By Justin Caccavo ’20
After a much needed four day weekend for Thanksgiving break, Chaminade students have begun the observance of Advent, the liturgical season that prepares us for the coming of Christ. Although it is not known when exactly Advent first came about, Advent is referenced as early as 480 AD. Advent originated as a period of fasting beginning on November 11–the Feast Day of St. Martin of Tours—and is often referred to as “St. Martin’s Lent.” The word “advent” comes from a Latin word meaning “coming,” because, during Advent, the Church awaits and prepares for the celebration of the coming of Jesus in the flesh (December 25) and the Second Coming of Christ. During this joyful yet solemn time of waiting, Catholics light one candle each Sunday at mass for four consecutive Sundays. The first, second, and fourth candles are purple, representing penitence, and the third candle is pink, representing joy. We light the pink candle on the third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete (which means “rejoice” in Latin) Sunday. The reason that we light these candles is to represent light prevailing against the darkness. Christ was born on Christmas and banished all darkness—allowing us to rise out of our sin.
Besides lighting Advent candles and hanging wreaths, there are many other traditions that Catholics take part in to commemorate the coming of Christ. For example, some families read from one of the 24 chapters of Luke’s Gospel or pray Saint Andrew’s Christmas Novena, which starts on November 30, the feast day of Saint Andrew. Regardless of how Catholics celebrate Advent, all should make an effort to prepare themselves spiritually for the celebration of Christmas and His Second Coming; it is written in the Gospel, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)
The Chaminade community celebrates Advent in a plethora of different ways too. Students decorate the school chapel in pink and purple, and an advent wreath rests near the tabernacle. During the morning announcements every Monday throughout December, Father Garrett Long S.M ’62 or Father Peter Heiskell S.M ’86 will light the Advent candles and read a passage from the book of Isaiah that foretell the coming of the Messiah. The book of Isaiah includes a multitude of messianic prophecies that can help us appreciate Jesus’ fulfilling of the Old Testament. Additionally, every classroom contains an ornamented Christmas tree as well as festive decorations. On the first Monday back from Thanksgiving break, students decorated their homeroom with their classmates and listened to Christmas music playing on the morning announcements. Whether in the halls of Chaminade or homes of Catholics around the world, Advent is a time of both penitent reflection and joyful celebration in which we all can grow closer to God.