The English word, “Advent”, stems of course from the Latin word, “adventus”, meaning coming or arrival. This word has therefore been applied for centuries to the season of the year when Christians prepare to celebrate the First Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ -- His Nativity, His birth at Christmas.
Traditionally, the Church has taught that Advent is a season of preparation. This preparation means a review of one’s life, achieving a fresh sense of one’s sins and mistakes and shortcomings, and stimulating in one’s self a fresh desire for forgiveness and for a new start. Therefore, traditionally, the Church has used violet (penitential purple) as the Advent color and has viewed the Advent season as one for muted activity, without parties and other merrymaking, including weddings.
At the same time, paradoxically, Advent is a time of joy in looking to the approaching celebrations of Christ’s birth. Through Christ, God came among us in human form. This great sign of God’s love and grace should make us joyful and thankful.
Advent is also a time to review the promises God has made to man for our salvation and eternal life. The First Coming was part of theses promises -- Christ’s birth, His life and teachings, His death, His resurrection, His Ascension into heaven to rejoin the Father. All that has happened as foretold by the great prophets. But God has also promised a Second Coming, a New Advent, when evil will be vanquished, the dead will arise, judgment will be rendered and life eternal be granted to those who love God.
Advent, then, is a time for reflection, for penitence, for rejoicing in God’s love as shown in the First Coming and as promised in the Second Coming.