(Incense during vespers of Advent.)
The time of Advent celebrates the triple coming of Christ; His birth in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, his coming into the heart of men of all times, and his glorious return at the end of time. From the beginning of the liturgical year, the threefold reference to past, present and future, which belongs to the structure of the liturgy, is made manifest.
Indeed, at Christmas, the faithful contemplate Christ born in Bethlehem, as had announced by the prophets of the Old Testament and await the fulfillment of God’s promise. This is to accommodate the presence of Christ to feed his word, waiting and hope of his return in glory. For Christians, the season of Advent is a time of conversion, wait and hope.
The liturgy of Advent is based on the date of 17 December. The first weeks invite vigilance; Christians must be ready for the coming of Christ, which coming is unknown. As of December 17, the readings show the genealogy of the Annunciation and the birth of Christ. According to the National Service of liturgical and sacramental pastoral in France, it is the paschal mystery that gives meaning to the Advent, which raised hopes and advance towards the Kingdom of God and the Last Judgment; Nativity symbolizing the Lord joining the men in their condition.
With a view to concentrate Christians on the first and second coming of Jesus Christ as Savior, then as a Judge, additional lessons are taught the four Sundays of Advent. In addition, the Church then encourages sermons on themes of waiting and Hope, respectively symbolized by the watchman of Isaiah and the return of Christ in glory.
In the Catholic liturgical calendar, Advent consists of four weeks, each starting with a Sunday:
- First Sunday of Advent (Levavi), following the 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time;
- Second Sunday of Advent (Populus Sion);
- Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete);
- Fourth Sunday of Advent (Rorate).