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Advent Prayer Service

Joan Mahoney, CND

Dear Sisters,

An Associate suggested that the theme for Advent this year should be “Face our fears and vulnerabilities.” In our Congrégation de Notre-Dame orientation, that sentence follows “Live interculturality” and certainly pertains also to “Go to the peripheries.”

Another suggestion from an associate was to reach out and form “Circles of Hospitality” in true Visitation spirit. Individually or as a group, we might want to invite people we know who are immigrants or of different ethnicities, religions, political persuasions than ours to share coffee and a conversation or join groups who are doing this, e.g. Interfaith services, immigrant rights, etc.

The hope of Advent is that the Incarnation is both present and coming. This hope calls us to “Face our fears and vulnerabilities.” We believe the variety of readings in this prayer service for Advent invite us to face our fears and uncertainties with hope. If you are doing in a group, you may wish to choose only certain readings.

Peace and Hope,

Regina Smith and Joan Mahoney, CND, Co-Coordinators of the Associate Relationship, Blessed Sacrament Province

Advent 2016 Prayer Service

Song: Advent hymn or The More I Follow You without Fear on Ave, Kathleen Deignan, CND


Refrain: The more I follow You without fear, the more will You protect me.

The more I do Your will, the more will You make known to me Your love.

The Holy One is a faithful God; a father God is he, or God has sheltered me with his hand:

He will not prove untrue to me.


The Holy One is a mighty God: a mother God is she or God has fed me with her own hand:

She will not prove untrue to me.


The Holy One is a blessed God, a brother God is He.

For God has led me with His own hand: He will not prove untrue to me.


The Holy One is a magic God, a mystic Trinity, who draws me into a deep embrace

and will not prove untrue to me.

Opening Prayer: O God whom we know because we have known love, we need you to come into our lives. We call you Father and name your son as Lord and yet little changes. Day by day we show how small is our belief unless we happen to be dying, or afraid. Help us to live in your presence. Help us, by this prayer to know you as life and goodness, the Lord of every day. Amen.

A Reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 35:3-7

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy.

Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs.

*Blessed Is She Who Believed”, a reflection by Walter J. Burghardt

We must be men and women of ceaseless hope, because only tomorrow can today’s human and Christian promise be realized; and every tomorrow will have its own tomorrow, world without end. Every human act, every Christian act, is an act of hope. But that means we must be men and women of the present; we must live this moment, really live it, not just endure it – because this very moment, for all its imperfection and frustration, because of its imperfection and frustration is pregnant with all sorts of possibilities, is pregnant with the future, is pregnant with love, is pregnant with Christ)

A reading from Luke (1:26-38)

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Advent Reflection on the Annunciation, 2014, Jennifer Hollis, CND Associate

At times in our lives, we may be “greatly troubled” or “filled with fear” in delivering a message, receiving a message and celebrating the message. We become the rugged rocks along the Quonnie shores. But the realization that we are all -- perfectly, imperfect -- gets us to move through the story. As Sharon (Norton) quoted the Leonard Cohen Anthem, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” It is the lived experience and walking together through the good times and the bad that ultimately gets us to move past the fear and collectively celebrate the “Yes” which is Christmas. We all just need to trust in ourselves and others that we can, indeed, get to the “Yes”.

*We Are Harbingers of Hope, by Melanie Svoloda, SND

It is easy to dismiss these Advent readings as so much pie in the sky. It is easy to adopt a cynical attitude. What is cynicism? In short, it is the belief that a better world is not possible. But such an attitude is diametrically opposed to our Christian faith. Advent reminds us, if we Christians are anything, we are believers in a better world. We are harbingers of hope. We can afford to adopt this stance not because we are so good and strong in ourselves. But rather, because we trust in God’s power working through us. And another name for God’s power is love. God, I believe a better world is possible. And I know it starts with your love working through me.

Marguerite’s last voyage back from France in Brave Beginnings by Patricia Simpson, CND

When four enemy ships were sighted on the horizon, the passengers panicked and an appeal was made to Marguerite to establish calm. To the captain’s relief she did so. “If we are captured she told her fellow travelers, we will be taken to Holland or England and we will find God there since God is everywhere.” The enemy ships disappeared from the horizon and the French ship was able to finish the voyage in safety.

Contemplative Reflection – 15-20 minutes

What are phrases that touch into who I am this Advent?

What are the fears and uncertainties that I carry this Advent?

Be with your God in your fears and uncertainties. How is God with you?

Who are those in my communities who are fearful, uncertain? How can I reach out to them? How can we reach out to them?



Closing Prayer: *Gentle Us Open”

Lord of Life and Light, help us not to fall in love with the darkness that separates us from you and from each other, but to watch large-eyed, wide hearted, openhanded, eager minded for you, to dream and hunger and squint and pray for the light of you and life for each other.

Open us, Lord of miracles of the ordinary to the breath giving, heart pounding wonder of birth,

a mother’s fierce love, a father’s tender fidelities that we may be born anew ourselves

into the “don’t be afraid” fullness of your image, the fullness of a just and joyful human community, the fullness of your kingdom, In the fullness of your time; through the eternal grace of your son, our brother Jesus. Amen. (from My Heart in My Mouth, by Ted Loder)

Song: Advent hymn or Mary’s Alleluia on Ave, Kathleen Deignan, CND

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Blessed am I, your humble handmaid, if I live believing that the promises of the Lord will be fulfilled.

Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, for your firm believing

that the promises of the Lord would be fulfilled.

Blessed are we, your faithful people, if we live believing that the promises of the Lord will be fulfilled. 


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