The liturgical season of Advent always begins on the nearest Sunday to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 30) and includes four Sundays. It is based on the Latin for “to come to.” Many churches will decorate during this time with purple, the liturgical color of repentance this season shares with Lent.
Advent’s Scripture readings compel Catholics to “ready the way of the Lord,” combining Old and New Testament stories prefiguring Christ’s birth and second coming.
Advent is a time for Catholics to prepare to:
- Celebrate the Incarnation at Christmas.
- Receive the Eucharist.
- Accept the Final Judgment at death and at the end of the world.
The Third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” means “rejoice” in Latin and is taken for the first word in that Sunday’s Mass’ introit, or opening psalm. This Sunday reminds the faithful that joy should always be in a Christian’s heart.
Advent originated as 40-day fast before Christmas as early as the fifth century, beginning around the Nov. 11 feast of St. Martin of Tours. Over the years, Advent was shortened to its present duration and the fast replaced by simple abstinence, meaning the church asks the faithful to make small sacrifices through Advent as it awaits the Christmas season.
Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia