Advent, Pope Francis said, is a time given to us "to welcome the Lord who comes to meet us, to verify our desire for God, to look ahead and prepare ourselves for the return of Christ." Beginning the Catholic Church's liturgical year, Advent is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of Christ’s first coming or birth on Christmas. Therefore, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.
Advent begins with Evening Prayer I of the First Sunday of Advent and it ends before Evening Prayer I of Christmas. The Sundays of Advent are named the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Sundays of Advent. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for Christmas.
The liturgical color for Advent is purple. It is a sign of penance in the sense of preparing, quieting and disciplining our hearts for the full joy of Christmas. The third Sunday of Advent is called "Gaudete" Sunday (meaning “Rejoice” and taking from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon) and the liturgical color may be rose instead of purple. This is the Church's way of heightening our expectation as we draw nearer to Christmas.
Advent devotions including the advent wreath and praying the Angelus and Lectio Divina for the weeks of Advent remind us of the meaning of the season. This Advent calendar will help you fully enter in to the Advent season with daily activities and prayer suggestions to prepare you spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ. More Advent resources can be found on the USCCB website.