Prepare for the birth of Our Lord with Fr. Joseph’s Advent Reflections

When you sign up to receive Fr. Joseph’s Advent and Christmas Reflections, each Sunday this Advent season we’ll send you a special Advent reflection from Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe, MFVA, Chaplain of EWTN. In addition, we’ll send you a beautiful free eBook including all the reflections.

It is our prayer that that this resource will bring you closer to the Infant Jesus and His Blessed Mother as we take our journey to the Divine Infant’s Manger. 

To receive the eBook with Father’s 2023 meditations, please sign up here.

Watch This Week's Advent Reflection Video

During the weeks of Advent, this brief video meditation will help to guide us on our journey toward Christmas.

Why do we celebrate Advent?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 524) says,

When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, but I must decrease."


Why is Advent important to the Catholic Church?

This is a period of preparation for the celebration of the Incarnation at Christmas. As Christmas seems to arrive commercially ever earlier each year, the faithful should try to turn our hearts more toward the Lord. Mother Angelica, the foundress of EWTN, once said,

Let's not let the season pass without a depth of spirituality in our hearts that lets us ponder. Ponder the mystery of how, and why, this Omnipotent God, before Whom angels tremble, would come down and live nine months in the most pure and holy woman that ever lived, and ever will live. He was confined in a womb with that Infinite Intelligence, Infinite Power, and the Power of the Holy Spirit.


How do you prepare yourself during Advent?

First, it is a good idea to pray more, possibly including the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, the Franciscan Crown, and the Christmas Novena (see below), all of which call to mind the mysteries associated with the Lord coming into the world.

It is also important to read Sacred Scripture, especially the Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, chapters 2 and 3 of the Second Part on the Creed, expresses the Church's Faith in the Incarnation and Nativity of the Lord.

Finally, to truly prepare, it is important to go to Confession at least once during the season, and maybe go to daily Mass and do Eucharistic Adoration when you are able.


How do you observe Advent?

Advent is considered the Little Lent, as it begins by recalling that Christ will come at the end of the world as Judge, a reminder of the holiness with which we should be prepared to greet the Lord. Thus, although not strictly a penitential season, the faithful should turn their hearts toward Jesus in prayer, almsgiving, and sacrifice.

In the last part of Advent, we look forward with anticipation and joy to His First Coming, in Bethlehem. One way to do this is to meditate on the O Antiphons used in the Mass, each of which represents a messianic title of Christ from the Old Testament.


"Advent is a journey towards Bethlehem. May we let ourselves be drawn by the light of God made man." - Pope Francis


What are the Advent symbols?

There are many symbols for Advent: the Advent calendar, Advent wreath with candles, the Jesse Tree, and the Crèche - with the Baby Jesus absent until Christmas Eve. Each of these can be the basis of a family tradition, especially to teach children how to prepare for Jesus' Birth.

Why is purple used in Advent?

The liturgical year has different colors for the different seasons. Redemptionis Sacramentum (No. 121) says, "The purpose of using different colors is to express the specific character of the various mysteries. The use of the diverse colors is both pedagogical and symbolic of the various liturgical feasts and seasons."

Violet or purple, a symbol of suffering and penitence, is therefore the liturgical color used in Advent and in Lent.


"Don't get hurried. There may be something that I have to leave undone, then let it be undone. Just don't lose the essence of this season so that you really are alive with Jesus in the Womb of His Mother. Hidden, growing, patient, waiting; waiting for the birth in our lives - that birth of Jesus that makes Him radiate through us, that makes our wills one." - Mother Angelica

What do the four candles of the Advent wreath represent?

The candles indicate the different weeks of Advent. When you are in the first week of Advent, you light one purple candle, and for the second week, two purple candles. During the third week, you add the rose candle. Then for the final week, you light all four candles. These colors match the liturgical colors of the vestments for those weeks, with purple representing penance and rose representing rejoicing.

The Advent Wreath brings to mind the time before Jesus, when the world was in spiritual darkness. During Advent, we remember the Old Testament days as we anxiously anticipate His Birth at Christmas.

Which candle do you light first on Advent?

First Week: A purple candle

Second Week: A second purple candle, in addition to the first week's candle

Third Week: The first two week's candles and the rose or pink candle

Fourth Week: All four candles

"In Advent, Christians relive a dual impulse of the spirit: on the one hand, they raise their eyes towards the final destination of their pilgrimage through history, which is the glorious return of the Lord Jesus; on the other, remembering with emotion His birth in Bethlehem, they kneel before the Crib." - Pope Benedict XVI

What special prayers and practices are associated with Advent?

The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary should help you focus more on Jesus' Incarnation. Also, the Christmas Anticipation Novena is often said throughout Advent.

What is the meaning of Gaudete Sunday?

The Latin word "Gaudete" (rejoice) is the first word in the Entrance Antiphon of the Mass for the Third Sunday of Advent. It directs us to rejoice for the Lord's coming is at hand. On that day, the priest wears rose instead of purple vestments.

What is the Christmas novena?

This novena is a unique prayer for the last nine days of Advent, beginning on December 16th and ending on Christmas Eve. It will help you to prepare your heart for the Nativity of the Lord. The prayer is:

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold
At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires (mention request here)
Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother

Pray This Novena

Videos About Advent

What is the Jesse Tree?

The Jesse Tree helps to teach about salvation history by going through the lineage of Jesus. In Isaiah 11:1-3, we read:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

Read More

Where did the Jesse tree originate?

The Jesse Tree is a medieval practice whose exact origin is uncertain. However, as early as the 11th century it was depicted in an illuminated (illustrated) Gospel, the Vyšehrad Codex, in Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic).

Does Jesse mean Jesus?

No, Jesse is the father of King David and an ancestor of Jesus. Thus, the Davidic kings all sprang "from the root of Jesse" (Is. 11:1-3). This would be one the characteristics of the Messiah, fulfilled in Our Lord.