Advent Around the Wreath
During Advent, we look forward to celebrating the first coming of Jesus at Christmas. With great hope, we also look forward to Jesus’ second coming — His glorious return! As we wait, we seek deeper encounter with Jesus at the Mass, in the Eucharist, and through prayer.
The tradition of lighting candles and praying around an Advent Wreath offers families the perfect opportunity to pause and pray together. Through shared prayer and reflection, families encounter Jesus together while preparing their hearts for His coming. Ideally, Advent prayer works best in the context of regular family meals. If your family is unable to be together for meals, then be creative — find a routine that works for you!
The Candle links below provide prayers for your family to use as you light your Advent Candles. A parent or a child can lead the prayers. Try rotating responsibilities, — giving older children greater responsibilities keeps them engaged! Very young children can blow out candles, announce the new theme of each week, and recall the prior themes. Involve everyone!
“Table Talk” questions are also provided after each weekly prayer. Use these as starting points for conversation. Engage where your family shows interest; move on from questions that do not spark curiosity.
Advent Beyond the Wreath
Ascension Family Life would also like to encourage families to live the season of Advent beyond the wreath and candles. The links below contain daily scripture verses related to each weekly Advent theme. The verse cards are a way for you to incorporate Advent into daily life — focusing hearts on Jesus’ coming, and prompting opportunities for family prayer and discussion.
- Print a new scripture file each week (preferably on card stock, if available, but regular printer paper works too!)
- Cut the scripture cards apart on the dotted lines, using each card as dated.
- Place the cards in fun locations where your child(ren) can discover and read them on their own. Possible places: in their lunchbox, on their pillow, or at their place at the kitchen table.
- Optional: leave a small piece of candy or treat with each verse card.
- Circle back to the daily verses during family meal/prayer time. Let conversation develop naturally — some verses may be of particular interest to you or your child, and others not. Remember to consider the verses in context (who said it, when was it said, what story or thoughts surround the verse). Don’t be afraid to look the verses up in your Bible!
Observing Advent Symbols:
Shape: The circular shape of the wreath, without beginning or end, symbolizes God’s complete and unending love for us—a love that sent His Son into the world to redeem us from the curse of sin. It also represents eternal life which becomes ours through faith in Jesus Christ.
Number: The Advent Wreath traditionally holds four candles which are lit, one at a time, on each of the four Sundays of the Advent season. Each candle represents 1,000 years. Added together, the four candles symbolize the 4,000 years that humanity waited for the world’s Savior—from Adam and Eve to Jesus, whose birth was foretold in the Old Testament. Some Advent wreath traditions also include a fifth white “Christ” candle, symbolizing purity, that is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. Many circular wreaths can incorporate a white candle by adding a pillar candle to the wreath center.
Light: The candles symbolize the light of God entering the world through the birth of Jesus, and the four outer candles represent a period of waiting. A white center candle is sometimes used, and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or Day. While the light from the candles reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives, it also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s love and grace to others through living the virtues.
Color: Purple is the liturgical color used to signify seasons of preparation (Advent and Lent). As Catholics, we typically prepare our hearts through prayer, penance, and sacrifice. Advent, also called “little Lent,” is the season where we spiritually wait in “darkness” with hopeful expectation of our promised redemption. We wait just as the whole world awaited Christ’s birth, and just as the whole world now awaits his final return. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, which is Gaudete (Latin for “Rejoice”) Sunday. The rose color reminds us to have joy amidst our preparations.