As a suggestion for each family to establish their own in-home Sacramental using an Advent Wreath for each Sunday of Advent, the Church welcomes members to take part in the lighting and praying with the signs of hope, love, joy, and peace, in a world filled with doubt, hatred, sadness, and war at this time of waiting for Christ to come again. Following is one possibility you may use, in-whole or in-part as you wish to grasp the meaning of this ancient, but still used reminder of the “Coming of Christ” and perhaps assist in sharing this profound act of familial prayer.
First, the actual origins are uncertain, but some say pre-Christian Germanic people used wreathes with lit candles on cold and dark December days looking forward with hope towards the coming days of Spring. The Middle Ages found Christians using this tradition as part of a spiritual preparation for Christmas.
Second, the use of the wreath invites a sense of hope with the greens and smell of freshness that evergreens can present, especially in a home where the fragrance is easier to adhere to. You may not want to use actual greens because of candles around flammable tree branches. Artificial wreathes can be purchased at most retail stores if you so desire. However, use discretion when working with fire.
Third, the four candles around the center white candle (lit on Christmas Eve) reflect the Sundays of Advent, each one being lit with prayers and the symbolism of Christ’s coming birth and the promise of Our Heavenly Father’s plan to complete His word of redeeming His Creation beginning with the Incarnation of the Word of God, and saving mankind for the Gates of Heaven.
Prayers are taken from the Collect (gathering prayer) of the Mass for each Sunday of Advent. The prayers for the candle lighting are from Deacon Ralph Hathaway, but you may adapt other words if you so desire.
1st Sunday of Advent
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen. Use this formula before and after each prayer session.
Have a different family member read this prayer, each Sunday and someone else to do the reading.
“Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” Amen
Reading: Isaiah 7: 11-14
“The Lord spoke to Ahaz: Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep deep as the nether world, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!” Then he said: Listen O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary my God! Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”
Words spoken as the 1st candle is lit.
Heavenly Father, we light this candle as the first sign that is the promise of hope given to us that we are not to remain in darkness, but look for the light of grace that lives within each of us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
2nd Sunday of Advent
“Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” Amen
Reading: Isaiah 40: 3-5
“A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; The rough land shall be made level. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all mankind shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Words spoken as the 2nd candle is lit.
O Lord, as we light this second candle as a sign of the endless love from your countenance may we see the path that leads us to the promise given so long ago. We pray this through Christ our Lord. Amen
3rd Sunday of Advent - Rejoicing
“Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever.” Amen
Reading: Isaiah 9: 5-6
“For a child is born, to us a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. He will be called Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David’s throne, and all his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgement and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
Words spoken as the pink candle is lit.
Loving God, our Blessed Mother Mary brought all joy to the world as she prepared for your Son Jesus Christ to be born. Our prayer is the same joy will enhance our time of waiting for the redemption of our souls through Christ our Lord. Amen
4th Sunday of Advent
“Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” Amen
Reading: Luke 2: 10-14
“Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to god in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Words spoken as the 4th candle is lit
Merciful Lord, this last candle we light reminds us of the one promise Jesus spoke of constantly; PEACE; will be our hope, love, and joy in this time of waiting for the Incarnation of Jesus into our needy lives. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.