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WEEKLY REFLECTIONS ONTHE SUNDAY READINGS


ADVENT | YEAR A

Waiting

Joy

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WEEKLY REFLECTIONS ON THE SUNDAY READINGS

Sister Donna L. Ciangio, OP


© 2019 RENEW International All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written consent of the publisher. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. NIHIL OBSTAT Rev. Msgr. Robert Wister, Hist.Eccl.D., S.T.M IMPRIMATUR Joseph W. Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R.

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Archbishop of Newark

Cover and interior design by Kathrine Kuo ISBN: 978-1-62063-158-4

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Contents Foreword.........................................................v The Holy Longing............................................vii Week One: The First Sunday of Advent....................1 Week Two: The Second Sunday of Advent................ 8 Week Three: The Third Sunday of Advent............... 16 Week Four: The Fourth Sunday of Advent.............. 24 Praying with the Psalms......................................32

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The O Antiphons.............................................38 APPENDIX..................................................... 41 Family Devotion: Blessing The Advent Wreath............................. 41 Family Devotion: Blessing of the Christmas Tree..........................45 The Structure and Flow of a Session..................... 50 Resources from RENEW International...................55


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FOREWORD My brothers and sisters in Christ: The Advent season seems to me to be a time for dreaming. I don’t mean dreaming of sugar plums or dreaming of a white Christmas, but rather dreaming the dream of God. It may seem odd to attribute to God a human experience such as dreaming, but the meaning of the word isn’t limited to “fantasizing”; a dream can also refer to our vision of a better future for the world, not a fantasy one but one that is possible.

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For example, I think we can say that God dreams of a world in which there is no division among people based on nationality, race, economic or social standing, religious faith, or gender—divisions that often lead to bitterness, oppression, violence, or even war. We see division all around us, maybe in our own communities or even our own families, but God dreams of something better. We hear about God’s dream through the prophet Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. … Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together. …” Advent is about anticipation. It’s the season in which we anticipate our celebration of the birth of Jesus, truly v


God and truly human. One of our carols describes that event this way: “then he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.” That’s one way to describe God’s dream, that each human soul will see in the child we are about to celebrate, and in the man that he would become, an image of what human nature can be: healer, comforter, peacemaker, source of hope. These Sunday reflections by Sister Donna L. Ciangio, OP, provide a perfect opportunity, for you personally or within a small group, to contemplate, pray, and share your faith. As you do, dream along with God about a future marked by compassion, generosity, and peace, and about the part you can play in creating it.

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May Mary, mother of the Church, pray for us. Joseph W. Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R. Archbishop of Newark  

A NOTE ABOUT THE MUSIC Musical settings are suggested for the psalms in each session. Recordings are provided by our partners at OCP. The music is available for purchase through RENEW International at www.ocp.org/renew-music. vi


The Holy Longing We pray for peace and justice for all people. We want people to have what they need to live healthy and happy lives. Lives that are productive, peaceful, filled with the necessities of life, great families and good friends. There is a deep longing in all of us for the ability to do something wonderful with the gifts that God has given us. We want to make things better, we want peace in the world, we want to eliminate hunger and disease. Advent is a time when we especially long for a beautiful and peaceful world where everyone is cherished equally and where the reign of God is enjoyed, and former enemies can co-exist and spend time with each other without harm. Edward Hicks (1780-1849) was a Quaker painter who painted the theme of the Peaceable Kingdom as described by Isaiah on the second Sunday of Advent. As a Quaker, he longed for peace and justice to reign over the land.

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Much of what we long for is the deep desire to know and be in relationship with God. You can’t have an intense relationship with God and not have a peaceful heart that wants to right the struggles of people and the world. Advent scripture calls us to examine our hearts and to change what stands in the way of our communion with God. Join with your parish small groups to explore the scripture, prayers and preparation time that is so important in this season. As we long for the coming of Christ, we prepare homes, gifts, and hearts to receive him. vii


Also, take time during these Advent days to seek some time alone with God to feed your holy longing for intimacy and communion. Use this booklet, take a walk, sit in a quiet place, enjoy the sights and sounds of the season and know that God is with us speaking to us in the depths of our being.

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WEEK ONE The First Sunday of Advent You must be prepared – the Lord is coming! ENVIRONMENT FOR A SMALL GROUP On a table in the center of your group, place a violet or dark blue cloth, a lighted candle or the Advent wreath with the first candle lit. You may want to have a votive candle for each group member to use for prayer at home. READINGS • Isaiah 2:1-5 • Psalm Response 122:1-9 • Romans 13:11-14 • Matthew 24:37-44

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ICE BREAKER

If you are meeting as a small group, introduce yourselves. • What do you do to prepare your home for Christmas? • How does it remind you that you are preparing for the coming of Jesus?

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GATHERING PRAYER All:

Loving God, You desire that we grow ever more deeply in our relationship with you. As we begin our Advent journey waiting eagerly for the coming of your Son, Jesus, bless our prayer, our contemplation, our sharing, and our service to others. Amen

LISTENING TO THE WORD If in a small group, pray together:

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Lord, be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts as we listen to your Word. If you are meeting as a small group, read each of the following passages aloud. Pause in silence before those who wish to do so share their response. READING 1: Isaiah 2:1-5

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, 2

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to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.� For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. Let us walk in the light of the Lord! They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

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Take a moment to reflect. What word, phrase, or image in this scripture passage touched your heart or spoke to your life? If you are meeting in a small group, share if you wish. PSALM: Psalm 122:1-9

You may download a musical setting for this psalm at www.ocp.org/ renew-music. If you are meeting in a small group, you may sing the refrain together. Let us go rejoicing, let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. READING 2: Romans 13:11-14 Brothers and sisters: You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; WEEK ONE: The First Sunday of Advent

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the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. Take a moment to reflect. What word, phrase, or image in this scripture passage touched your heart or spoke to your life? If you are meeting in a small group, share if you wish.

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GOSPEL: MATTHEW 24:37 - 44

Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake!

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For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Take a moment to reflect. What word, phrase, or image in this scripture passage touched your heart or spoke to your life? If you are meeting in a small group, share if you wish.

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APPRECIATING THE WORD— STAY AWAKE!

Every day, the sun rises and sets. Some days we notice it, and some days we savor it. Every day we meet people and have encounters—some are casual, and some leave us with a deeper insight into the other. Sometimes we quickly drive to our destinations, and sometimes we see the beauty of God around us in people, places, and nature. It is hard to “see” all the time. But God, through the scriptures today, asks us to slow down, to go up on the mountain and take a long, loving look at what is important in our lives and our relationship with God. As we look toward the coming of Christ and decorate our homes, prepare presents, and give to charity, we also must prepare by our prayer, our contemplation, WEEK ONE: The First Sunday of Advent

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our sharing, and our service to others. Now is the time! REFLECTION QUESTIONS • In the first reading there is a joyful call to “climb the Lord’s mountain … so that he may instruct us….” What is it that you need to hear from God this Advent? • In the reading from Romans, Paul tells us to “put on Christ.…” How do you put on Christ in your daily life, your relationships, your living out of your faith as a disciple of Jesus? • The Gospel is all about readiness—Jesus gives a stern warning – we must always be ready for the coming of the Messiah – we know not the day nor the hour. How do you consciously live in readiness?

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ACTION – LIVING OUT THE GOSPEL • How will you live out the Gospel this week? • What will you do to make the most of this season of Advent? INTERCESSIONS Christ the Lord, Son of the living God, calls us to be ready and watchful. With confidence, let us fervently pray: Come, Lord Jesus! Christ, the Light that never fades, lead us to your holy mountain — awaken our faith from sleep.

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Keep us watchful and ready — that we may greet you with joy. Give us unfailing kindness — toward everyone we meet. Help us, your disciples, to reach out to those in need and of hearing your Word in our broken world — we pray for justice and peace. For what else shall we pray? SENDING PRAYER If you are meeting in a small group, the leader begins the prayer.

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Leader: Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us! Keep us wide awake and send us forth as your disciples to enliven our world by our actions. All: May this coming week keep us watchful and ready to see you in all the people and situations we encounter. Come Lord, Jesus! Amen

Leader: Let us go forth in joy, sharing a sign of peace.

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