Sunday, November 30, 2008

Catholic Christmas Traditions: Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath, with its evergreen boughs and four candles, is often seen in Catholic homes and parishes. It symbolizes the centuries in which the world, overcome by darkness, waited for the coming of Christ.

Twined into a circle, the evergreen bough made into a wreath symbolizes God (the Alpha and the Omega, the first beginning and the last end) . The evergreen is chosen as the base because God is the foundation of all good; the evergreen, by its very name, also represents God's faithfulness to His promise to Adam and Eve (known as the protoevangelium, it is found in Genesis 3:15).

Together, the four candles in the wreath help us recall the 4,000 years that mankind hoped, prayed and waited for the Messiah.

The first candle in the wreath recalls Adam and Eve and the fall of mankind, and the protoevangelium.

The second candle brings to mind Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah's First Coming and His Passion.

The third candle represents St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ.

The fourth candle symbolizes the Virgin Mary, also prophesied by God in the protoevangelium, who brought Christ into the world.

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