Introduction to Advent
The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year. Through the yearly cycle of readings, we celebrate the whole mystery of Christ, beginning with his incarnation and ending with Pentecost and the expectation of his second coming.
The General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar describes Advent in this way:
Advent has a twofold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ’s first coming to us is remembered; as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation (no. 39).
During Advent, both the content of the readings and the violet vestments worn by the clergy (with rose as an option on the 3rd Sunday) speak to the penitential aspect of the season. The Gloria is omitted, as during Lent, but for a somewhat different reason, as the official commentary on the revised Calendar notes: “so that on Christmas night the song of the angels may ring out anew in all its freshness.” Unlike Lent, however, the Alleluia is retained before the Gospel as a clear note of joyful expectation.
Advent begins on the Sunday falling on or closest to November 30th and ends at Christmas, encompassing four Sundays.