Saturday, 1 December 2007

The Season of Advent

Vespers this evening marks the beginning of a new Church year, and the start of the season of Advent. This is a time of preparing for the coming of the Lord. At the end of this season we celebrate His past coming in the Incarnation, when He was born at Bethlehem; yet the early part of Advent is focussed much more on preparing for His coming in the present (through the Scriptures, the Sacraments and prayer) and in the future, when He returns at the end of time.

In the Cathedral an information panel at the entrance gives more details of the Advent season. There are other visible differences: there are no longer any flowers in the church, but there is greenery surrounding the Advent candles, which have been placed around the Ambo. Here God's Word is read out, proclaimed to the people; the candles also proclaim the Lord, who comes among us as a light dispelling the darkness. Later in Advent sung Vespers will be celebrated daily with the ancient 'O' Antiphons (17th-23rd December) and first Vespers of Christmas will be sung on 24th December.