The Church enters the new liturgical year this Sunday, December 2, as we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. It is the first liturgical season in the church calendar that lasts until December 24. Advent, which means 'coming' in Latin, comprises the four Sundays preceding Christmas. It is the time of preparation for the coming of the One who is to come - the Emmanuel, God-with-us. During this season, the pervading atmosphere in the Church is that of longing and anticipation for the birth of Jesus. The Gloria is not sung until the Midnight Mass of December 24 when the Church intones the song of the angels when they delivered the Good News to the shepherds.
You will notice that in the church's sanctuary, there is an Advent wreath with four candles. Three of these are purple, which is the color of the season. The other candle is pink, which represents the third Sunday known as the 'Gaudete Sunday'. Gaudete means 'rejoice' because that Sunday is a day of anticipatory celebration, Christmas being only another Sunday away. A candle will be lit each Sunday until all four are all alight at the end of the season - and that signals that everything is ready to welcome the birth of the Lord! Meantime, while we await for his coming, the faithful are invited to prepare not only their homes, but their heart as well through acts of charity and works of mercy. It is also the perfect time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation which effectively cleanses our hearts and expands the space for the Divine Child's coming.