Church kicks off Advent observance
Catholics in Cebu and the rest of the world today welcome the season of Advent, the start of another liturgical year.
Advent, a Latin word meaning adventus or “coming,” has a two-fold character, said Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesperson of the Cebu Archdiocese.
“It is a time to prepare for Christmas when Christ’s first coming is remembered, and to anticipate Jesus’ second coming as judge and lord of the living and the dead,” he said.
Tan called on the people to deepen their spirituality and not to be swayed by the external preparations for Christmas.
“Let us not neglect Advent. It is supposedly a time for us to prepare ourselves in a semi-penitential manner as well as to examine our conscience and to receive the sacraments,” he said.
Tan said Advent is also the time to reach out to the poor and the less fortunate members of society.
“Let us experience the coming of Christ, not just through the sacraments, but also in our actual experience with others because Christ is present in each one of us, especially the least of our brethren,” Tan said.
In the Philippines, the new liturgical year is dedicated for the clergy and consecrated persons.
Tan said the year is aimed at helping the clergy to become more “renewed servant-leaders for the new evangelization.”
In 2013, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines launched a nine-year “spiritual journey towards the 500th Jubilee of Christianization of the Philippines in 2021 with different themes for each year.
Tan said the new liturgical year is not solely for ordained priests. Whether an ordained priest or not, Tan said everyone is called to holiness, and to live a life of grace with God.
“I call on everyone to discover the soul of our nation so we can address the necessary issues that confront us everyday, from finances, poverty, family, to vices, particularly drug abuse,” he said.
Tan said the Advent season should help improve one’s spirituality or relationship with God. In churches and homes today, the first Advent candle is lighted.
The tradition of putting up Advent wreaths with four candles has a special meaning.
The circular shape of the Advent wreath represents the eternal God, who neither has a beginning nor an end. The color green stands for hope.
Four candles on the wreath—three purple and one rose or pink—are lighted every Sunday of the season in churches as well as at home.
The candles symbolize the four weeks of Advent, which symbolize 4,000 years from the time of Adam and Eve to the birth of Jesus Christ. Purple, the season’s color, symbolizes penance.
The rose-colored candle is lighted on the third Sunday of Advent also known as “Gaudete” or joyful Sunday. The rose color is a symbol of joy. Advent ends on the sunset of Dec. 24.
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