A message from The Worship Commission
November 27, 2016
Happy New Year!
The Liturgical New Year, that is! November 27th, is the first Sunday in our Liturgical Calendar. The Liturgical calendar begins on the first day of the Advent season, and it ends on the last Sunday in ordinary time, known as the feast of Christ the King.
Advent has been acknowledged as the beginning of the liturgical calendar since, the 900ís. Prior to that, as of the 4th century, Christmas was the beginning of the church year. Over time, Advent evolved as both a time of penance and as we know it today, a time of preparation. It begins on the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. In previous times, it began on November 11th on the feast of St Martin and was known as St. Martinís Lent.
Originally, Advent was seen as a Lenten period and was celebrated for 6 weeks. It was a time in northern Europe for those who were to join the church, to prepare themselves through penance for Baptism, as in northern Europe, they baptized on the feast of the Epiphany. During the reign of Pepin and Charlemagne in the 8th century, the liturgical calendar of Rome was confirmed as the primary calendar for all of Christianity and baptisms were celebrated on Holy Saturday as in Rome. Advent was then shortened to 4 weeks, and it began to include the more joyful preparatory theme celebrated in Rome.
We now celebrate it as preparing our souls and hearts for the coming of Christ. We look back and commemorate his birth, and we look forward to his second coming. We also prepare ourselves for his present coming into our hearts and souls. Like Lent, we do this with prayer, alms giving, and penance. We do this with joy and expectation! Christ has come, is coming and will come again! Traditions for Advent include using the color violet or purple in decoration. Originally, a dark blue was used in northern Europe, due to available cloth dies, but over the years the red-violet, of southern Europe became the standard color. Also, the color rose is used on the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, to celebrate that we are even closer to Christís coming. Advent wreaths, using candles to anticipate the light of Christ coming to earth, are a popular tradition. The light of Christ pushes out the darkness of despair in our lives. Jesse Trees celebrate Jesusí lineage from Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Jesse, David, Solomon, Joseph and Mary. Advent Calendars are also a way of celebrating. They count the days down to Christmas with bible verses and at times, little gifts for children.
All are ways of celebrating our New Year! Step out of the silver and gold of the commercial celebrations and put on the purple! Use the time of Advent to prepare your hearts and souls for Christís coming!
Written by Ellen Walker, member of the MQH Worship Commission