Roman Catholic Advent Season

Advent In The Catholic Church

Children love the Roman Catholic Advent Season! I do too.

It's extra special with little children because it's fun to prepare for Jesus' birthday with Advent wreath, prayers, and candles. Be encouraged to start a tradition with your children to enjoy many endearing moments.

One year one of our children said, "It's nice to have reminders of Jesus before the Christmas break." What a sweet thought!

Advent in the Catholic Church begins four Sundays before Christmas and lasts through December 24th.

Roman Catholic Advent Season - Catholic Advent Wreath And Advent PrayersRoman Catholic Advent Season, Wreath, Prayers, and Calendar

Create Joy in Catechism Class

See our Catholic Advent coloring pages for kids and other activities at these links below:

  1. Catholic Advent Wreath Prayers, Candles, and coloring page.
  2. Advent prayers.
  3. Three page printable Advent calendar.
  4. Printable Saint Andrew Prayers and coloring pages (Christmas Novena: St. Alphonsus Liguori). Hail and blessed be the hour....
  5. Jesse Tree and O Antiphons.
  6. Christmas Preparations.
  7. Saint Andrew, November 30.
  8. Saint Nicholas, December 6.
  9. Holy Days: Immaculate Conception, Dec 8; Christmas, Dec 25.

1. Catholic Advent Wreath

Advent Wreath Coloring Picture

One of the most memorable Advent traditions is lighting the Advent candles in the Advent wreath, and saying Advent prayers in anticipation of the Christmas season. 

In our family we often use the prayers or readings of the Mass for each Sunday.

Your children will like our Advent wreath coloring picture. Be sure to teach them that the two shortest candles and the tallest candle would be purple, and that the second tallest in the picture would be pink.

The holly berries can be red, yellow, or white depending on the kind of holly you like. The ribbon can be purple for the Advent season.

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Catholic Coloring Pages To Print Ebook

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Catholic Advent Season: Advent Candles

There are three purple candles and one that is rose colored or pink for a total of four candles. The rose candle represents the more joyful third week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday "Rejoice in the Lord".  Well, okay, Sunday is more joyful anyway, yet this is also the beginning of the more penitential Ember Week.

I remember that when we were first married we could not find the four pack of candles so we used white candles with colored ribbons at the base (beware the fire hazard). Pink candles were everywhere, but purple candles were hard to find.

At about the ten year mark we moved to Kansas and its purple K-State territory. There were purple candles even in the grocery stores!

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Now we have the internet and can even find fabulously beautiful Advent candles in purple and pink colors with no problem. You can buy a set at Amazon here.

On Christmas Eve we use the same Advent wreaths (one on the front door and one on our table), yet exchange the pink and purple candles and ribbons of Advent for the white, red and gold of Christmas.

This way we are able to put up most of our "Christmas decorations" during the Advent season and quickly change them for Christmas with the least amount of work on Christmas Eve.

Catholic Advent And Bible Stories

This is a wonderful time of the year to teach the Bible stories that surround the Birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. It's also a great time to teach children about the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary as they cover the time leading up to Advent through the year.

Simply reading the Bible stories that lead up to the Nativity, or explaining the Joyful Mysteries,  can help your little ones understand that Advent is the time when you prepare for Jesus' birthday.

Kids love the story of the Angel Gabriel announcing to Mary, the story of St. John the Baptist, and the stories of the angels appearing in glory to the simple shepherds.

There's so much that can be done in catechism class, yet some years simply snuggling up with a picture book at home on the couch is best for making the season memorable for your children.

  • Tell the story of the prophecies that led up to the Nativity.
  • Teach about the penitential side of St. John the Baptist's admonition to "Do penance". Beware. Some Bibles say other things on the Third or Fourth Sunday in Advent.
  • Teach the story of the Nativity and how it fulfills the prophecies 
  • Children love Advent stories because Jesus was the sweetest child.

New Catholic Picture Bible Stories

Little ones love when you use the New Catholic Picture Bible like a photo album.

Share the Bible stories as if they are stories from your own life because they are. God wants to be part of our every day lives. :-)

Buy this picture Bible at Amazon.

When Does The Catholic Advent Season Begin?

When does Advent start? Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas Day which makes the start of Advent a variable date. Since Christmas is on different days of the week each year, the last week of Advent is often shorter than seven days.

The Advent season could be as short as twenty-two days when Christmas falls on a Monday. That's basically only three weeks!

This is why Advent calendars generally show only December 1 through December 25. 

Children like to learn that the name Jesus means Savior. Each of the four Sundays in Advent represents one of the four thousand years that mankind awaited its Savior. 

When it comes to children opening the doors on the Advent calendar or coloring a new picture on each of the days of the calendar, the last few days in a short week may to cut some children short.

Try to think of this at the beginning of Advent and work backwards. Sometimes the little one is not aware, sometimes the little one hopes to have December 24; so a little planning can be a big help.

With the days being twenty-four from December 1, 24 is such a great number for 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 12 children because it's evenly divisible by these numbers and each child can have several turns with the calendar.

2. Roman Catholic Advent Prayers

The Roman Catholic Advent season sets our minds in a hopeful direction for the true spirit of the Christmas season.

The Advent prayers teach you to prepare for Jesus in a way that you can imitate every time that you intend to receive Holy Communion, so this is a wonderful tradition for the First Communion year.

Teach that it is wonderful that "Jesus is coming"!

Right before dinner on each of the four Sundays of Advent you can light the Advent candles, and then say short Advent prayers. 

The easiest Advent prayers you can find are those in your Missal, especially the Post Communion for each Sunday. You can also use the Introit, Collect or Communion Prayers.

At our house the length of the prayers sometimes depends on how little our youngest children are. You can say a simple Hail Mary and ask the Holy Family to help your family.

If you want to read appropriate Bible readings, again you can use the Missal and turn to the Epistles and the Gospels for the different Sundays of Advent.

The Propers of Advent make great Advent readings from scripture. This way you have the confidence of knowing that you are praying as the Church prays.

Catholic Advent Wreath Prayers

The Latin title of the Introit of a Mass is where the name of the Mass originates. For example:

What is a Rorate Coeli Mass? 

In traditional Catholic Missals, the Rorate Mass is the Mass of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, so named by its Introit that begins, "Rorate coeli". Traditionally, it is also used on the ferial days before Christmas Day during the last week in Advent.

  1. Ad Te Levavi Mass: First Sunday Of Advent Prayer
  2. Populus Sion Mass: Second Sunday Of Advent Prayer
  3. Gaudete In Domino Mass: Third Sunday Of Advent Prayer
  4. Rorate Coeli Mass: Fourth Sunday Of Advent Prayer

Are there more than one Rorate Coeli Masses?

In a way, yes, there are more than one Rorate Coeli Masses. The Advent Ember Wednesday's Mass begins with the Rorate Coeli Introit, or opening prayer. There is also a Mass of Our Lady that begins this way.

This Rorate Introit introduces the Ember Wednesday Mass. 

The 1953 New Marian Missal says on page 55:

"On the Wednesday of Ember Week in Advent, the Mystery of the Annunciation is commemorated by many Churches. The Mass is sung early in the morning. That Mass is sometimes called the Golden Mass, Rorate Mass or Messias Mass."

The reason many Catholics today have not heard of this Mass is that most Catholics have not learned about Ember Days nor do they know to go to Mass on that day. Being a weekday Mass it is hard for many people, especially families to attend Mass.

Ember Wednesday Rorate Coeli Mass Ceremony In Advent

Again on page 55: 

"On that occasion the Church is illuminated as a token that the world was still in darkness when the light of the world appeared. . . . [the Church] expresses on that day her longing for the arrival of the Messias."

Origin Of The Advent Ember Wednesday Rorate Coeli Mass

"The mass is called the Golden Mass possibly because in the Middle Ages he whole of the Mass or at least the initial letters were written in gold, or on account of the golden magnificence of the slemnity or more probably on account of the special, great, 'golden' grace which, at that time is obtained by the numerous prayers." ~page 55, New Marian Missal, 1953.

Advent Prayers

The Collect Prayers from the Fr. Lasance New Roman Missal are wonderful Advent prayers that you can say on the Sundays in Advent as you light the candles on your wreath. For your convenience, see them below.

Courtesy of CCWatershed's 1937 Fr. Lasance Missal (PDF).

A. Ad Te Levavi Mass:
First Sunday Of Advent Prayer

First Sunday Of Advent - Light one purple candle.First Sunday Of Advent - Light one purple candle.

BESTIR, 0 Lord, Thy might, we pray Thee and come; That, defended by Thee, we may deserve rescue from approaching dangers brought on by our sins,and being set free by Thee, obtain our salvation. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

B. Populus Sion Mass:
Second Sunday Of Advent Prayer

Second Sunday Of Advent - Light two purple candles.Second Sunday Of Advent - Light two purple candles.

STIR up our hearts. 0 Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son, that through His coming we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

C. Gaudete In Domino Mass:
Third Sunday Of Advent Prayer

Third Sunday Of Advent - Light two purple candles and one rose candle.Third Sunday Of Advent - Light two purple candles and one rose candle.

INCLINE Thine ear to our prayers, 0 Lord, we beseech Thee; and make bright the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

D. Rorate Coeli Mass: Fourth Sunday Of Advent Prayer

Fourth Sunday Of Advent - Light three purple candles and one rose candle.Fourth Sunday Of Advent - Light three purple candles and one rose candle.

BESTIR, 0 Lord, Thy might, we beseech thee, and come; and with great power to our aid, that, by the of Thy grace, that Which is hindered by our sins may be by Thy merciful forgiveness. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Advent Season Traditions

Another favorite Advent tradition of ours is when Dad moves the people and animals in our Bethlehem scene. During the last week he will bring out Mary and Joseph so that the children can think of them traveling to Bethlehem.

Each day they move closer and closer to the crib.

On Christmas Eve Dad moves Baby Jesus into the crib so that the little ones can see Jesus first thing in the morning. If we go to Midnight Mass, Dad's usually the last person out of the house, checking on things of course (meaning he's putting Jesus in his crib). :-)

In the days after Christmas he also moves the shepherds and the Three Kings closer to the crib. After the Epiphany, he moves them away.

3. Catholic Advent Calendar: 3 Printable Advent Coloring Pages

3.A. Printable Advent Calendar To Color

3.B. Printable Advent Calendar Pieces

3.C. Printable Christmas Stable To Color

See the photo below of the colored 8.5x11 stable coloring page with the pieces from above placed in the Nativity Scene.

Our St. Anne's Helper printable Catholic Advent calendar prints in three pages:

  • Two black and white Advent coloring pages including a stable.
  • Already colored Advent clip art cut outs for little ones.

This calendar is the simple fruit of a labor of love. You can teach your children about Jesus in a way that increases their love for Him and His sweet Mother Mary and Foster Father Joseph.

Our daughter comments below with a submission that has our printable Advent calendar colored and pieced together complete with photo.

There are several ways to use this printable Advent calendar.

1. The children can either use the colored pieces to assemble their own Nativity scene, or color and cut their own colored Nativity pieces. Print the page of your choice: color or black and white to color. At our house, we take turns adding the pieces to the calendar.

At the time of this writing we have eight children, so when we start on December 1, every child gets to place three pieces by the time Christmas comes. The youngest get to place any extra pieces depending on the number of days.

Now that you have this printable calendar, every child can have his own calendar, or your children could make them as gifts to give to family and friends. The finished product can also make an endearing homemade Christmas card.

2. The very littlest ones love coloring their own pieces. Have them color first and cut last. :-)

3. Simply coloring the image on each date can keep track of the Catholic Advent calendar, too, even without the cutting. Simply color each figure one per day as you count down to Jesus' Birthday.

Each year the actual number of days in Advent varies as the beginning of Advent is a movable feast, at least date-wise.

During shorter Advent seasons the extra Christmas images can still be used to decorate the Nativity scene - or dry the tears of any left out children. :-)

Trina's Printable Advent Calendar

Finished with photo!

A printable advent calendar is a great way to get ready for Jesus' coming! It is fun to start getting the stable ready for Jesus. First comes the manger then the other nativity animals, then the shepherds, Kings, St. Joseph and Mary - all waiting for Baby Jesus! Then on Christmas Day the big day you get to put Baby Jesus in His crib!

Our Christmas Tradition:

A Christmas tradition that we really enjoy for our Nativity Scene is similar to the Advent calendar.

  • At the beginning of Advent we just have the animals in the stable under our Christmas tree. Then we put the shepherds off a little distance from the tree watching their sheep. 
  • A day or two before Christmas Mary and Joseph come. 
  • Then on Christmas Eve night while we are all in bed, Dad puts Baby Jesus in his crib! The younger ones are always delighted on Christmas morning to find Baby Jesus in his crib! 

Also, remember the Kings. They come on January 6! For us they normally make an appearance in our living room about a day or two after Christmas and then inch their way to the Nativity every day. ;-) 

This is a great way for younger ones to understand the events in the order that they happened and also gives them a feel for waiting for Jesus to come! 


Kansas, USA

4. Roman Catholic Advent Season

What is Advent? The Roman Catholic Advent Season is the liturgical season previous to Christmas. It is a warm season filled with the anticipation of the coming of Jesus, or in other words the Advent of Jesus. Advent means "coming".

"The ecclesiastical year begins on the first Sunday of Advent, that is, on the Sunday next, whether before or after, the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, November 30.

"Following this are the four weeks of Advent and the Christmas festivals, ending with the Epiphany, January 6.

"The Sundays that follow are called the first, the second, and so forth, after the Epiphany. They are never more than six in number, and their series is, as a rule, interrupted by the coming of Septuagesima Sunday, which is the ninth before Easter Sunday and the first of those on which the liturgy is of a penitential character." (Fr. Lassance Missal p. 1622)

The Roman Catholic Advent season and Christmas traditions depend upon the birth of Christ. After all Christmas is Jesus' Birthday. Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Also, Christmas means Christ Mass - the Mass of Christ.

Advent represents what mankind had hoped to see since the time of God's promise to Adam four thousand years earlier. Christmas, the Birth of Jesus, was the first manifestation (to most of us) that our hope is true!

Every year we commemorate this pivotal point in history by preparing our own hearts and homes for the coming of Jesus as St. John the Baptist had warned "Prepare ye".

The more that you explain, especially using respectful picture books, the more your children will love the season of Advent and the better they will prepare for Christmas. It can be like telling a very interesting story about your great great uncle.

It is really fun to see their faces light up when they recognize the Christmas themes at church and school or in the stores and restaurants. 

5. Saint Andrew Prayers And Coloring Pages

Starting on November 30, we like to say the St. Andrew's Novena after Rosary each night.

This is also called the Christmas novena. "Hail and blessed be the hour in which...." After Rosary is a natural time to say the Saint Andrew prayer and it coincides with the Roman Catholic Advent season.

You can keep a crib to fill with soft papers for Baby Jesus as you help your children follow the Advent calendar. 

After Rosary, your little ones can add their papers or yarn bits for their acts of love and sacrifice for Jesus. Some years we do this before Rosary for less distraction. Of course that Rosary can count for one straw before bed, too.

You can use our free printable Advent calendar as above to help keep track of the days in the novena. Children love the count-down. We also have beautiful printable Saint Andrew prayer cards, a worksheet, and a coloring page here.

6. Jesse Tree Ornaments and
O Antiphons

Jessica has wonderful ideas on her Shower of Roses blog. As she prepares for the feasts throughout the year she shares her projects on her site. You might enjoy her Jesse Tree ornaments. We sure do!

Here is an older page of hers that describes other Advent activities and the O Antiphons.

6. Advent is Preparation For Christmas

Here are some pages to help keep the Roman Catholic Advent Season:

Original Advent Season Prayer 

I Come To Adore Advent Prayer
~ Emily, 14, Kansas, USA

For one of our Christmas traditions I write a poem story for my family, this is the one for this year (2009).

"I Come To Adore"

The night was dark and ever so cold

Across the prairie thrashed the wind so bold.

Not a light was in the sky save one star so bright

Which shone down upon the town that holy night.

Miles away and trudging so slowly 

A figure we can see hunched so lowly.

His cloak is tattered his feet are worn

Not a hat is on his head and his clothes are all torn.

Every now and then he'll lift his face to the wind and peer,

Up at the star shining near.

Of "He Who is to come" he has from others learned

And the right to believe he has now earned.

He cares not what others think and say

Only that he'll adore and love his God this day.

Closer and closer nearer and nearer

With each mile put behind him his steps trod freer. 

Always encouraged by the star which has now taken its rest, 

Above the stable of which we know best.

A choir of angels he suddenly sees

Across the fields and over the trees

Bringing the message to all who will hear

The Lamb of God is ever so near.

Timidly he now draws near,the Baby so peacefully sleeps

The oxen and donkey are there, also the sheep

He kneels and adores with simplicity like them 

Joyful that he is with his Savior in Bethlehem.

Suddenly the Child awakes, smiling on all who are there

Into His heart begins their spiritual care.

Outside the wind, knowing His holiness now grows mild

For to the town of Bethlehem is born

Jesus the Christ child.

More Roman Catholic Advent Season Ideas

Check out these Advent prayers and printables:

* St. Anne's Helper Catholic Coloring  download has a treasure trove of traditional PDF printable coloring sheets.

* Over 200 specifically Catholic pictures.

* 300+ other fun coloring pictures of animals, seasons, patriotic, Easter and Christmas.

* All grouped into files for your convenience and all interactive.

* See coloring samples.

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