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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Wreaths - The Pope and His Red Candles

How quickly this last year has passed!  Now we're already at the second Sunday of Advent and my purple Advent candles are once again nowhere to be found.

I thought I would post once more this little tribute to red candles on an Advent wreath (yes, I know, not liturgically correct, but don't pink and purple really conjure up more of Easter than Christmas?  Just sayin... )

When it comes to Advent wreaths, my memories go back to my childhood in a German-American family.  My  Catholic grandparents brought the tradition with them from the old country.  The Advent wreath held a place of honor in those "pre" and early Vatican II days, and the candles were always red.  I know that some say this is a Lutheran German tradition, but our Catholic family always had an Advent wreath.  And there was nary a pink candle in sight!  It seems that our Holy Father adheres to the same custom:



Here's a shot of my Advent wreath:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting - I did not know the origin of using the red candles.
Our wonderful Irish Missionary priest (here in New Zealand) beautifully explained the Advent wreath when he was with us (retired back to Ireland 10 years ago)
(The following is from my memory)
He favoured 3 purple candles and 1 bright red:
The circle represents the no beginning/no end to God
The evergreen greenery represents the endless love of God for us
The purple candles represent our atonement for our sins (used on the 1st, 2 nd and 4th Sundays
The red candle, lit on the 3rd Sunday - a note of joy in expectation of the coming Christmas.
He always asked the ladies who so beautifully decorated the church, to use some red and purple ribbon to be entertwined in the greenery - it looked beautiful but also entertwined the joy and sorrow into the wreath.

He never used a white candle at the center of the wreath for Christmas - the wreath was always removed at the end of Advent.
New Zealand has a lot of people who are either immigrants themselves, or issued out of immigrant families, or have young people who are on their overseas experience, and also many visitors come to NZ during Christmas and he himself as a Missionary was away from his family. So at the beginning of all the Christmas Masses, he lit a special big white "Christmas " candle to unite ourselves in memory with all our loved ones with whom we could not be.

The Advent wreath is a lovely custom (I know, not a "requisite") that probably differentiates in different countries, but it is a lovely custom that helps us to concentrate on the coming wonder of Christmas. It is very sad indeed when a Parish abandons this lovely symbol.

Wishing you all a Blessed Advent and .Christmas seasons and safety and protection for all those who are in troubled lands.

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