On Sunday, Dec. 1, 2020 — the fourth before Christmas– the Church’s Year begins with the season of Advent. The Church is dressed in rich purple or violet hangings, the color that symbolizes preparation and repentance. (That’s why the festal canticles Te Deum and Gloria in Excelsis are not sung in this season, and the altar flowers are muted.) Though ignored by many, Advent is a strangely thrilling season. As nature prepares for winter’s long sleep, the Church calls the soul to awake. As the days grow darker, and the light fails, the Church calls us to open our eyes to the rising of a new and glorious sun. “Behold, thy king cometh unto thee”. We look with growing hope and joy for the coming of Christ (which is what the word “advent” means). That’s why the ancient custom in Advent is to read Isaiah, the “gospel prophet”, the great witness of the coming of Christ. His advent is threefold: for he came in the past, in all humility, born in a manger to die for sinners on the cross; he will come again in the future, in all glory, to judge the world, and reap the harvest of salvation; and even now he is coming invisibly by his Spirit, wherever the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, to make believers partakers of his kingdom. Many churches and families make an Advent wreath, a circle of evergreens on which four candles are progressively lit, to symbolize the growing hope we have of Christ’s coming to “lighten the darkness of our hearts”. For Advent is not just repentance from sin, it is also rejoicing in the Savior.