In section: Prayers and Reflections

Celebration of Advent 2017

CALL TO PRAYER

We enter into the season of Advent in the presence of Mary awaiting her child. In the person of Mary, waiting for the birth of Jesus, tradition recognizes a figure of the Church waiting for the fulfillment of the promises. The Church is all Christians, and therefore each of us is a member of the waiting church. Advent recalls the waiting for the birth of the Savior in the flesh. But what are we waiting for? Do we dare to believe that our God became incarnate in the person of his Son who lived in the midst of our human reality?

LET US CONTEMPLATE MARY RESPONDING TO THE VISIT OF THE ANGEL GABRIEL

Mary, it is so that neither God nor neighbors are made to wait 
that you set out in haste.
God's visit of love to the world 
is immediately transformed, through you, into service. 
Servant of the Lord,
you are, at the same time, the servant of humanity.
You go in great haste because love fills you with joy.

As the new Eve, you run, 
transported by the One you carry within you,
and you eagerly offer to the world the blessed fruit of your womb.

Holy Mary, share with us this love
that causes you to set out in haste,
which urgently calls you to go to your cousin
in order to share with her the Good News.
Share with us your eagerness to encounter God and neighbor with love and joy.

Rejoice, Mary, you who, according to St. Luke,
are going to the “hill country".
You travel on roads steep and difficult, rocky and unfriendly -
you, the sinless young woman,
surprised at evil and moved by compassion.

You set out on bumpy trails leading to the center of villages, 
and opening, as always, paths to your Son.
Towards the pot-holed paths 
of the old world, waiting for its spring
-which you bear and which will be born in you -
you set out, the Woman announced beforehand,
younger than the ancient world of sin.

Towards our paths both difficult and steep,
hostile and dangerous, you come.
In the midst of our troubles you reveal to us God’s dream for us,
a dream already fulfilled in you, a marvel of true humanity.

Holy Mary, be truly present to us
so that the difficulties of the road do not hold us back
from responding to the calls of our neighbor. 
Our Lady of the Visitation,
grant that we may set out each day, in great haste,
to be of service to our neighbor.
Adapted and translated from a prayer by P. Quiavrac'h, smm

LET US LISTEN to the stories of two individuals in the Bible.

• "I am Anne. I am one of those discreet women of the Bible about whom we have heard so little, whose words have not necessarily been remembered. In the Gospel, all that is said of me is that I “spoke of the child”. Yet I am called a prophetess. I carry, under the burden of the ages, a new word filled with hope for life. Many are the hours I spent day and night, discreetly, in the labyrinths of the Temple, waiting for the One who was to come. Day and night, I prayed and fasted in the hope of the promise. My body, having become barren, carried in waiting a Word that needed to be fulfilled. Like Mary and Elizabeth, today I tremble with hope. Like them, I perceived that this child would overturn history. From his time on, the world would be divided between those who see hope in this child and who dare to believe in him and those who no longer hope for anything. "
Translated from Oser le dire, Novalis Lumen vitae, Ottawa, 2006, p. 88 
 
• Imagine people's looks when they saw this man coming down through the roof! They were already suffocating in this house, packed in like sardines, so much so that "there was no more room, even in front of the door". And then here comes another one – descending from the sky and, what’s more, on a stretcher! He’s even paralyzed, which means he’s a sinner, excluded. How does he dare to come here? They have seen it all! The “gang of four” must really care about their friend to bring him like this to Jesus, “breaking and entering” despite the protests of the crowd. 
 
"Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old,” Isaiah had already said. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”  Isaiah 43: 18-19
 
Surely, they see him - the paralytic returning home whistling happily, with the stretcher under his arm… 
Translated paraphrase of Mark  2,4  Éloge de la fragilité. Gabriel Ringlet p. 184-186
 
SILENCE AND SHARING
In what would you like to believe?
 
Where are you on the continuum of daring to believe God will be faithful to his promise for a new world?
 
In what do we dare to believe during this Advent season?
 

INTERCESSIONS

Mary, hear the cry of mothers all over the world, worried about the health and safety of their children. Grant them perseverance and open their hearts to the presence of the Breath of Life dwelling within them.
R. Mary, our Mother, hear us.
 
Mary, may the song of the poor and the oppressed, the song of those who serve but are not served, grow within us. At the memory of God’s coming among us, may we raise a song of love for the world.
R. Mary, our Mother, hear us.
 
Lord, when our faith shows signs of weakening, grant us the audacity to believe despite doubts and appearances. Strengthen us to open ourselves to the newness that you can bring into our lives as you did in the life of your Son Jesus.
R. God of renewal, hear us.
 
Lord, open our hearts to the needs of those around us so that, through our concern, we may be signs of your presence to them.
R. God of compassion, hear us.
 
Lord, we entrust to you the new generation with its desires to live fully in a world where everything becomes possible if we build it together, with values of truth, solidarity and openness. 
R. God of the impossible, hear us.
 
Lord Jesus, in you all people are brothers and sisters. Build between us bonds and a heartfelt dialogue which contribute to each one’s well-being and to the coming of the Kingdom.
R. Lord Jesus, hear us.
 

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord,
You never cease calling us to transformation.
The time has come, give us a sign
during this time of waiting.
 
We turn our eyes to you.
We walk the road that you have mapped out for us.
During this time, we find you, our God,
are closer to us, rather than farther away.
 
Renew our minds.
Come and make our hearts beat
with the same rhythm as yours.
Give us patience 
so that we do not succumb to discouragement.
 
You are our hope.
You fulfill your promises,
and we steadfastly await 
the new heavens and the new earth
where justice and peace will meet.
 
Henceforth, You invite us 
to prepare your way in our hearts,
to dare to believe in your presence among us.
 
Lord Jesus,
take your rightful place in our lives;
we are so much in need of a love like yours.
Amen.
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