Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Advent Wreath

Advent Wreath QUESTION from Larry Lottier on December 30, 2002 We had four banners in a circle hanging in our narthex as our Advent wreath. Many questioned why not the candles and the lighting ceremony in the sanctuary as we have had every Advent. We were told that the wreath was not suppose to be in the sanctuary but outside. Can you shed some light so I can give an intelligent answer?
Blessings on your work,
Deacon Larry
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on January 4, 2003 Dear Rev. Mr. Lottier,
The Advent Wreath is a custom and not part of the Liturgy and so there aren't really any rules of its use or construction. However, the Book of Blessings, which has a prayer of blessing for the wreath, has a brief description that in my opinion is as good as any standard.

Customarily the Advent Wreath is constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which are inserted four candles. According to tradition, three of the candles are violet and the fourth is rose. However, four violet or white candles may also be used (Book of Blessings, 1510).
In my opinion, that which you have described is not a wreath, but I suppose that strictly it could serve the same purpose. I myself have no taste for it whatsoever since it is not established in custom.
Since it is a devotion and not liturgical, the wreath does not have a proper place in the sanctuary. However I am not aware of any official prohibition, and if it is tastefully done and not a distraction I wouldn't see a problem. (that is, no banners) Any blessing or candle lighting must take place outside of Mass.
Mr. Slavek
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