Pastor's Corner

2021 12-19   Rise Above the Distractions with the Advent Wreath this Season

Written by: Father Neil Herlihy

During Advent, many of us can get caught up in the “busyness” of the season.  With all the distractions of the season, it is very possible to lose our spiritual focus.  The media does much to commercialize the season.  Many weeks before Thanksgiving Day, various media outlets begin to overwhelm us with various “holiday” advertisements and promotions.  They do so without even mentioning the word “Christmas”.  In addition, during these difficult and uncertain times due primarily to the sustained impact of the COVID-19 virus, we are still busy going shopping; we are still busy going to parties; we are still busy making plans.  But in the midst of the commercialization, in the midst of all the “busyness”, are we really preparing spiritually for the coming of the Christ Child?

One way to counter these distractions is to focus on the significance of the Advent Wreath.  Integral to the season of Advent is the Advent Wreath which has a long Catholic tradition.  The Wreath is displayed prominently on our altar.   As previously noted, it typically has four candles that are lit progressively during the Sundays of Advent. There is also a fifth candle that is reserved for the Christmas season.

  • The first candle is the Prophecy Candle or the Candle of Hope. It reminds us that we can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us.
  • The second candle is the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation. We remember the words of the Prophet Isaiah who said, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him.”
  • The third candle is the Shepherd Candle or the Candle of Joy. We reflect on how we joyfully anticipate the coming of the Christ Child.
  • The fourth candle is the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. We reflect on how the angels announce the coming of the Savior, sent by God because He loves us.
  • The fifth candle is the Christ Candle. It reminds us that Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God sent to wash away our sins.

Reflecting on the significance of these candles can also assist us in focusing on the Lord and, in the process, we can rise above the distractions of the season.  The candles can help us desire to see the light of Christ shine through the darkness of our lives.  They remind us that we, like John the Baptist, like the voice crying in the wilderness, are to prepare the way of the Lord.  We are challenged to remain awake, to remain watchful, to remain alert, and to remain vigilant.

My brothers and sisters in Christ:  Christmas is quickly approaching.  Hopefully, we will truly get our spiritual priorities in order so that our hearts will be ready to receive Our Lord, Our Savior, Our King of Kings.


2021, 12-25 and 12-16 The Nativity of the Lord and the Feast of the Holy Family
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