On the first day
of Advent, Catholic families will set up Advent wreath -- a wreath of greenery
adorned by a set of four candles -- typically, three violet-colored, and
one rose-colored to match the priest's vestments on each of the days the
candles are lit. The wreath is either set upon a table (especially the dining
room table), on the family altar, on pedestals, an end table, etc., or it
can by suspended by ribbons from the ceiling, such as from a light fixture.
The candles can be long, slim tapers, small votives, or fat pillars. There
can be pinecones and such adorning the greenery, but because Advent is a
penitential season, it shouldn't be highly decorated with colorful ornaments.
The circular shape of the wreath is a symbol of eternity, and the greenery
symbolizes hope and renewal. The colors of the typically-used violet and
rose candles symbolize penance and joy, respectively.
Each candle also represents one of the four weeks of Advent, and one thousand
years of the four thousand years that (at least metaphorically) passed between
Adam and Eve to Christ's coming.
The first candle also recalls the Patriarchs; the second candle recalls the
Prophets; the third candle recalls St. John the Baptist; and the final candle
recalls Our Lady.
If colored candles are used, the violet candles are lit on the first, second,
and fourth Sundays of Advent, and the rose candle is lit on the third Sunday
("Gaudete Sunday," when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass), a
day of rejoicing because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent
and anticipate Christmas. In any case, whether colored or white candles are
used, one more candle is lit each week at dinnertime, the progressive lighting
of the candles symbolizing the expectation and hope surrounding our Lords
first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to
judge the living and the dead. The candles are kept burning throughout the
Sunday supper, and then are immediately blown out afterward (candles can
be replaced and greenery freshened as needed).
At midnight on Christmas Eve, the Advent wreath is replaced by a white "Christ
candle" that is suitably adorned with holly, or by being carved with symbols
of Christ, etc. This Christ Candle is used until the Ephiphany or Candlemas,
depending on the family's particular Christmas customs. The greenery of the
Advent wreath can now be decorated and turned into a Christmas wreath for
use throughout the Christmas season.
Below are prayers for the blessing of the wreath and the lighting of the
candles each week. To download a Microsoft Word .doc of the following Advent
Scripture and Blessings, click here.
Advent Wreath Rituals
The Day Before
Blessing of the Wreath
Father: O God,
by whose word all things are sanctified, pour forth Thy blessing upon this
wreath, and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming
of Christ and may receive from Thee abundant graces. Through Christ our Lord.
As Mother lights the 1st candle
1:1-5; Psalm 49:2-5, 71:2-8, 8-15):
Father: In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the
Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made
by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life:
and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness: and
the darkness did not comprehend it.
Out of Sion the loveliness of his beauty. God shall come manifestly: our
God shall come, and shall not keep silence. A fire shall burn before him:
and a mighty tempest shall be round about him. He shall call heaven from
above, and the earth, to judge his people. Gather ye together his saints
to him: who set his covenant before sacrifices.
Give to the king thy judgment, O God: and to the king's son thy justice:
To judge thy people with justice, and thy poor with judgment. Let the mountains
receive peace for the people: and the hills justice. He shall judge the poor
of the people, and he shall save the children of the poor: and he shall humble
the oppressor. And he shall continue with the sun, and before the moon,
throughout all generations. He shall come down like rain upon the fleece;
and as showers falling gently upon the earth. In his days shall justice spring
up, and abundance of peace, till the moon be taken sway. And all kings of
the earth shall adore him: all nations shall serve him. For he shall deliver
the poor from the mighty: and the needy that had no helper. He shall spare
the poor and needy: and he shall save the souls of the poor. He shall redeem
their souls from usuries and iniquity: and their names shall be honourable
in his sight. And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of
Arabia, for him they shall always adore: they shall bless him all the day.
Father: Stir up Thy power, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come: that from the
threatening dangers of our sins we may deserve to be rescued by Thy protection,
and to be saved by Thy deliverance. Who livest and reignest, with God the
Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.
Father: Alleluia, alleluia. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam, et
salutare tuum da nobis. Amen. (Alleluia, alleluia. Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy;
and grant us Thy salvation. Alleluia.)
As Mother lights the 1st and 2nd candles in order
Father: And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a
flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest
upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel,
and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall
be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according
to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for
the meek of the earth: land he shall strike the earth with the rod of his
mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. And justice
shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins. The
wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid:
the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child
shall lead them. The calf and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall
rest together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking
child shall play on the hole of the asp: and the weaned child shall thrust
his hand into the den of the basilisk. They shall not hurt, nor shall they
kill in all my holy mountain, for the earth is filled with the knowledge
of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea. In that day the root of Jesse,
who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech,
and his sepulchre shall be glorious.
Father: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way of Thine only-begotten
Son: that through His coming we mat attain to serve Thee with purified minds.
Who liveth and reigneth, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
world without end.
Father: Alleluia, alleluia. Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi: in
domum Domini ibimus. Alleluia. (Alleluia, alleluia. I rejoiced at the things
that were said to me: We shall go unto the house of the Lord. Alleluia.)
As Mother lights the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd candles in order
9:2, 6-7, 40:3-5, 52:7, 7:14-15):
The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that
dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.
For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is
upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God
the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. His empire
shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon
the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen
it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal
of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make
straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. Every valley shall be exalted,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become
straight, and the rough ways plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh together shall see, that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings,
and that preacheth peace: of him that sheweth forth good, that preacheth
salvation, that saith to Sion: Thy God shall reign!
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive,
and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter
and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good.
Father: Incline Thine ear, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to our petitions: and,
by the grace of Thy visitation, enlighten the darkness of our minds. Who
livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
world without end.
Father: Alleluia, alleluia. Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni ut salvos
facias nos. Alleluia. (Alleluia, alleluia. Stir up, O Lord, Thy might, and
come to save us. Alleluia.)
As Mother lights all the candles in order
1:24-33, 2:1-6; Apocalypse 22:20):
And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of
Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph,
of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being
come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed
art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought
with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said
to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt
conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his
name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High;
and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and
he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall
be no end.
And it came to pass that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar
Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first
made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every
one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city
of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem:
because he was of the house and family of David. To be enrolled with Mary
his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass that when they
were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
He that giveth testimony of these things, saith, Surely I come quickly: Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Father: O Lord, we beseech Thee, stir up Thy power, and come, and with great
might succor us: that by the help of Thy grace that which is hindered by
our sins may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness: Who livest and reignest,
with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.
Father: Alleluia, alleluia. Veni, Domine, et noli tardare: relaxa facinora
plebis tuae Israel. Alleluia. (Alleluia, alleluia. Come, O Lord, and tarry
not: forgive the sins of Thy people Israel. Alleluia.)