Art & Environment
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The liturgical color of the Advent season is purple. It is a blue-purple which is in contrast to the red-purple used for Lent. Purple not only represents penance and fasting (Lent); it also expresses royalty as we welcome the Advent of our King. The use of purple during the Advent and Lenten seasons show the connection between Christ’s birth and death. The Incarnation can never be separated or isolated from Christ’s suffering and death.
With our Blessed Mother playing a significant role in the incarnation, Advent can take on a softer more feminine feeling than other liturgical seasons. Consider using softer lines such as draping fabric instead of hanging straight up and down; utilize fabrics that have a warm texture instead of stiffer fabrics that have little flow. Another way to set the Advent tone in the space is through the use of softer lighting. Consider using candles in the narthex that symbolizes waiting and longing. Elevate the candles at different heights so as to add dimension and interest.
The color rose is introduced in the Third of Week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (meaning to rejoice). The rose colored candle on the Advent Wreath is lit and the clergy may wear rose colored vestments. It marks a shift from the more solemn tone of the first two Sundays of Advent to a more joyous atmosphere of the nearness of Christ’s birth.
In planning the church’s environment, it is a good practice to keep it simple and uncluttered. Oftentimes, this is the most challenging lesson for those who fashion the environment. Create a space that is quiet, peaceful and prayerful. This is a welcome change to the hectic and chaotic pace of the secular Christmas season.
Advent is a season filled with anticipation and hope. Allow the season to unfold naturally. Be open to adding a little something each week as we move closer to the Christmas season. The Advent Wreath should be of substantial size in proportion to the space. It should, by no means, overpower the presence of the Altar nor should its size and placement obstruct the sight line of the Ambo and Altar.
Here are some more suggestions for Advent art and environment: Icons of the voices of the season (i.e. Isaiah, Mary, John the Baptist or Elizabeth) could be displayed. Use soft fabrics that give to gentle folds. Add simple sprigs of greenery as signs of hope and growth.