Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace:
A Clip-and-Save Advent Wreath Prayer

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the Dec. 1, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

Mary Cronk Farrell Once again Advent has sneaked up on me. I was barely over Halloween when the relatives descended for Thanksgiving dinner. Seems I just finished the dishes and it’s Advent.

I decided years ago that “better late than never” is a great slogan for Advent. If the first Sunday comes and I haven’t made it to the store for the purple and pink candles, well, any day the first week is a good time to start lighting the Advent wreath.

The traditional Advent wreath is composed of four candles, three purple and one pink, set in a wreath of greenery. The first candle is lit the first Sunday of Advent, and an additional candle each remaining Sunday. The pink candle marks the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means rejoice in Latin and on this day we celebrate that Advent is half finished and Christmas is near. The color pink symbolizes joy. The purple of the other candles symbolizes the prayer, penitence and humility with which we prepare for Christmas. Evergreen boughs signify new life, and the circle of the wreath represents the eternity of God’s love.

Here is a simple prayer ritual you can use when lighting the candles each week until Christmas. 

Prayer Around the Advent Wreath

• First Week of Advent
Opening: Gather around the Advent wreath. Choose people to light the candle, read the Scripture and to lead the prayer and facilitate the reflection and action parts of the celebration. Begin with song, perhaps “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” or “Stay Awake,” or simply spend a few minutes in quiet.
Light the candle.
Leader: God of Light, we wait for your coming with hope. Prepare in our hearts a place for your love to be born.
All: Come, Jesus, come.
Reader: Mark 13:31-17
Reflection: Let’s think about what this reading is saying to us. Jesus warns us to stay awake and be watchful. What do you think he wants us to see? (Allow a few moments for reflection, then give each person a chance to share their thoughts.)
Action: In the coming week let’s all try to be more watchful. Let’s try to see through the eyes of Jesus. Any ideas how we might do this?
Closing: God of Light, bless us this week as we wait for your coming. Give us patience. Give us hope. Give us compassion. God of Light, shine in all the dark places of our hearts and in our world.
All: Amen.

(For the following weeks repeat the opening and closing from above.)

• Second Week of Advent Gospel: Mark 1-1-8
Reflection: John the Baptist was a messenger from God sent ahead to tell the people Jesus was coming. Can we be messengers from God, too?  How? 
Action: St. Francis said, “Preach the gospel at all times. And if necessary, use words.” Can you think of anything you could do this week that would be a message from God to others?

• Third Week of Advent
Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11 
Reflection: The prophet Isaiah speaks of bringing good news to the oppressed and liberty to the captives. Do you suppose he is talking only about people in jail?  Who in our neighborhood, family or community might be oppressed or captive?
Action: Isaiah says God will cause righteousness to spring forth like plants sprouting in a garden. Do you suppose God could use our help? In the coming week is their anything we can do to bring good news to someone, or to cause goodness to spring forth?

• Fourth Week of Advent
Gospel:  Luke 1:26-38
Reflection: When the angel appeared to Mary, her whole life changed. When new things happen in our lives, sometimes it can be scary. Think of a time in your life when things changed and you were worried or scared. Share how you got through this hard time. Action: The angel told Mary, “Do not be afraid.” But it is very human to be frightened in times of change. Can you think of ways we can help one another have courage in the face our fears?  How can we grow in faith so we can be more like Mary?

© 2005, Mary Cronk Farrell

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and children’s writer. Her latest book, Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, has been published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Contact her at

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