Advent Wreath at St Thomas
Ted Brakob / University of St. Thomas

This Advent Season, 'Open Our Hearts'

As twinkling holiday lights and decorations go up on the homes around us, as well as across campus, the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day have a deeper religious meaning. It's Advent season. This year it starts on Sunday, Nov. 28.

In Catholicism, Advent is a time for preparation and celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ. The origin of the word "advent" is from the Latin adventus, which translates to "coming" or "arrival." But the meaning goes beyond that. Father Chris Collins, vice president for mission at St. Thomas, explains:

Father Christopher Collins
Father Christopher Collins

"Blessings to all the members of the St Thomas community who will be celebrating Advent starting Sunday! Advent means 'coming toward,' as in God coming toward us, in the flesh in the person of Jesus in order to dwell among us and share every aspect of our lives. God enters into solidarity with the whole human family in the most radical way. Above all, this reassures us, we are loved and we are never alone! In these four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas may we all open up our hearts to that most intimate love that God has for each and everyone of us!"

Advent is a favorite time for Father John Ubel, rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

“We had some interesting ways of preparing for Christmas when I was growing up (in St. Paul),” Ubel told The Catholic Spirit magazine. “We always had the Advent calendar, and there was always a piece of candy with each day. That was always fun to unfold that and see who got the piece of candy.”

Another tradition Ubel experienced was putting out a Nativity scene and leaving the manger empty until Christmas Day.

Do you have special memories or rituals for celebrating Advent? If so, share this post on social media along with the stories of your Advent tradition.