Happy Holidays Everyone!

Before we head to break I wanted to bring to your attention some information during this Advent season.

What is Advent you may ask? Advent is a time in the church where we are awaiting the coming of Christ. We countdown the weeks by lighting the candles on our advent wreath. The colors of the candles are purple and pink.

Purple represents a time of prayer while pink represents joy.

The first candle lit is a purple one, which represents hope.

The second candle is also purple and represents Bethlehem.

The third candle is pink and represents the shepherds.

The fourth and final candle is called The Angel’s Candle, it is a reminder of the message from the angels, “Peace on Earth, and Goodwill towards men”.

Today, I want to discuss a specific branch of Christianity, Catholicism. I bring attention to the time of Advent because it is one of the most important holidays in the Catholic church along with Lent.

I grew up going to Catholic schools K-12 and it has been central to my personal upbringing. When I came to Biola I was shocked at how many different things were different between my experience of the church and that of my peers. In this, I want to bring attention to some ways Catholic tradition differs from the protestant tradition and also clarify some misconceptions about Catholicism.

For starters, we have seven sacraments which include:

  • Baptism (Typically at a younger age)

  • Reconciliation/Confession (relieves us from our sins and ultimately strengthens our relationship with Christ)

  • Communion/Eucharist

  • Confirmation (Being set in the church, similar to baptism but you do this at an older age)

  • Anointing of the sick (Healing)

  • Matrimony/Marriage

  • Holy Orders (If choosing to join the church)

In a typical Catholic’s life, you will fulfill five of the seven sacraments. Holy Orders are only done if you choose to become a Priest or Sister/Nun.

Unlike in Christian churches priests cannot be married, if they are widowed and have families it is allowed but after joining the church it is not accepted, unlike pastors.Sisters/Nuns are also held to the same standard. When you fulfill holy orders you become in a way married to the church.

With this, we also have specific prayers we recite such as the Hail Mary or Our Father. Yes we pray like we are talking to the Lord, but when we pray things like the rosary we use formal prayers. I will link a video on how to pray the rosary if anyone is interested! It takes a while but it feels so fulfilling afterward.

Within this we have our Saints, it is a common misconception that Catholics worship saints on the same level as Christ. That is far from true. When we “pray to the saints” or call upon them we are not praying TO them we are asking them to pray WITH us!

For example, there is a patron saint for everything! When I lose my keys or my wallet I say a little prayer and ask St. Anthony to help me remember where I had placed those items. Saints are our guides on a spiritual level. Christ has so many things to attend to, you don’t think he has some backup? That’s exactly who the saints are!

With Saints come feast days. That can be their actual birthday, the day they became martyrs, or the day they were declared saints. For example, St. Francis (Patron saint of animals) Feast day is October 4th! That day Mass is dedicated to him and typically there is a blessing of the animals where you can bring all your pets to be blessed by the priest.

There is so much more I can go on about but I just wanted to share how much our cultures have different practices but we have the same mission, to praise Christ! If you’re ever interested in learning more about the Catholic Church or hearing about my experiences feel free to message me on Instagram @kailebravo or find me on campus!

Link to rosary prayer!