As crazy as it is, the Liturgical year has ended and thus begins a new one. The church was decorated today with purple linen, and the priest wore a rich majestic purple robe instead of the customary green ones of ordinary time. The 4 candles were set up around a giant wreath, ready for the 4 weeks of advent, and the first was already burning.
I think that advent might be one of my favorite times of the year. It is a time of anticipation, not just for the holidays, or winter break, or Christmas. But a time of anticipation in religion. Every year we get to re-celebrate the birth of Jesus, and whether or not it chronologically occurred on this date or not, it's the idea behind it that is important. I love the frigid weather as you pass from your house to a warm car, then from the car through the cold again and into the church.
As soon as we got a little older, we stopped going to mass on Christmas morning, and switched the the Saturday night Vigil mass. It's a lot longer, and goes a lot later, but I always find it more impressionable than that of Sunday morning. The amount of joy that comes into that church is extraordinary, especially for our church at home where I'm rarely used to people singing, or even coming for that matter.
But I'm jumping the gun a bit.
The priest for mass today was a different guy than usual. He said he hadn't said English mass since July -- that's an awful long time, considering it happens every week, maybe every day depending. He did a really good job. The Spanish priests are a little bit different in the way they go about mass, sort of explaining what we are about to do as we do it. They don't take for granted the fact that you know already what to do. Regardless, his homily was what touched me today. While the other guy normally just reads off of a paper, this priest just talked, which is what I am used to. He explained that he didn't know exactly what the significance of each candle was, other than to mark the weeks, but that it was once explained to him like this:
The first candle represented peace. And as we went through the first week, we would find peace in our hearts, given from God. The second represented faith, a faith that would stay strong and not waver. The third candle represented love. The love that God has unconditionally shown us, the love that was given by Jesus to take the blame for all of our sins past and future. The fourth and final candle represented hope. A hope that one day, we will all be able to leave our earthly world behind and join the Father in Heaven. A hope that when the time comes, we will be ready.
I like this explanation a lot; I had never heard it explained like that. And this is why, I pass it on to you, in hopes that you will find it as inspiring as I did. Perhaps we can all take this with us and keep it in our hearts as we progress through the Advent season. It's a time of anticipation for a great celebration -- I'm ready to start that journey.