Beginning the Church’s liturgical year, Advent (from “ad-venire” or “to come to” in Latin) is the season encompassing the four Sundays leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time, and to the anniversary of Our Lord’s birth on Christmas.
Advent begins on Sunday, December 3, 2023.
Advent Penance Services
Advent is a time to seek the Lord’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Various parishes throughout the diocese will host communal penance services leading up to Christmas.
2023 Advent Calendar
Every day leading up to the celebration of our Lord’s birth at Christmas, join the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown for seasonal reflections and special presentations from local priests, deacons, and laypeople to open your heart and mind to the joy of receiving Jesus at his birth.
The use of an Advent Wreath is a traditional practice which has found its place in the Church as well as the home. The blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent, or on the evening before.
The origins of the Christmas tree are found in the medieval mystery plays that depicted the tree of paradise and the Christmas light or candle that symbolized Christ, the Light of the world.
In its present form, the custom of displaying figures depicting the birth of Jesus Christ owes its origin to Saint Francis of Assisi, who made the Christmas crèche or manger for Christmas Eve of 1223.
The Christian form of Lectio Divina was first introduced by Saint Gregory of Nyssa, and also encouraged by the founder of the Benedictine order, Saint Benedict of Nursia. The Lectio Divina involves repeated readings of chosen spiritual texts in order to reflect deeply and respond thoughtfully.
The "O Antiphons" of Advent
The “O” Antiphons, sung in the Roman Church since the eighth century, accompany the Magnificat canticle of evening prayer from December 17-23, using ancient biblical imagery to proclaim the coming of Christ as the fulfillment of both Old Testament and present-day hopes.
Festival of Lessons and Carols
The Festival of Lessons and Carols is a service of Scripture and song that dates to the late 19th century, in which nine Scripture lessons recount the Fall, the promise of a Messiah, the Incarnation, and the Great Commission to preach the Good News, followed by a carol or other song.