Liturgy We Live
by Dr. Gil Haas

“Advent” is derived from the Latin word for “coming”. A six-Sunday season that prepared the faithful for Christmas was first practiced in fifth century Gaul. The length of the season was modeled after the six Sundays of Lent. Reminiscent of Lent, fasting was proscribed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Countries closer to Gaul retained the six-Sunday Advent tradition, but churches more distant from Gaul, such as Spain and southern Italy, substituted a five-Sunday season. The oldest Roman lectionary, the Wurzburg manuscript, begins the church year with Christmas and concludes with the five Sundays of Advent. Eventually the season was reduced from five to four Sundays at Rome, and this decision influenced a shortened Advent season throughout Christendom. Advent, particularly in its Collects, symbolizes our preparation for the coming of Christ in a double manner - not only as a baby born in Bethlehem, but also Advent exhorts preparation for His second coming at the end of time. The season also commemorates the repentative ministry of John the Baptist and other prophets. Fasting is no longer practiced, albeit solemnity is stressed. The Gloria in Excelsis is often omitted in the masses of Advent for this reason.

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