Advent is the four week period before Christmas when the Church celebrates the first coming of Christ and anticipates His second coming. The word “advent” comes from the Latin adventus (Greek parousia), which means “coming” or “arrival.” Advent itself is not part of the Christmas season itself, but a preparation for it. This is why we do not sing Christmas hymns or use Christmas readings in Mass until December 25th, the first day of the Christmas season.
Advent is a time of spiritual preparation. Many during the Advent Season focus on the external preparation: decorating homes, visiting friends and relatives, going to parties, purchasing gifts and more, all of which is appropriate, but not the main focus. Advent provides us all with an opportunity to continually re-orient ourselves to God’s will as we, together with the entire Church, expectantly wait for the true meaning of Christmas, the incarnation of God the Son. The spirit of Advent should help to arouse in each one of us, an intimate and personal expectation of the renewed coming of Christ in our soul. This “coming” is accomplished through grace and the more it matures in us, the more copious it becomes, penetrating us until it transforms the soul into an alter Christus.
The season of Advent is focussed on the coming of Jesus as the Messiah. Our worship, scripture readings and prayers not only prepare us spiritually for Christ’s first coming (Christmas), but also His second. This is why the scripture readings during Advent include both Old Testament passages related to the Messiah and the New Testament passages concerning Jesus’ second coming.
The Liturgical color of Advent is violet, except for the Third Week of Advent (Guadete Sunday) in which rose is the color used as a reminder that we are called to rejoice. The Season is somewhat penitential, similar to Lent as worship during Advent is more solemn, quiet and less festive than other times of the year. The Church discourages excessive ornamentation, boisterous music and even weddings during Advent, in order to foster a sense of quiet hope.