We are in the last week of ordinary time based on the Catholic liturgical calendar. In fact, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King today, a fitting tribute to end the liturgical ordinary time. Advent season kicks in next week. But even before that, we’ve been getting festive everywhere as the days go by. Christmas in the Philippines is practically celebrated just right after All Souls’ Day, when families start bringing out the decorations for the coming holidays which is still weeks away.
In our family, we prepare for Christmas by observing the time-old Catholic tradition of lighting the Advent wreath. This practice is still done in Catholic schools, where children light up a candle each week. Now there are four candles in the wreath representing the four weeks preparation prior to Christmas. There are three purple candles (signifying penance and sacrifice) which are lit first, and then a rose pink candle signifying joy. In some wreaths, there is a fifth candle—a white one—which is lit on Christmas Day representing our Lord Jesus Christ. Accompanying prayers are recited each week. Each time on a Sunday, my family and I converge and pray before our Nativity scene where the image of the Holy Family–Jesus, Mary and Joseph–are found. We have been doing this for more than five years already that it has become a family tradition to us. Our Christmas celebration is never complete without doing this and the Simbang Gabi (Christmas novena). But that is a different story altogether.
How to Recite the Prayers for Advent
There are plenty of available sources in the Internet to choose from. I used to get prayers from the Internet (Ignatian Spirituality offers great meditations and prayers for Advent). Since two years ago, we’ve started using The Advent Wreath Prayer Guide that I’ve purchased from the St. Paul Publications. Copies are still available there.