Advent is a time of waiting in joyful hope and as we wait, we prepare ourselves for the incarnation in our lives by repenting and deepening our life in Christ. The wreath is a visual reminder of the journey we are on during this time. The colours of the candles signify the royal prince for whom we prepare. The wreath is comprised of three purple candles and one pink candle and one white candle in the middle.
Each candle signifies the particular Sunday.
The first candle (purple) – The Candle of Hope
The second candle (purple) – The Candle of Preparation
The third candle (pink/rose) – The Candle of Joy
The fourth candle (purple) – The Candle of Love
The fifth candle (white) – The Christ Candle
These candles help us to experience the liturgical celebration in our daily living – family life, domestic customs – and imbues the Christian’s whole life with Christian meaning and messianic flavour. We begin to experience the incarnation in our moment to moment living.
Today we light the pink or rose-coloured candle of our Advent wreath both at church and at home. But what is the significance of this particular candle and this particular Sunday? It is the Sunday of joy and rejoicing, known as Gaudete Sunday from the Latin word for rejoice. Gaudete Sunday anticipates the joy of the Christmas celebrations and sustains our hope. The pink or rose colour is a mixture of Advent purple and Christmas white. It also symbolises the colour of early dawn, new life, new beginning, redemptive work of Christ.
The beauty of our Catholic Culture and identity is that we celebrate, remember and mingle our celebrations. During this third week of Advent, on December 12, we also celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This feast reinforces the joy we celebrate during the third week.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
In 1531, Juan Diego, an indigenous peasant saw Our Lady on a hill on Tepeyac desert, near Mexico City. She told him to build a church exactly where they were standing. He told the local bishop who asked for a sign. She told Juan Diego to pick roses from the place where they were and take it to the bishop. Roses at that time of year, in that place, were most unlikely. Juan Diego picked the roses, placed it in his poncho and took it to the bishop. As he unfolded the poncho to hand over the roses, they all saw the image of a pregnant Aztec woman. This was the real proof.
Mary had been hope to these people and brought Christ to them. During this time the indigenous people were treated in inhumane ways and there were even questions about if they were really human beings. They were poor and lived under very harsh conditions. By appearing to one of them and asking that a church be built in their part of the world where there were no roads, Our Lady was bringing them joyful hope. This was real joy for these people. This restored their human dignity and as roads had to be built to facilitate the church and the many people who wanted to visit the site, the lives of the indigenous people also improved. The roads helped them with the marketing of their produce and the people who visited provided them with hospitality employment. They now had the opportunity of earning a decent income to improve their living conditions.
Mary is a wonderful example of someone who embodies the third Sunday of Advent. During this time of the liturgical year the Church, the Bride of Christ, allows herself to be filled with Christ, pregnant with Him, as Our Lady of Guadalupe. Each of us is a significant member of The Church and so should allow ourselves to be filled with Christ so we can become pregnant with Him and take Him to those who need hope and human dignity restored to them.
Our catechetical classes should encourage children to become bearers of joyful hope, new life, new beginnings, new dawn in union with Christ, the Lord, the giver of life. This week let us bring joy to someone; help with a new beginning, a new life, a new day. Let us try to appreciate and experience the incarnation of our God each moment and imitate Our Lady of Guadalupe.
We pray that Our Lady of Guadalupe will help us to experience joy, newness and new dawn during this week so that we can share the newness and joy with others as we help restore their hope and their human dignity.
Blessed Mother, bring us closer to your Son and help us so that others may experience Him through our lives. Amen
– Bernadette Ramkhelawan-Gopaul for Archdiocesan Catechetical Office