On the first day
of Advent, Catholic families will set up Advent wreath -- a wreath of
greenery adorned by a set of four candles -- typically, three
violet-colored, and one rose-colored to match the priest's vestments on
each of the days the candles are lit. The wreath is either set upon a
table (especially the dining room table), on the family altar, on
pedestals, an end table, etc., or it can by suspended by ribbons from
the ceiling, such as from a light fixture. The candles can be long,
slim tapers, small votives, or fat pillars.
The circular shape of the wreath is a symbol of eternity, and the
greenery symbolizes hope and renewal. The colors of the typically-used
violet and rose candles symbolize penance and joy, respectively.
Each candle also represents one of the four weeks of Advent, and one
thousand years of the four thousand years that passed between Adam and
Eve to Christ's coming -- such a long time to wait for the Messias!
The first candle also recalls the Patriarchs; the second candle recalls
the Prophets; the third candle recalls St. John the Baptist; and the
final candle recalls Our Lady.
If colored candles are used, the violet candles are lit on the first,
second, and fourth Sundays of Advent, and the rose candle is lit on the
third Sunday ("Gaudete Sunday," when
the priest also wears rose
vestments at Mass), a day of rejoicing because the faithful have
arrived at the midpoint of Advent and anticipate Christmas. In any
case, whether colored or white candles are used, one more candle is lit
each week at dinnertime, the progressive lighting of the candles
symbolizing the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first
coming into the world -- with each successive candle representing 1,000
years that Israel waited -- and our anticipation of His second
judge the living and the dead. The candles are kept burning throughout
the Sunday supper, and then are immediately blown out afterward
(candles can be replaced and greenery freshened as needed).
At midnight on Christmas Eve, the Advent wreath is replaced by a white
"Christ candle" that is suitably adorned with holly, or by being carved
with symbols of Christ, etc. This Christ Candle is used until the
Ephiphany or Candlemas, depending on the family's particular Christmas
customs. The greenery of the Advent wreath can now be decorated and
turned into a Christmas wreath for use throughout the Christmas season.
Below are prayers for the blessing of the wreath and the lighting of
the candles each week, which you can download in
Advent Wreath Rituals
Blessing of the Wreath
Father: O God,
by whose word all things are sanctified, pour forth Thy blessing upon
this wreath, and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for
the coming of Christ and may receive from Thee abundant graces. Through
Christ our Lord. Amen.
As Mother lights the 1st candle
(John 1:1-5; Psalm 49:2-5, 71:2-8, 8-15):
Father: In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and
the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things
were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In
him was life: and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth
in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Out of Sion the loveliness of his beauty. God shall come manifestly:
our God shall come, and shall not keep silence. A fire shall burn
before him: and a mighty tempest shall be round about him. He shall
call heaven from above, and the earth, to judge his people. Gather ye
together his saints to him: who set his covenant before sacrifices.
Give to the king thy judgment, O God: and to the king's son thy
justice: To judge thy people with justice, and thy poor with judgment.
Let the mountains receive peace for the people: and the hills justice.
He shall judge the poor of the people, and he shall save the children
of the poor: and he shall humble the oppressor. And he shall continue
with the sun, and before the moon, throughout all generations. He shall
come down like rain upon the fleece; and as showers falling gently upon
the earth. In his days shall justice spring up, and abundance of peace,
till the moon be taken sway. And all kings of the earth shall adore
him: all nations shall serve him. For he shall deliver the poor from
the mighty: and the needy that had no helper. He shall spare the poor
and needy: and he shall save the souls of the poor. He shall redeem
their souls from usuries and iniquity: and their names shall be
honourable in his sight. And he shall live, and to him shall be given
of the gold of Arabia, for him they shall always adore: they shall
bless him all the day.
Father: Stir up Thy power, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come: that from
the threatening dangers of our sins we may deserve to be rescued by Thy
protection, and to be saved by Thy deliverance. Who livest and
reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world
Father: Alleluia, alleluia. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam,
et salutare tuum da nobis. Amen. (Alleluia, alleluia. Show us, O Lord,
Thy mercy; and grant us Thy salvation. Alleluia.)
As Mother lights the 1st and 2nd candles in order
Father: And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and
a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord
shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the
spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of
godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the
Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor
reprove according to the hearing of the ears. But he shall judge the
poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the
earth: land he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and
with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. And justice shall
be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins. The wolf
shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid:
the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little
child shall lead them. The calf and the bear shall feed: their young
ones shall rest together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And
the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp: and the weaned
child shall thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk. They shall
not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain, for the earth is
filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the
sea. In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the
people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be
Father: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way of Thine
only-begotten Son: that through His coming we mat attain to serve Thee
with purified minds. Who liveth and reigneth, with God the Father, in
the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.
Father: Alleluia, alleluia. Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi:
in domum Domini ibimus. Alleluia. (Alleluia, alleluia. I rejoiced at
the things that were said to me: We shall go unto the house of the
As Mother lights the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd candles in order
(Isaias 9:2, 6-7, 40:3-5, 52:7, 7:14-15):
The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them
that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.
For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government
is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful,
Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince
of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of
peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to
establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from
henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform
The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. Every valley
shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and
the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain. And the
glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see,
that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good
tidings, and that preacheth peace: of him that sheweth forth good, that
preacheth salvation, that saith to Sion: Thy God shall reign!
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall
conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He
shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to
choose the good.
Father: Incline Thine ear, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to our petitions:
and, by the grace of Thy visitation, enlighten the darkness of our
minds. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of
the Holy Ghost, world without end.
Father: Alleluia, alleluia. Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni ut
salvos facias nos. Alleluia. (Alleluia, alleluia. Stir up, O Lord, Thy
might, and come to save us. Alleluia.)
As Mother lights all the candles in order
(Luke 1:24-33, 2:1-6; Apocalypse 22:20):
And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city
of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name
was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. And
the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord
is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was
troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of
salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary,
for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy
womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and
the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he
shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there
shall be no end.
And it came to pass that in those days there went out a decree from
Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling
was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be
enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from
Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David,
which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of
David. To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.
And it came to pass that when they were there, her days were
accomplished that she should be delivered.
He that giveth testimony of these things, saith, Surely I come quickly:
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Father: O Lord, we beseech Thee, stir up Thy power, and come, and with
great might succor us: that by the help of Thy grace that which is
hindered by our sins may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness: Who
livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy
Ghost, world without end.
Father: Alleluia, alleluia. Veni, Domine, et noli tardare: relaxa
facinora plebis tuae Israel. Alleluia. (Alleluia, alleluia. Come, O
Lord, and tarry not: forgive the sins of Thy people Israel. Alleluia.)