1st Sunday of Advent – Year A
Lighting the first candle on the Advent Wreath

This ceremony was designed to connect this year’s Advent ceremonies with the Dominican month for peace with the focus on India.  It will further enflesh the prayer of the Dominican Order as we await the Prince of Peace.

After the entrance hymn, the celebrant and assistants proceed to the Advent Wreath while 2 readers take their place at microphone[s] in the sanctuary.  The celebrant invites the people to be seated and introduces the liturgy, speaking freely from the notes here:

Celebrant:   Intro.           [Please be seated]

  • Advent begins: The Dominican Month for Peace
    • The purpose of the Month for Peace is to promote a global Dominican solidarity with members of the Dominican family working to bring hope in situations of violence and war and to draw inspiration from their work for our own Advent preparation.
    • In the 2 previous years, the Dominican Month for Peace focused on 2 active war zones: Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
    • This year the focus is on specific Dominican projects in India. It also shifts our attention to situations characterized by structural and systemic violence rather than warfare.
      • It focuses on women, children, and indigenous peoples [or “tribals” as they are known in India] suffering from patterns of severe poverty, discrimination, abuse, and the violation of human rights.
      • It is an important reminder that peace is built upon foundations of mutual respect and justice for all.
      • The ministries of the Christ, Prince of Peace, to Whom and for Whose coming we pray in this Advent season, include the building of healthy, compassionate, and just communities, the nourishing seedbeds within which peace can emerge and flourish.
    • As we begin, let’s enter into the quiet of our spirits and ask for
      • felt solidarity with the people of India and the Dominican communities working with the poorest and most marginalized peoples in India, witnessing to the Truth of the sacred dignity of each person, working to protect and develop it.
      • And let us pray too that we may find ways this Advent to open more to the Truth of Christ that will deepen our personal peace and the peace of all in our communities.

[Short period of Silence followed by the Readers as follows:]

1st Reader:    Our Dominican family in India consists of 159 Friars, 452 Sisters, 5 Nuns, 143 Lay Dominicans, and 109 Dominican Youth.  Since the early 1990s, we have been working among the marginalized and disadvantaged sections of society, especially children, women, and indigenous peoples.

Our Project Bloom in the Nagpur District in the center of India works to rescue children and female youth from exploitative, abusive and other terrible situations – often living on the streets, begging, rummaging in waste dumps for anything they can sell or use to survive.  Sometimes we search them out and invite them to our programs; sometimes they seek us out. This is how one 16 year-old girl described herself and her situation.

2nd Reader:   “We were extremely poor. We were picking recyclable waste materials from the street corners and dumping yards and had to drop out of school. Our traditions and customs are clear, girls do not pursue higher classes and are given in marriage very early.”

1st Reader:    We found a 2nd 16 year-old girl in the hospital.  Her story:

2nd Reader:   “I always had dreams of getting educated and doing well in life. My parents have been into picking recyclable waste materials. Due to utter poverty and tradition, I was forced to drop out of school and take care of the siblings. I always wished to participate in the trainings organized by the Indian Centre for Integrated Development (ICID). I felt deprived of the opportunities for my development.  In desperation, I consumed poison and ended up in hospital.”

1st Reader:    In both cases, social workers from ICID (the Indian Centre for Integrated Development) were able to talk to the girls and their parents about a different tradition and Truth, one that proclaims the sacred dignity of each and every person as a loved child of God.  It’s the Good News that we are called to preach.  This Truth calls for different customs that free people from poverty, liberate them and celebrate their gifts.

2nd Reader:   We were able to encourage these families and offer various kinds of support for educational expenses. These girls and many others we help are now in school and are very happy.   We need to always be on the watch.  We can’t predict the day or the hour when opportunities might emerge to reach these young people with the Truth, the Good News able to free them from the lack of respect for themselves, the despair of not having a hopeful vision, the oppressive situations their culture imprisons them in.

[brief moment of reflective silence]

Celebrant:   As we hold in our hearts these desperately poor and vulnerable young people of India and our Dominican sisters and brothers working to serve them, we send them the power of our prayer in support.

Grateful for their witness and ministry, we are reminded of the poor and vulnerable among us: the desperate families seeking refuge among us, the young people trafficked in the towns and cities around us, the vulnerable women and young abused in our families and communities, the victims of racial hatred and discrimination – all among us, all longing, as their sisters and brothers in India, for the Truth that can set them free.

Lord, Have Mercy…         Christ, Have Mercy…          Lord, Have Mercy…

May almighty God have mercy on us all, forgive us all our sins, and bring us together to the fullness of life in peace.  Amen

As we light the first candle of our Advent circle of Light and of Peace,

  • we unite ourselves in solidarity with our Dominican family in India and those they serve.
  • we recommit ourselves to being centers of liberating Truth and spiritual hope, nourishment for the poorest and most vulnerable among us here at this time, in this place, and
  • we pray for the Advent grace that will open us more fully to the Truth of Christ, free us, and deepen our personal peace.

[The first candle of the Advent Wreath is lit while an Advent refrain is sung. Then the Celebrant prays:]

Celebrant:   Let us pray.  Our loving God, We pray that you will unite us in spirit, prayer and hope with our sisters and brothers in Nagpur, India, Your children so in need of solidarity, a liberating vision of hope, and peace. Their hearts and ours desire the warmth of Your love and our minds are searching for the light of Your word to lead us to Your peace.

Increase our longing for Christ, Our true Leader, and give us the strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth in peace.

We ask this in the name of Jesus our brother who came to guide us into Your peace, and in the power of Your Holy Spirit where we live and move and have our being, now and forever.   Amen.

 

James Hug, S. J.
Chaplain: Adrian Dominican Motherhouse