Dear Epiphany Families,
For the next four Sundays beginning December 1, we will light the advent wreath at Mass. Have you ever thought about what it symbolizes? The advent wreath itself has pagan beginnings, but it was adapted by Catholics and Lutherans by 1600. The traditional wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. The evergreens themselves signify victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. The wreath is a circle, having no beginning or end, symbolizing the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and our everlasting life with Jesus. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection.
The four candles represent the four weeks of advent with three purple candles and one rose candle. The purple candles symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works as the faithful prepare for Christmas. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, which is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of advent. The progressive lighting of the candles characterizes the anticipation and hope surrounding our Lord's birth and the expectation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead. This beautiful tradition helps us to remain vigilant and not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.