I am pleased to present this guest post from Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.
The Advent wreath, located on the right side of the sanctuary is a centuries-old Christian tradition.
The wreath itself is rich in symbolism: Evergreens signify undying life; life even amidst the barrenness of winter.
The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning and no end, symbolizes the eternity of God, and everlasting life found in Christ.
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent.
Three candles are violet and one is rose. The violet candles represent the color of the sky before sunrise; a sign of hope and a new beginning.
The rose candle lit on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, signifies the joy that hope and a new beginning bring.
The progressive lighting of the candles expresses light overcoming darkness; the light of Christ conquering whatever is contrary to love, mercy and compassion.
Of course, the wreath is meant to signify what Christ calls us to do: Bring light to wherever there is darkness.
Darkness is not confined to San Bernadino, California or Paris, or to the hearts of those who would wish us or anyone harm.
All kinds of shadows and shades of darkness can be found around us:
- In the home where a child is beaten by hands or by hurtful words;
- In the office where injustices and dishonesty are overlooked in the name of profit;
- In the loveless marriage where partners are deaf to the needs of the one they promised to love and cherish;
- In the residence where the elderly waste away, abandoned by their families;
- On the playing field sidelines where the push to win the game at all costs, crushes a child’s feelings;
- Among friends when an addiction is never addressed;
- In our mouths when we speak criticism without being willing to help in the solution;
- In cyberspace when a 14 year feels as if her reputation has been destroyed;
- In popular culture, when prayer is mocked and faith is labeled as a “weakness of the intellect.”
- In that family, where the gay son has been disowned and told that he does not belong;
- Or, in a parish, when numbers of people and the almighty dollar are more important than fidelity to what Christ taught.
None of us are strangers to shadows. We pass through them every day.
Advent beckons us to bring light to wherever there is darkness, whatever be the shade.
How are you being called to bring “light” to someone, somewhere?
Pray for an increase of light. Pray for the nerve (and for the energy) to be that light.
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