Advent is all about making ourselves ready to celebrate the moment in which God became one of us in the form of an infant born 2000 years ago. Derived from the Latin word adventus, we literally prepare for the “coming” of Christ this season. We are endlessly reminded to prepare commercially for the holiday–what to buy etc–but what are we doing to prepare spiritually?
This Advent–with the help of young Carmelite brothers in formation Manu Franco, Kevin Keller and Neil Conlisk–we are offering our online community the opportunity to reflect on the Advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love through the wisdom of Blessed Titus Brandsma (1881-1942), Dutch Carmelite, educator, journalist and modern mystic, whose 75th anniversary of martyrdom at Dachau on July 26th, 2017 we continue to celebrate. Brandsma’s life demonstrated an intimate relationship between mysticism and a firm commitment in the world to the dignity of the human person. Labeled “that dangerous little friar” by his enemies, the wisdom of this preacher, mystic, professor, journalist and Carmelite will be a good spiritual companion each week for us this Advent.
We invite you to use this Sunday reflection during the beginning half of your week and the subsequent Titus reflection in the middle of each week for the latter half. If you don’t have an Advent wreath to light this season, we’ve provided that through brief candle-lighting videos. We encourage you to share your reflections with the community by using #CarmelAdvent or the hashtags for specific weeks–#CarmelHope, #TitusAdvent etc. You can use the hashtags on any of our online media platforms (Carmelites.net, Facebook, Twitter etc). We will periodically compile the best reflections and share them with the community.
We begin with a prayer for the lighting of the first candle of the Advent wreath.
A Rite for the Beginning of Advent
Traditionally, the wreath is made of four candles in a circle of evergreens. Three candles are violet and the fourth is rose. Each day at home, the candles are lighted, perhaps before the evening meal – one candle the first week, and then another each succeeding week until December 25th. A fifth candle, which is white and called the Christ candle, may be placed in the center of the Advent Wreath and lit on Christmas Eve.
A short prayer may accompany the lighting.
Gather around the Advent Wreath
For each of the four Sundays of Advent the new Advent Candle, beginning with the First Sunday of Advent on December 2/3 will be lit.
LEADER: As our nights grow longer and our days grow short,
we look on these earthly signs – light and green branches -
and remember God’s promise to our world:
Christ, our Light and our Hope, will come.
Listen to the words of Isaiah the prophet:
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a land as dark as death a light has dawned. You have increased their joy and given them gladness; They rejoice in your presence as those who rejoice at harvest, as warriors exult when dividing spoil. Is. 9:1-2
This prayer may be said every time the candles are lit. The following antiphon is prayed as a response.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
LEADER: O God, rejoicing, we remember the promise of your Son. As the light from this candle, may the blessing of Christ come upon us, brightening our way and guiding us by his truth. May Christ our Savior bring life into the darkness of our world, and to us, as we wait for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
FIRST WEEK: The Prophets’ Candle – The Candle of HOPE
The first candle is sometimes called the candle of prophecy because it symbolizes the promises the prophets delivered as messages from God; promises that foretold Christ’s birth. Others consider the candle to be a symbol of the hope we have in Christ and so it is called the Hope candle.
Then the first candle is lit. If you don’t have a candle, we invite you to use the candle-lighting video here:
SHARE WITH OUR ONLINE COMMUNITY:
What does “Advent Hope” mean to you? Share your reflections with the community by using #CarmelAdvent or the #CarmelPrays, #CarmelHope. You can use the hashtags on any of our online media platforms (comment below on Carmelites.net, Facebook, Twitter etc). We will periodically compile the best reflections and share them with the community.