Advent is a time of hope and prayer. On my first year living advent as a married person, me and my wife decided to continue on the tradition of the Advent Wreath, so every meal we light it and pray in preparation for Christmas.
For the meaning of the Advent Wreath I borrow the explanation of my friend on Isntagram the CatholicBarber:
What is the meaning of the Advent Wreath? Since circles have no beginning and no end, the circular shape of the Advent Wreath is used to symbolize God the Father and eternal life. The wreath holds four candles which are lit over the four weeks of Advent. There are three violet (purple) candles and one rose candle, each representing 1,000 years. Added together, the four candles symbolize the 4,000 years that humanity waited for the Savior. Violet is a liturgical color that is used to signify a time of penance, sacrifice, and prayer. During the first two and the last weeks of Advent we light violet candles.The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. On this day we celebrate that our waiting for Christmas is almost over. Rose is a liturgical color that is used to signify joy, so we light the rose candle on the third Sunday of Advent. Traditionally, each of the four candles on an Advent wreath has their own meaning. These meanings are simply illustrated in The Four Weeks of Advent Pewter Advent Wreath. The first Sunday of Advent symbolizes Hope with the Prophet’s Candle reminding us that Jesus is coming. The second Sunday of Advent symbolizes Faith with the Bethlehem Candle reminding us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. The third Sunday of Advent symbolizes Joy with the Shepherd’s Candle reminding us of the Joy the world experienced at the coming birth of Jesus. The fourth Sunday symbolizes Peace with the Angel’s Candle reminding us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.” When Advent Wreaths are decorated the materials often have symbolic meaning. The use of evergreens reminds us of our eternal life with Christ, holly represents the crown of thorns from the Passion of Jesus, and pine cones symbolize Christ’s Resurrection. I hope you now know what the meaning of the Advent Candles represent. (his photo and explanation)
Let’s wait in joyful hope the coming of our Savior.
There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other. (Saint Peter Chrysologus)
The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent. (Code of Canon Law 1250)
What is Fast?
“Properly speaking fasting consists in abstaining from food, but speaking metaphorically it denotes abstinence from anything harmful, and such especially is sin.” (IIa IIae, Q147, a.2 ad.1)
Why do we Fast?
According to Saint Thomas Aquinas for three reasons: ” First, in order to bridle the lusts of the flesh, wherefore the Apostle says (2 Cor. 6:5, 6): “In fasting, in chastity,” since fasting is the guardian of chastity(…) Secondly, we have recourse to fasting in order that the mind may arise more freely to the contemplation of heavenly things (…) Thirdly, in order to satisfy for sins: wherefore it is written (Joel 2:12): “Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning.””(IIa IIae, Q147, a.1)
Extracts of the Apostolic constitution Paenitemini (February 17, 1966)
“Abstinence is to be observed on every Friday which does not fall on a day of obligation, while abstinence and fast is to be observed on Ash Wednesday.” (Chapter III, II, 2)
“The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat. The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing—as far as quantity and quality are concerned—approved local custom.” (Chapter III, III, 1-2)
A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine. (Code of Canon Law 919)
Fasting in the Old Testament:
in the aftermath of sin to placate the wrath of God
1 Sam. 7:6;
1 Kings 21:20-21, 27;
Jer. 3:3, 7, 9;
John 1:2; 3:4-5
on the occasion of grave calamities
1 Sam. 31:13;
2 Sam. 1:12; 3:35;
Baruch 1:2, 5;
when special dangers are imminent
Judith 4:8, 12; 8:10-16;
Esther 3:15; 4:1, 16;
2 Chron. 20:3
in any case to obtain benefits from the Lord
1 Sam. 14:24;
2 Sam. 12:16, 22;
external penitential practices are accompanied by an inner attitude of “conversion,”
1 Sam. 7:3;
Judith 8:16- 17;
Zach. 8:9, 21.
On the early days the church celebrated only Easter, and the whole liturgical year was time to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. As the time passed the church felt the urge to have a special time to celebrate this happening that changed the course of history. It was on the council of Nicaea (325) that the Catholic church established a date for Easter. And it wasn’t a fix date. As the Jewish calender was lunar and the resurrection of the Lord happened on a passover, we should celebrate it on a similar basis. It is now that Lent appears for two main reasons on pratical as the date moves, it was a way to prepare the faithful to the Holy celebrations, but this wasn’t the main reason. The Church saw it as a great opportunity to prepare the newly converted to baptism, and a very good way to start anew, renewing the promises of the Baptism. So this time of 40 days begun to be lived on the very beginning of the history of the Catholic faith as a mirror of the 40 days that the lord spent in the desert.
Saint Thomas Aquinas says about the temptations of the Lord:
“Christ wished to be tempted; first that He might strengthen us against temptations. Hence Gregory says in a homily (xvi in Evang.): “It was not unworthy of our Redeemer to wish to be tempted, who came also to be slain; in order that by His temptations He might conquer our temptations, just as by His death He overcame our death.”
Secondly, that we might be warned, so that none, however holy, may think himself safe or free from temptation. Wherefore also He wished to be tempted after His baptism, because, as Hilary says (Super Matth., cap. iii.): “The temptations of the devil assail those principally who are sanctified, for he desires, above all, to overcome the holy. Hence also it is written (Ecclus. 2): Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation.”
Thirdly, in order to give us an example: to teach us, to wit, how to overcome the temptations of the devil. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. iv) that Christ “allowed Himself to be tempted” by the devil, “that He might be our Mediator in overcoming temptations, not only by helping us, but also by giving us an example.”
Fourthly, in order to fill us with confidence in His mercy. Hence it is written (Heb. 4:15): “We have not a high-priest, who cannot have compassion on our infirmities, but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.” (Ia IIIae Q41 a1)
Now lest get to the number fourty. After the text you can see a list of references to the number and I don’t want to meditate about every one of them here. But it is good to notice tha it is romaly related to penitence, to a path of becoming a better follower of God. The main reason is the time that the Lord spent in the desert. But this is also the number of years that the people of God was in the desert before entering the promised Land. And the days of penance annouced by the prophet Jonah. Periods of purification, times to review the way the people were living and change the direction back to God. I cherish the story of the prophet Elijah, he had had a great victory aganist the false prophets just before, now he is in the desert wishing death… after forty days fed by heavenly food (impossible not to think about Eucharisty) he goes up to the mountain of God to discover that God hides in the tiny wispering sound… I invite you to read the chapters 18 and 19 from the first book of Kings and meditate about what is realy success and what is failure in a Faithful’s life.
40 days – Jesus as on the desert to be tempted.
40 years – The people of God in the desert
40 days – Deluge
40 days to the destruction of Nineveh
40 days the spies were in the promised land (Nb 13:24)
40 days Moses was in the mount and received the law of God, (Ex 24:18)
40 days Moses was in the mount after the sin of the Golden Calf, (Dt 9:18,25)
40 days of Elijah in Horeb, (1Kings 19:8)
40 Days Jesus was seen before ascension
And Love once again prevails. He walks toward his destination, renews his arrival and reaffirms its permanence. And Love once again happens. He fulfills his mission, reaching who was far, nearing who was close by. And Love once again confuses. He puts the world upside down in his madness to go insane until the end. And Love once again reveals his name, his address, His way of love. And Love once again dies to give life, to heal the wound and proclaim victory over the pain. And Love once again shocks, shocks with the courage of not giving up, of trying once more and another time again. And Love once again rises, renews our hope and encourages us in the struggle of every day. It is the extraordinary Mystery allowing the experience of the ordinary. And Love once again restores, opens a new path and certifies our faith as true. And Love once again enters, reinvents, suffice, and faces the indifference of what was once lost. And Love once again defies understanding and thought, going beyond the limits of reason. The path has already been made, the doors have been opened, Love has been done and did it once again, so you are all welcome to the Holy Week of Love …
This is another translation from Denise Landim’s blog once more she said exactly what I was feeling, I ended it with tears in my eyes…
I do not know where you are now, but I want this letter to be a prayer to God for you.
You did not know me nor I knew you beyond, of course, of what I saw appear in newspapers, magazines and photos about your life. Lies and truths of a story full of speculation; overexposure of an intimacy devastated. However, I know that your life touched the lives of many, in other hand, for me, your death touched me deeply.
But I’m not here to judge you, to throw rocks on your “falls” or to play guess the day of your death, as many did. I’m no better than you at all. Also I am not here to investigate your death or trying to figure out how it happened, many others have it upon themselves to do this.
I’m here to apologize, because you passed away without knowing that while you sang “No, no, no ..”, God said “Yes, yes, yes ..” ‘ to the decision to love you until the last consequences. While you believed you were not good, Someone saw the best you had to offer. While you were throwing yourself in the pit, He waited for an opportunity to hold you. God ran against time, but He stopped on your freedom. And even if you made the decision to sink, freely, yet I need to apologize, because perhaps no one has told you that there was a much better life with Him and a much better song than the one that your life sang.
We were the same age, but I had an opportunity that you did not, even if you have had the opportunity to be much more famous and infinitely richer than me. I had the chance to meet the love of God, did not need drugs to fill my emptiness, this is our only difference, I had the opportunity and grabbed it.
Far from the bad taste jokes and relentless speculation, I join the suffering of God’s heart and the heart those who truly loved you. I ask God to make you hear, wherever you are, the song of His love for you.
The music of God’s love will never stop playing, even if one day your music, Amy, stop selling. The music of God’s love will never stop playing, even if no one sings, no one hears, it will never cease.
And I ask God for the grace to sing it stronger with my life so that others like you can hear it in time …