Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent and normally the last full week of Advent. However in 2023 this is both the first and last day of Advent as today is Christmas Eve. Advent begins on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Andrew (30 November) but this year that day fell on a Thursday, meaning that the first day of Advent fell on Sunday, December 3 making it a three week Advent season.
This does not mean one does not observe it. You should light the Advent candles at dinner after reciting the prayer. And of course read the scripture readings for this day as well, If you are participating in the Christmas Novena, this is the last day of the novena. Then at midnight Advent ends and it becomes Christmas Day!
For 2024, Advent will begin on December 1 as the previous day was the feast of St. Andrew. And unlike 2023, will go the full four weeks with the last Sunday on December 22.
Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Saviour.
Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent and it is the last one of course before Christmas. Advent is a season of preparation for the birth of Jesus and not Christmas itself. While the secular world conflates the two (Advent and Christmas), the distinction is kept within the Christian church. Advent is a time of preparation for the birth so spiritual readings and vestments will reflect it. Unlike Lent which has strict observances that include fasts, Advent has no such strict requirement.
Yet it is a time for reflection as one awaits the approach of Christmas Day. In more olden times, there were fasts (it is still practiced in Eastern and Russian Orthodox where meat and dairy is prohibited for a specific period leading up to Christmas Day) but it is no longer a requirement in most Western churches. However there is a trend emerging that encourages the faithful to perhaps give up something during Advent or perform a service that benefits others (like volunteering to help feed homeless people). Music during this period also is designed to do this as well.
Come, let us rejoice in the Lord, let us acclaim God our salvation.
Let us come before him proclaiming our thanks, let us acclaim him with songs.(Psalm 95)