During the season of Advent, the priest wears the color of purple. The other season where the color of purple is prescribed is during the season of Lent. In the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, the color purple is used as a color of penance. The Church has recognized that as the major celebrations approach, there is a need to prepare one’s self (and the Church as a whole) to properly engage in this major event, and so it is with Christmas.
Just as when we prepare to go on a long trip for vacation, we will do a penance (of sorts) in preparation to fully enjoy the trip. We will set aside money, we will do extra laundry, we make arrangements to ensure that our house is monitored while we are gone. All of this is extra work on top of the normal daily routine. However, this extra work, if done well, allows us to fully enjoy the vacation. It is work, but the work will allow us to enter into the joy of the vacation. Similarly with our season of Advent.
If we prepare properly for the season of Christmas, with four weeks of preparation, we will have all the greater joy of the graces of the season of Christmas when it arrives. The season of Advent should be a time of increased prayer, where we engage in both the personal prayer and the reading of Sacred Scripture. We ought to be reading the Gospel accounts of how Mary and Joseph prepared for the arrival of Jesus. We ought to spend extra time in prayer individually and as a family, especially praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary (the mysteries about the early life of Jesus). Yes, this does mean more work and more time invested, but it is an investment worth making, just as our preparations for vacation are worth making.
Let us engage in this season of Advent through our penitential preparations so that we might experience an even greater joy at the time of Christmas!
Fr. Nels Gjengdahl