1st Sunday of Advent – Year B
Lighting the first candle on the Advent Wreath
This ceremony was designed to connect this year’s Advent ceremonies in the pandemic-stricken and deeply divided U.S. with the Dominican month for peace with the focus on Ukraine. It will further enflesh the prayer and ministry of the Dominican Order as a call to raise up peacemakers as we await the Prince of Peace.
Entrance and Advent Wreath Lighting Following the opening hymn and greeting:
Celebrant: As we begin our Advent Season of prayer and preparation, we come before God at a difficult and trying time. So let us enter into the quiet of our spirits, praying from our hearts:
Gracious and Loving God, You gave us Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to show us in his life and teaching, his death and resurrection the Way to bring about Your peace on Earth. We thank you for the gift of Jesus in our history, in our lives.
Still, as we come to this Advent time of watching, waiting, expectation and hope, we are weary, terribly divided, and worn down.
We are faced with the deep and hostile divisions that cut through our nation.
We are poisoned by conscious and constant disregard for truth and justice for all.
We are confronted by harsh and blatant racism, unfathomable cruelty and brutality.
We are tired of restrictions and cautions confining us in this time of pandemic.
We are exhausted by the always-present fear of this invisible, deadly virus, by the sky-rocketing infection rates, intense suffering, and devastating numbers of deaths.
We are anxious in the face of job losses, economic insecurity, hunger, evictions, and homelessness.
Reader: As we enter this Advent, we are also conscious of our Dominican sisters and brothers ministering in the war-ravaged nation of Ukraine. They and their people too are weary, divided, and worn down.
They too are faced with the brutal hostilities that divide their nation.
They too are poisoned by the conscious and constant disregard for truth and justice.
They too are confronted by harsh ethnic discrimination, unfathomable cruelty and brutality.
Their nation too is experiencing rapidly rising numbers of Covid infections and deaths.
They too are tired of restrictions needed to protect them from the pandemic and the war.
They too are exhausted by the always-present fear of sudden, painful suffering and death from the virus and from the shells and bombs that rain down on their homes.
They too are anxious in the economic insecurity, hunger and homelessness in their nation.
These Dominican sisters and brothers have begun a ministry to train community facilitators of reconciliation to work with people of different nationalities and religions.
[Acolyte takes the flame from the Paschal candle and proceeds to the Advent Wreath.]
Celebrant: As we light this first Advent Candle, we pray in solidarity with them for the fruitfulness of their work. And we pray that we too may embrace the mission to become peacemakers by working for reconciliation across the divisions of our nation.
We pray for the light to see our own need for conversion and healing and for the grace to embrace it as a first step toward reconciliation.
We pray for the grace to build confidently upon the foundation of our reconciliation with God in Christ.
And we pray to be alert and watchful for opportunities to build bridges of understanding and reconciliation, to help bring to birth communities of healing and peace in the Spirit of our Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus, the Lord. Amen.
[The first candle is lit and a Kyrie is sung.]
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 Ukraine, Your children so in need of solidarity, of a liberating vision of hope, and of 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 Peacemaker, 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 E. Hug, S.J.