Advent is a time to prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of Christmas. As a way of preparation, use of wreath and four candles is a tradition in the Catholic Church. It was originally adopted by the Christians in the Middle Ages as part of their spiritual preparation for Christmas. The Wreath and the four candles are full of symbolism.
The Wreath is made of green pine branches signifying life. The circle of the wreath is the symbol of no beginning and no end; in other words, a symbol of the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul and the everlasting life we find in Jesus Christ. There are three purple candles which indicate a time of prayer, penance and sacrifice. However, the individual candle symbolizes the virtue we are invited to reflect on.
The first purple candle denotes hope, representing our expectation for the coming of the redeemer. It is also called “Prophecy candle”, which reminds us of the prophets, especially the prophet Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. The second purple candle indicates faith. It is also called “Bethlehem candle” reminding us of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.
The third candle is pink, which symbolizes joy. It is also called “Shepherd’s candle”. It is pink, because it is the liturgical color for joy. The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday, reminding us of the joy awaiting us at the birth of Jesus.
The fourth candle is again purple, which signifies peace. It is also called “Angel’s candle”, that reminds us of the message of the angels: ”Peace on earth to people of good will”.
As we light the candle each week, let us recall the virtue/s we are invited to concentrate on in preparation for the great feast of Christmas.
May the Spirit of God guide us to spend the Advent season meaningfully.
Fr. Arul Joseph V.