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Faithfully waiting; an Advent relflection

By Meredith Lemos, Executive Manager Pastoral Services, CatholicCare Sydney

Often considered just a time for shopping for presents, putting up decorations, sending cards, enjoying parties and singing carols, the Advent season is so much more. Advent is the four-week period of expectant waiting, hopeful anticipation and joyful preparation of Jesus’ birth.  It is a time to:

The celebration of Advent takes place on the four Sundays prior to Christmas, follows four weekly themes; hope, peace, joy and loveand ends on Christmas Eve.

Advent in 2 Minutes

The Advent Wreath

A traditional part of the Advent season is the Advent Wreath or circle of evergreens. The circle is a symbol of eternity and a reminder that God has no beginning or end and the inclusion of the evergreens symbolises eternal life. Fastened to the wreath are four candles, three purple, and one pink, representing the four weeks of Advent. The gradual lighting of all the candles each week represents the increasing light of Christ as his coming draws near and provides a focus for our reflections each week. 

There is a fifth, and final, candle to be lit. Known as "Christ's candle", this white candle is placed in the middle of the Advent Wreath and lit on Christmas Day to represent the pure light of Jesus, who come on Christmas day as a baby in a manger.


Advent week 1 | The first candle is purple and represents HOPE.

Reading:  The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. Jeremiah 33:14-16

Prayer: God of Love, Your son, Jesus, is your greatest gift to us. He is a sign of your love. Help us to walk with one another with compassion and kindness, during the weeks of Advent. May our love for one another bring hope to those who despair. We pray this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Tree of HopeAdam* finds hope

I came to Australia with plans to study and gain recognition for my work. I had plans to go to Dubai to live and work there. But then I discovered I had HIV. I felt my life was at an end. I had no hope. In my time of despair, I didn’t know where to go. When I was invited to come to CatholicCare's Tree of Hope, it felt like home - like a family. Tree of Hope is unique. The community cares about me, accepts me, sits and listens to me and loves me for who I am. There is no judgement and I don’t feel alone. Jesus gives me hope through the family of Tree of Hope. God had other plans for me. I was blessed by the presence of community members and HIV opened the gate to a precious family. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future Jer.:29:11”
*Name changed to protect privacy


Advent Week 2 | The second candle is purple and represents PEACE.

Reading:  As it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Luke 3:4-6

Prayer: God of light, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. When we worry, are anxious or feel overwhelmed, help us to seek quiet spaces and trusted companions who will listen to us. May these times, places and people of peace remind us that you come to us to be one of us, with us and for us. Amen.

Companions MatterAmanda's* peace in companionship

CatholicCare's Companions Matter program has brought me such a sense of peace and tranquillity. Talking with someone I trust has offered me a new perspective and a fresh new look at life and the group gatherings and courses have brought me closer to others. I have also grown a greater understanding of myself. I would recommend Companions Matter to anyone.
*Name changed to protect privacy


Advent Week 3 | The third candle is pink and represents JOY

The change in colour reminds us that we are at the midpoint of Advent and we are close to Christmas - the day of Jesus’ birth!

Reading:  Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Luke 3:10-18

Prayer: God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share his love and become one with him when he comes in glory.  Amen.

Advent 3_Growing Towards Wholeness.pngJoyfully growing towards wholeness

Joy is the pure and simple delight in being alive. A spiritual and emotional contentment, as well as a deep satisfaction about our life and God given gifts. The joy that the Shepherd’s experienced when the angels told them “Today, a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” is the same joy that we are called to experience as we learn of Christ’s love for us.

As young people grow and develop, they are challenged to see their life in this joyous way. CatholicCare's Growing Towards Wholeness program aims to help young people to see their value and their worth as precious children of God. Although there are obvious physical changes, there are also emotional and social changes that often challenge our young people as they journey through adolescence. The qualified Family Life Educators who facilitate the Growing Towards Wholeness presentations highlight the uniqueness of each child, and the many gifts that God has given to them in order to grow towards a life of wholeness.


Advent Week 4 | The fourth candle is purple and represents LOVE.

Reading:  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. Luke 1: 13-14

Prayer: God of light, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. In our daily preparations and busyness, help us to seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day and prepare our hearts for your coming. Amen.

Advent 4_MRE.pngMarriage; an act of love and faith

As Hebrews 11: 1-2 says 'to have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see', marriage is an act of love and faith. When couples commit to marriage, they place an enormous amount of faith in each other. This is why we often refer to committed spouses as “faithful.” This is not just about blind trust, but the certainty that our much longed for lifelong commitment will be met by our spouse, and that our future contentment will forever be tied to them.

CatholicCare’s Marriage and Relationship Education program help prepare couples for a faithful and loving marriage to each other. While engagement is often exciting and couples can get caught up in the minutiae of wedding planning, the long term commitment to each other can get lost unless there is time set aside to focus on the enormity of lifelong love and faithfulness to their spouse.

“This course has helped us to understand each other,” said one couple, “to understand the need to make time and work on our relationship and that it is something you need to put ongoing time and effort into.”

During this week of Advent, may we reflect on the parallels of faithful marriage and our Catholic faith. When we look to those who have committed themselves to loving, faithful marriages, we see the image of God’s love and faithfulness to us and the Church.


There is a fifth, and final, candle to be lit. Known as "Christ's candle", this white candle is placed in the middle of the Advent Wreath and lit on Christmas Day to represent the pure light of Jesus, who come on Christmas day as a baby in a manger.


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