As we begin the Third Week of Advent, we anticipate Christmas, and so we ask Christ to grant us His grace that we might be prepared for welcoming His Birth. Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, marks a traditional turning point in this period of preparation, and we see it visually in the Advent wreath. Not only do we light more candles than we leave unlit for the first time in Adventâ€”thus providing more light, symbolizing the light of Christâ€”but if our Advent wreath has a rose or pink candle, that’s the one that we light this week. The purple candles of the first two weeks (and of the fourth week) are symbols of penance, but the rose candle is a symbol of our coming joy.
Bishop Perpetuus of Tours, who died in 490, ordered fasting three days a week from the day after Saint Martin’s Day (11 November) In the 6th century, local councils enjoined fasting on all days except Saturdays and Sundays from Saint Martin’s Day to Epiphany (the feast of baptism), a period of 56 days, but of 40 days fasting, like the fast of Lent. It was therefore called Quadragesima Sancti Martini (Saint Martin’s Lent).This period of fasting was later shortened and called “Advent” by the Church.
The Roman Catholic Church later abolished the precept of fasting (at an unknown date at the latest in 1917), later, but kept Advent as a season of penitence. In addition to fasting, dancing and similar festivities were forbidden in these traditions. On Rose Sunday, relaxation of the fast was permitted. Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches still hold the tradition of fasting for 40 days before Christmas.
Week 3, Advent Prayer of Joy
Dear Jesus, help us focus on you during this busy season. May we stay aware of the joy you bring into our lives. We want to find you in the everyday moments and come with hearts of gratitude to your manger on Christmas. Amen.