Fourth Sunday of Advent, Dominican Month for Peace 2018
[As presented here, this was written to follow the entrance procession, hymn, and opening greeting at Mass. It should, of course, be adapted to fit the needs and circumstances wherever it is used.]
Presider: Gracious and loving God, we bless our Advent Wreath once again, asking that You continue to make it a sacred sign for us, one that makes us conscious of our solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Congo and in the Dominican family around the world. May this wreath, the light of Christ that it represents, and our Dominican solidarity deepen our longing for peace and nourish our trust in the coming of Your Reign in the Congo, in our nation, and all around Earth. We make our prayer in the name of Jesus and in the power of Your Holy Spirit where we live now and forever. Amen.
Presider: As we begin, let’s enter into the quiet of our spirits, conscious of the people of the Congo who have been living through decades of devastating wars, ongoing massacres, and human rights violations, asking to know the nearness of God in the tense contexts of the Congo and to recognize the seeds of Christ’s Way, seeds of peacemaking and hope being sown in our time….
[a short period of silence…]
1st Reader: The prophet Micah promised a leader who would rule Israel, standing firm by the strength of God, not by the strength of armies and weapons. He promised a leader who would BE PEACE, who would arise from a place too small to be noticed or considered important, a poor, small town called Bethlehem. That leader, the promise of our peace, came in Jesus, born in a stable in Bethlehem.
2nd Reader: Scripture scholars and theologians over the last 50 years – with our Dominican theologians Albert Nolan and Edward Schillebeeckx in the forefront early on – have been shaping a growing consensus: Jesus taught nonviolent resistance in the violent world of 1st century Palestine. Schillebeeckx and many others in our day have concluded that Jesus died because of the way he lived – nonviolent resistance. He taught peace by BEING PEACE in the way he called for peace with justice.
1st Reader: And so we look for the seeds of Peace in the small, seemingly unimportant ways and places we find people living and acting in the spirit of Christ’s way of BEING PEACE: the classroom lessons about loving everyone and respecting human rights; the small local civic discussions of how to bring about democracy, common good, peace; the public media forums and more.
2nd Reader: There are nonviolence and conflict resolution training programs going on with youth from the capital in Kinshasa to the small villages around the country. They teach about the different kinds of violence and how to manage them and keep them from escalating. They train the youth in skills for dialogue, mediation, and reconciliation. They work to build a culture of PEACE through honoring people’s dignity, through forgiveness, love, freedom, truth and justice.
1st Reader: In Uvira, in the violent Great Lakes region of Eastern Congo, a two-phase “Youth Capacity Building Project, Empowering New Generations on Active Nonviolence and Entrepreneurship” closed its second 4-week phase with a new module on “trauma healing.” The students have been active in launching a social media program to spread the message of the vitality and strength of active nonviolence to create social change. Their message is: “This is what NONVIOLENCE looks like!” and encourage people to use the Hashtag #ThisIsNonviolence. They’ve even developed a free social media primer.
2nd Reader: The young people are responding with enthusiastic energy and commitment. Some in Goma have agreed to work with police to protect human rights and promote mutual understanding and peaceful relations. Others have committed to teach their peers about peace-building, nonviolent approaches, and forgiveness. More than 200 youth have trained in active nonviolence in preparation for the December 2018 elections. May God bless their work and commitment today and in the days ahead!
Presider: That you will open our eyes and our hearts and those of our sisters and brothers in the Congo to recognize Your nearness, to believe that You are our WAY, our PEACE, and our HOPE, and feel the joy rise within us!
Lord, Have Mercy. Christ, Have Mercy. Lord, Have Mercy.
May almighty God have mercy on our sisters and brothers in the Congo and on us, forgive us all our sins, and bring us together to the fullness of life in peace. Amen.
In solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Congo, touched by their suffering and struggles and rejoicing in the presence of God and the way of Christ’s PEACE that gives us all hope, we prayerfully relight this 1stcandle of promise, a candle of hope that in the light of Christ a just leader will emerge who will lead us into the Way of Christ’s peace.
[1st Advent Wreath candle is lit]
And in solidarity, we relight the 2ndcandle of promise, a candle of prayerful hope that God will lead the people of Congo and of the world back to peace with justice and healing for all.
[2nd Advent Wreath candle is lit]
And with gratitude for the nearness of God, we light a 3rdcandle this week, a candle of rejoicing in gratitude and hope, knowing that God is near.
[3rd Advent Wreath candle is lit]
And with gratitude for the coming of Christ, our PEACE, among us, we light a 4th candle this week, a candle of commitment to bring His PEACE to every person and all situations in our lives.
[4th Advent Wreath candle is lit]
Hymn: Na nzela na lola – As long as we follow
Presider: Our loving God, We pray that You will unite us in spirit, prayer and hope with our sisters and brothers in the Congo, Your children so in need of solidarity, good leadership, healing of their communities, courage in Your presence, and Your peace.
Your eternal Word took flesh on Earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan.
Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces His glory and His PEACE, and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for His coming.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Prayer arrangement by James Hug, SJ & Karen Rossman, OP
Permission to copy and use
Photo: Courtesy of Pax Christi International Nonviolence Initiative
Used with Permission
*Lyrics for Na nzela na lola – As long as we follow