We are now mid-way through the first week of advent. It always seems like advent flies by because we are so busy in preparation for Christmas. If you are a young child, I'm sure you'll disagree with me, but for those of us adults I think most would agree that this is a time that goes by fast. Advent is all about the preparation for Christmas. Sometimes we can become so busy that we watch this time of Advent pass us by without knowing what we missed. In order for us to truly appreciate Christmas, we must prepare ourselves for Christmas and we do that in a number of different ways.
An easy an popular way to prepare for Christmas during advent is to light the advent candles. During each meal we light the candles as a reminder that God is the light of the world and he is present with us today. Each week of advent symbolizes a new focus. During the first week of advent we focus on hope. The lighting of the first candle symbolizes the HOPE that Jesus is coming. During the second week of advent we focus on faith. The lighting of the second candle symbolizes the FAITH of Mary and Joseph. We recall when the Angel came down from heaven to bring Mary the good news. You can imagine the courage of Mary to accept God's will. The third week of advent we focus on joy. We are symbolizing the JOY of Jesus' birth. Only at the resurrection do we experience a similar level of joy. The fourth and final candle symbolizes peace. This symbolizes the message of PEACE that Jesus brings and the angels proclaim. Each day and each week of advent we should take time to reflect on the journey of Jesus, who became man so that we might be saved. During lent we give something up as a sacrifice, but during advent we should also give something up as a sacrifice. Maybe we don't give up material goods, but maybe we give up some of our free time to spend in prayer and reflection. During advent we are hopeful, we are faithful, we are joyful, and we are peaceful. An advent of prayer, repentance and reflection will create for us a most joyous Christmas!