Third Sunday of Advent, Dominican Month for Peace 2018

In response to the Master General’s request this year for a Dominican Month of Peace to foster global Dominican solidarity with our brothers and sisters working to bring hope and peace to the Democratic Republic of Congo, we offer this simple ceremony integrating the Advent theme The Promise of Peace with the third of four weekly Advent Wreath lighting ceremonies.
The global Dominican Family includes approximately 25,500 Dominican Sisters of Apostolic Life in around 111 countries and their associated groups, 3,000 nuns, almost 5,000 Friars, hundreds of thousands of Dominican Laity, the Dominican International Youth Movement and Dominican Volunteers International.
As presented here, it is designed 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.  Inspired by the readings for the Third Sunday of Advent, the specific focus for this week is

The Promise of Peace:  God is Near

Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!  The Lord your God is in your midst….

 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….

[a short period of silence…]

1st Reader:      We rejoice in God’s nearness when we see the commitment of some members of the Dominican family as faithful pastoral companions and others working alongside the most vulnerable and abused people to teach them about their human rights and to stand with them in promoting those rights.

2nd Reader:      And we have to be in awe of God’s presence in the poor and vulnerable people who have the courage in such dangerous situations to step forward to learn and to promote human rights for themselves and their brothers and sisters.

1st Reader:      We celebrate God’s nearness and gift to us when we experience something like the University of Uélé’s program in civic education which, besides teaching human rights, is nurturing a democratic spirit and culture, and is promoting positive values essential for a just and peaceful society.

2nd Reader:      Its broadcasts and public discussion forums are helping people see through the lies and deceptions of their politicians and to resist them.  We recognize God’s powerful presence in the nearly 4 million Congolese people who have gone through these educational programs and are putting themselves on the line with others at the national level to demand fair and honest elections.

1st Reader:      And we see the hand of God in the Dominicans managing the Observatory for the Exploitation of Natural Resources and Investments in the Uélé Basin. That Observatory has taken on the dangerous work of protecting small-scale miners and demanding that the exploitation of natural resources by the large mining corporations also benefit the local communities.

2nd Reader:      And the presence of God is very real and near in the international solidarity of the whole extensive Dominican family around the planet in this Advent season, present to us and praying together for just leaders, peace, and the healing of the people from the visible and invisible wounds of war.  God’s presence and love are tangible in the preaching in Advent services, artwork and social media, teaching the world about our struggles and suffering, advocating for justice and peace for all Congolese people at embassies in all their nations.  And in their financial support for the programs that help us grow and build a more just society.

1st and 2nd Readers together:  In the midst of so much war and suffering, we join with full hearts in the Advent call:

“Rejoice in the Lord always! Again we say rejoice! Indeed our God is near!”

Presider:         That you will open our eyes and our hearts and those of our sisters and brothers in the Congo to recognize Your nearness 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.

Presider:         In solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Congo, touched by their suffering and struggles and rejoicing in the presence of God 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 be given 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]

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 peace.

We recall Your promises through the prophets – The promise to raise up for us leaders who will do what is just in the land, The promise to heal and free Your suffering people, bringing us back joyful, and The promise to be with us, working to win us Your justice and peace – and our hearts rejoice in Your nearness.

In our longing for Christ, Our true Leader, 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 show us Your nearness and 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.

Prayer arrangement by James Hug, SJ & Karen Rossman, OP
Permission to copy and use

Photo:   News by Adam Rokosz, OP, Official logo for the 2018 Dominican Month for Peace

*Lyrics for Na nzela na lola – As long as we follow

*Video of community learning and singing Na nzela na lola – As long as we follow