Traditionally, Advent wreaths are constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which four candles are inserted, representing the four weeks of Advent. Ideally, three candles are purple and one is rose, but white candles can also be used.
The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time.
The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas.
Evergreen symbolizes life. It remains green and alive even in the dead of winter.
The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of his second coming to judge the living and the dead
Week 4 – Three Purple and One Rose Candle and Prayer
Daily Prayer after lighting three purple and one rose candle.
Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Week 3 – Two Purple and One Rose Candle and Prayer
Daily Prayer after lighting two purple and one rose candle.
Lord God, may we, your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ experience the joy of salvation and celebrate that feast with love and thanksgiving. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Week 2 – Two Purple Candles and Prayer
Daily Prayer after lighting two purple candles.
God of power and mercy open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Week 1 – One Purple Candle and Prayer
Daily Prayer after lighting one purple candle.
Let us pray.
Stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, O Lord,
and come, so that we may escape through Thy protection
and be saved by Thy help from the dangers
that threaten us because of our sins.
Who livest and reignest for ever and ever.
During the first week one candle is left burning during the evening meal, at prayers or at bedtime.
Advent Wreath Blessing
The use of the Advent Wreath is a traditional practice which has found its place in the Church as well as in the home. The blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on the evening before the First Sunday of Advent.
When the blessing of the Advent Wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family.
All make the sign of the cross as the leader says:
Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Response (R/.) Who made heaven and earth.
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
R/. Thanks be to God.
With hands joined, the leader says:
Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The blessing may conclude with a verse from
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:
O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.