Advent is a time of preparation that connects our hearts and minds to the coming of Christ at the end of time and the celebration of His birth on Christmas.
Advent comes from the Latin “advenio,” meaning “to come.”
The Church focuses on the coming of Christ at the end of time in the first several weeks of Advent; in the latter part of Advent, the O Antiphons (Dec. 17-24), we focus on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord.
The liturgical color for Advent is purple, just like Lent. Both seasons prepare us for great feast days.
While Advent is not, strictly speaking, a penitential season, traditionally some penance and fasting was encouraged as a way of preparing for the joy of Christmas. This penitential dimension is expressed through the color purple, decorating the church and altar in a restrained manner, and the use of the organ and other musical instruments in a similar moderation.
The third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday, which comes from the first word of the Latin Entrance Antiphon for this day, meaning “rejoice.” The color rose is used, instead of purple, to heighten our awareness of the joyful coming of our Lord.
Advent acts of evangelization
First week of Advent
Day 1: Do something nice for your neighbors. Bring a small gift at the holidays or offer to do something for them, such as an errand or raking leaves.
Day 2: Pray for someone by name. Ask God for opportunities to share the faith with that person and trust His timing as you build a relationship with him or her.
Day 3: Open the door for someone.
Day 4: Go out into the world — literally. Find a way to connect with someone outside of your immediate circle of friends and family. A small conversation about a faith tradition or an invitation to a Church event are ways to evangelize.
Day 5: Write a letter to your parent or grandparent telling them how much you appreciate something they did.
Day 6: Share a story about why faith is important to you. It’s hard to argue against a lived experience.
Day 7: Forgive yourself for any mistakes you’ve made and confess them in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Second week of Advent
Day 8: Take a walk and pray the Rosary for someone.
Day 9: Befriend a stranger.
Day 10: Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
Day 11: Compliment your spouse or another family member.
Day 12: Make a donation to a Society of St. Vincent de Paul or thrift store.
Day 13: Let go of old grudges.
Day 14: Praise a child to the parents while the child is present.
Third week of Advent
Day 15: Tell someone you forgive them.
Day 16: Be kind to someone you dislike.
Day 17: Say “good morning” and “thank you” to public service workers (bus drivers, police officers, mail carriers or firefighters).
Day 18: Listen to a friend who vents with problems. Just listen.
Day 19: Write a letter to your former schoolteachers and tell them how much they influenced you.
Day 20: Pray for people in cars next to you at stop lights and ask God to give them peace.
Day 21: Instead of hosting a holiday party, host a service project to benefit others in need.
Fourth week of Advent
Day 22: Bring cookies or sing carols to the residents of a nursing home.
Day 23: If you’re a boss, be extra kind and generous to employees.
Day 24: Offer to organize a regular Rosary — invite your neighbors to pray together outside.
Day 25: Encounter Jesus in the Eucharist. Go to Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament or attend a weekday Mass. Look to Him for strength as you share His Good News with others.
Day 26: Volunteer for your parish. Offer to be a confirmation sponsor for a young person in your parish who doesn’t have someone to sponsor them.
Day 27: Display Catholic art in your home. This can open the door to conversation about faith.
Day 28: Write and mail a letter to a family member or friend.
Mrs. Brinker is a reporter for the St. Louis Review and Catholic St. Louis, publications of the St. Louis archdiocese.
This article is republished with permission.