The difference between the first and second half of Advent

The third week of Advent has begun, but aside from lighting the rose candle on our Advent wreath, what else is different about this week?

Recently on Go Ask Your Father, Msgr. Stuart Swetland explained the difference between the first and second half of Advent – and what to watch for to dive deeper into the beauty of the season. Msgr. Swetland said:

“The Advent season is split between an earlier part, which sort of echoes the last part of the previous liturgical cycle when we focus on the Second Coming of Jesus. We’re thinking about the future, we’re thinking about that time when Jesus will come, escorted by the angels and saints. We’re thinking about that moment in history that will end history, and usher in once and for all the definitive Kingdom – the Kingdom of justice, and mercy, and peace. The Kingdom where the lion will lay down with the lamb. The Kingdom that will be the perfection of all things in Christ.

And our prayers and our focus for the last two weeks has been on that reality, that there will be a Second Coming. There will be a day of judgment. There will be a day when this order as we know it is passing away, and the new heaven and new earth will become real.  We long for that day, we yearn for that day, we desire that day, we look forward in hope for that day. And we pray: Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

We have been doing that for the first two weeks of Advent. With the third Sunday of Advent, that shifts. We look back in history to the first coming of Jesus. We begin in a very earnest way by looking at the historical reality of the fact that God became incarnate in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

We will look at the events leading up to His birth, we will look at the events of His birth in the Christmas season, and celebrate them as the gradual epiphany of the miracle of God’s love for us is made manifest in human history.

And a sign that we have begun that second half of Advent is the beginning of the prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, in the Evening Prayer. They are called the O Antiphons. These are the great antiphons that make up the song O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. There are seven of them leading up to December 25th and then into our Christmas season, that each highlight a different aspect of the mystery of the Incarnation.”

Find out more about the O Antiphons below:

Go Ask Your Father airs weekdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®.