Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 3, 2007
Advent wreath helps prepare for Christ
Creating the evergreen circle, lighting candles opens Christians' hearts
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"I feel that sense of waiting and hope; that we are waiting and preparing our hearts."
"The colour purple is a symbol of penance and traditionally in the Church Advent is the time to do penance and prepare our hearts for Christmas," MacIsaac explained. "The rose one is a symbol that the Lord is always near, but I've also heard it described as the candle of joy."
The lighting of the candles becomes an important symbol of the season, reminding us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life and hope, she said. "Whenever we bring out our Advent wreath, I feel that sense of waiting and hope; that we are waiting and preparing our hearts," she said. "I really don't like the dark and so I find hope in the light."
On Christmas Eve the wreath will have a white candle in the centre - the Christmas candle.
Typically, the Advent wreath is lit before dinner and after the blessing of the food. During the first week of Advent, one candle is lit and prayers offered. Each succeeding week one candle is added to the ritual, with the pink candle lit for the first time on the third Sunday of Advent. Prayers are said during each ceremony.
"In my family we use the Christmas story broken up into little bits, little pieces of Scripture each day. We have the same song that we sing everyday - a chant."
With older children, the Advent readings of the day can be used, she said.
Advent wreaths can be simple or elaborate, made from fresh material or from artificial greenery. The green in the wreath symbolizes the new life brought by the birth of Jesus, and its circular shape is a reminder of eternity, she said.
Celebrating Advent has changed some of the MacIsaacs' Christmas traditions as well. For example, she and her husband Dan chose this year to give money to charity rather than give gifts to each other.
"We try to keep focused on the fact that Christmas is the birth of Jesus; that Christmas is to celebrate God's coming into our world."
MacIsaac once attended a retreat that taught her to spread out her traditions.
"Don't put all your joy in that one day," she said. "Make other traditions that are part of the whole season special so that there isn't that big emotional pressure on the one day of Christmas."
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