Sunday, April 20, 2008

History of Advent

Advent is the first season of the liturgical year within the Catholic church. Its is a period of waiting that occupies the four weeks prior to Christmas. Advent is a season that should be used for penance, and reflection to ready the Christian person for the arrival of the Christ child.

The use of the word Advent stems from Latin and means second coming. It is a season that looks forward to the second coming of Jesus and yes has mindful and penitential elements as well. It is a true season of preparation, and not just for Christmas itself but also the second coming the Lord. Advent also draws from the Hebrews who were the ones who were originally waiting for their Messiah.

In the western churches, Advent begins on Advent Sunday or the first day of the liturgical year. And, this Sunday is also the first Sunday of Advent. The garments of the priest are now a deep purple and that keeps with the penitential spirit of the sacrament.

The earliest writings on the season date back to 480, according to when St. Gregory, who document St. Perpetuus in his book the History of the Franks. There was a passage that spoke of fasting three times a week from the feast of St. Martin, customarily Nov 11, until Christmas and said that St. Perpetuus spoke of it. Although it is unsure whether he started the custom or was speaking of an existing one. Also he denoted the period of 40 days equal to many things in the early Jewish and Christian churches. Jesus was in the desert for 40 days as were the Israelites. Noah's flood was 40 days and in the more modern times, Lent also was 40 days. Advent was also thought of as a second Lenten Season and was viewed the same as the penitential elements of Lent so were Advent.

The Council of Tours in 567 addressed fasting implored the monks to fast every day from the first day Day of December until Christmas. The penitential practice soon became a full 40 days and how the feast of St. Martin was picked. Advent called in the early church St. Martin's Lent. Then in 582, the First Council of Macon specified that the days between St. Martin's to Christmas be days of fasting, designating Monday, Wednesday and Friday as those days. The canon went on to say these days should be treated the same as Lent.



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