Pasig Holds Liturgical Conference For Advent And Christmas

by Freddie Raymundo,
Vicariate Media Representative

Rev. Fr. Daniel I. Estacio, Minister of the Diocesan Ministry of the Liturgical Affairs, called all Lay Coordinators of Worship Ministry and Heads of  its supporting committees, such as Lectors & Commentators, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Altar Servers, Music, Mother Butlers’ Guild,  and Ushers/Usherettes & Collectors, to a conference last November 24, 2012 for discussion regarding appropriate preparation for the celebration of Advent and Christmas seasons.  Fr. Daniel explained the difference between Advent liturgy and Christmas liturgy. 
He said that Advent,  adventus in Latin, means “arrival”.  In the context of the Catholic Church, Advent was first a preparation time for Christmas recalling the first coming of Christ but it was later broadened and included also the second coming of Christ at the end of time, such that the first part until December 15 looks forward to the coming of Christ at the end of time and  the second part from December 16 to 24 serves as a kind of Christmas novena. 
In his handouts, Fr. Daniel explained in detail the preparation and celebration of Advent and Christmas Seasons. 
 Advent season lasts for 4 weeks starting from the first Evening Prayer of the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, that is after celebrating the Christ the King,  and ends before the first Evening Prayer of Christmas.  
Fr. Daniel explained that the liturgy of Advent is stark, simple and sober.  As Advent, in the course of time became a penitential season, the color of the vestments  is bluer hues of violet  but rose vestment is used on the third Sunday called “Gaudete Sunday”.  The “Gloria” is not sung in the Sundays of Advent in order to sing it better on the day of Christmas.  Singing of Christmas carols should be avoided during Advent but is liturgically permitted on Christmas season.
Decoration of the altar with flowers should be done in a moderate manner during Advent and the best altar decoration is reserved for Christmas.  Advent Wreath, a round wreath as symbol of eternity and of the love of God, is placed near the ambo.  The Advent Wreath  should be of green color, symbol of hope and life, with only 4 candles interpreted as four Sundays of Advent or the four thousand years the  Jews waited for the coming of the Messiah.   Three candles are of violet color and one in rose.  Advent candles are lighted clockwise to signify the movement of time measured in our present days by a clock and should be lighted before the start of the Mass.  The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming.  The Advent Wreath should be removed prior to the first Evening Prayer of Christmas.
A Manger may be put inside the Church but not the Christmas Tree.  If ever a Christmas Tree is to be set up, it should be outside the Church.
 Dawn Masses known as Aguinaldo Masses or Missa de Gallo are Novena Masses in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Expectant Mother of God, in preparation for the commemoration of the birth of our Saviour.  Missa de Gallo is normally held at around 4:00 a.m. but in some local churches, Aguinaldo Masses are held a day ahead, starting December 15, normally in the evening.  In contrast to the sober character of Advent, these Masses are festive in character and white vestments are used even on Sunday.  If any of these days fall on Sunday, the Mass formularies and readings are those of Sunday.  “Gloria” as well as appropriate Christmas carols are sung.  The church and sanctuary are festively decorated and should only be removed until the Sunday after Epiphany.
The Philippines, compared with other Catholic nations, has the longest Christmas season.  Commercially, Christmas season begins at the start of the “ber” month.  For Catholics, Christmas season officially runs from first Evening Prayer of Christmas  until the Sunday after Epiphany or the Feast of the baptism of the Lord. 

Although the Conference was only for half-a-day, participants learned so much from and were enlightened by the detailed explanations and insights of Fr. Daniel.

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