Advent candles shine brightly in the midst of darkness, symbolizing and reminding us that Jesus came as Light into our dark world. The psalmist spoke of God as light: “The LORD is my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1); and the prophet promised, “The LORD will be your everlasting light” (Isaiah 60:19). Light stood for the glory of God. Prophecies also spoke of the Messiah as light: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). And the prophet Simeon hailed the child Jesus as “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” We often think of Jesus as our light. John begins his Gospel with “the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9). In the Nicene Creed, we call Jesus “Light from Light.” Now in this advent season we light the candles one by one every week which reminds us that God is our light who has the ultimate power to remove the darkness, which is caused by our ignorance and sinfulness, and He can brighten our lives.
The most common Advent candle tradition, however, involves four candles around the wreath. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Each candle represents something different, although traditions vary. Often, the first, second, and fourth candles are purple; the third candle is pink-colored and in the middle a white candle. The fifth white candle is placed in the middle of the wreath and is lit on Christmas Day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
The advent candles and their colors are packed with rich meaning. Each represents a specific aspect of spiritual preparation for Christmas. Purple symbolizes repentance and royalty. Pink represents joy and rejoicing. And white stands for purity and light. Each candle carries a specific name as well. The first purple candle is called the Prophecy Candle or Candle of Hope. The second purple candle is the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation. The third (pink) candle is the Shepherd Candle or Candle of Joy. The fourth candle, a purple one, is called the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. And the last (white) candle is the Christ Candle.
So when we light each candle it admonishes us that we are getting closer to celebrate Christ birth and the urgency to remove the darkness from our lives, and prepare a place for JESUS to be born. The best way to invite Christ’s light is the reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation. By doing this, Christ through his saving grace renews our lives by rekindling his everlasting light upon us. So this advent season let us make a good Confession because darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that.