. We have two homilies of St. Maximus, Bishop of Turin (415-466), entitled "In Adventu Domini", but he makes no reference to a special time. The title may be the addition of a copyist. There are some homilies extant, most likely of St. Caesarius, Bishop of Arles (502-542), in which we find mention of a preparation before the birthday of Christ; still, to judge from the context, no general law on the matter seems then to have been in existence. A synod held (581) at Mâcon, in Gaul, by its ninth canon orders that from the eleventh of November to the Nativity the Sacrifice be offered according to the Lenten rite on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the week. The Gelasian Sacramentary notes five Sundays for the season; these five were reduced to four by Pope St. Gregory VII (1073-85). The collection of homilies of St. Gregory the Great (590-604) begins with a sermon for the second Sunday of Advent. In 650 Advent was celebrated in Spain with five Sundays. Several synods had made laws about fasting to be observed during this time, some beginning with the eleventh of November, others the fifteenth, and others as early as the autumnal equinox. Other synods forbade the celebration of matrimony. In the Greek Church we find no documents for the observance of Advent earlier than the eighth century. St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), who speaks of the feasts and fasts commonly celebrated by the Greeks, makes no mention of this season. In the eighth century we find it observed not as a liturgical celebration, but as a time of fast and abstinence, from 15 November to the Nativity, which, according to Goar, was later reduced to seven days. But a council of the Ruthenians (1720) ordered the fast according to the old rule from the fifteenth of November. This is the rule with at least some of the Greeks. Similarly, the Ambrosian and the Mozarabic Riterites have no special liturgy for Advent, but only the fast.


  • Mershman, Francis. "Advent." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 2 Dec. 2012 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01165a.htm>.
  • Miles, Clement A, Christmas customs and traditions, their history and significance, p. 112, ISBN 978-0-486-23354-3.


    Today's  Snippet  IITradition of the Advent Wreath

    The Advent wreath, or Advent crown, is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. The Advent Wreath is traditionally a Lutheran practice, albeit it has spread to many other Christian denominations.[1][2][3] It is usually a horizontal evergreen wreath with four candles and often, a fifth, white candle in the center. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the  lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading and prayers. An additional candle is lit during each subsequent week until, by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. Many Advent wreaths include a fifth, Christ candle which is lit at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.[4] The custom is observed both in family settings and at public church services.


    The ring or wheel of the Advent wreath of evergreens decorated with candles was a symbol in northern Europe long before the arrival of Christianity. The circle symbolized the eternal cycle of the seasons while the evergreens and lighted candles signified the persistence of life in the midst of winter. Some sources suggest the wreath—now reinterpreted as a Christian symbol—was in common use in the Middle Ages, others that it was established in Germany as a Christian custom only in the 16th century.

    Advent Wreath as designed by Wichern
    Other evidence suggests that the Advent wreath was not invented until the 19th century. Research by Prof. Haemig of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, points to Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808–1881), a Protestant pastor in Germany and a pioneer in urban mission work among the poor as the inventor of the modern Advent wreath. During Advent, children at the mission school Rauhes Haus, founded by Wichern in Hamburg, would ask daily if Christmas had arrived. In 1839, he built a large wooden ring (made out of an old cartwheel) with 19 small red and 4 large white candles. A small candle was lit successively every weekday during Advent. On Sundays, a large white candle was lit. The custom gained ground among Protestant churches in Germany and evolved into the smaller wreath with four or five candles known today. Roman Catholics in Germany began to adopt the custom in the 1920s, and in the 1930s it spread to North America.[5] Professor Haemig's research also indicates that the custom did not reach the United States until the 1930s, even among German Lutheran immigrants.
    In Medieval times advent was a fast during which people's thoughts were directed to the expected second coming of Christ; but in modern times it has been seen as the lead up to Christmas, and in that context Advent Wreath serves as a reminder of the approach of the feast. More recently, some Eastern Orthodox families have adopted an Advent wreath with six candles symbolizing the longer Christmas fast in Orthodox tradition, which corresponds to Advent in Western Christianity.[6]

    Forms of the Advent wreath

    Advent wreath with purple and rose candles
    In Catholic churches, the most popular colours for the Advent candles are violet and rose, corresponding with the colors of the liturgical vestments for the Sundays of Advent. In the Western church, Violet is the historic liturgical color for three of the four Sundays of Advent: Violet is the traditional color of penitential seasons. Rose is the color for the Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday from the Latin word meaning "to rejoice"--also from the first line of the traditional entrance prayer (called the Introit) for the Mass of the third Sunday of Advent.[7] Rose-colored vestments are used on Gaudete Sunday, as a pause to the penitential spirit of Advent [8]

    In Protestant churches it is more common to use four red candles (reflecting their traditional use in Christmas decorations) because rose vestments and decorations are not commonly used in Protestant churches. Blue is also a popular alternative color for both Advent vestments and Advent candles, especially in some Anglican and Lutheran churches. This is in keeping with the liturgical seasons; blue means hope and waiting, which aligns with the seasonal meaning of Advent. Other variations of the Advent wreath add a white candle in the center to symbolize Christmas, sometimes known as the "Christ candle." It can be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. White is the traditional festal color in the Western church. Four red candles with one white one is probably the most common arrangement in Protestant churches in Britain.[9]


      1. Peter C. Bower. The Companion to the Book of Common Worship. Office of Theology and Worship, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Retrieved 2010-12-02. "It apparently emanated from the Lutheran tradition, but it has been appropriated by almost all other traditions."
      2. John Trigilio, Kenneth Brighenti. The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions. Sourcebooks. Retrieved 2010-12-02. "Historically, the Advent wreath is a Lutheran custom dating back three hundred years ago."
      3. Carl Seaburg. Celebrating Christmas: An Anthology. Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association. Retrieved 2010-12-02. "The use of an Advent Wreath originated a few hundred years ago among Lutherans in Germany."
      4. Dennis Bratcher. The Season of Advent: Anticipation and Hope. Christian Research Institute. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 2010-12-02. "Finally, the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted at Christmas, and worshippers rejoice over the fact that the hope and promise of long ago have been realized."
      5. "Johann Hinrich Wichern biography (in German)". Medienwerkstatt-online.de. 2008-01-05. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
      6. Orthodoxy Today. 2010-02-02. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
      7. "Catholic Encyclopedia: Advent". Newadvent.org. 1907-03-01. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
      8. "What Color is Lent?". Adoremus.org. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
      9. BBC News, "Christian celebration of Advent" (BBC Mobile, 16 November 2010, accessed December 19, 2010).