Posts Tagged ‘Advent’

Waiting for a Message of Hope

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

We are now entering Advent, the four Sundays of preparation before we celebrate the birth of Our Savior. For most of us, December is a busy month of shopping, cooking and baking, entertaining, traveling, and savoring time with our families.

I ask to you to take a moment in the midst of it all to ponder what “advent” means. The word’s origins are in the Latin word for “coming.” It means the arrival of something notable or important, such as the advent of the printing press, television or the internet. You get the idea.

In the Catholic Church, Advent points toward the arrival of the most notable and important event—the coming of Christ. It is a time of preparation, expectation and waiting, which are reflected in the liturgies and rituals.

So in the hustle and bustle of the season, slow down for a few minutes. Let your mind and your soul contemplate the expectation. Let them wait.

In our contemplation we can glimpse fleetingly the experience of people 2 millennia ago—the fear and despair of a world that God seemed to have abandoned and the hope that something was about to happen that would change everything.

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Advent Reflection, Week 4, Day 6

Friday, December 25th, 2009
Dawn breaking

Dawn is breaking in Madagascar. Photo by David Snyder/CRS

Today’s Readings

Reflect: Today we celebrate not only the birth of Jesus, but also the new birth of ourselves as doers and receivers of Jesus’ work. May we find peace and Divine happiness in our hearts and minds. May we honor each other and make known our holy desires. In solidarity and remembrance with those suffering throughout the world today, we pray:

Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.
–Frank Borman, Commander of the Apollo 8 space mission
(Borman, a Christian, is famous for his reading of the Book of Genesis in space, December 24th, 1968.)

Act: Share an act of affection with a family member today.

Advent Reflection, Week 4, Day 4

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
Burundi food

Waiting for food distribution in Burundi. Photo by Martin Lueders for CRS

Today’s Readings

Reflect: In the Gospel of Luke today, Elizabeth has unflinching faith in naming her son. How often are we able to witness such acts–or engage in them ourselves? How can we work toward expressing our love in deeds, rather than words? Today, acknowledge the desires of our own heart, remembering that you are held in hand of the Lord.

Pray: Read the First Reading from the book of Malachi in today’s readings. Then pray with song.

Act: Consider an act of the heart this Christmas. Donate to CRS’ Footsteps in Faith program.

Advent Reflection, Week 4, Day 3

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
Bethlehem Church

Church and cedar tree in Bethlehem. Photo by David Snyder/CRS

Today’s Readings

Reflect: Take a minute today to look outside and take in your surroundings. Though our land environments differ, we all share the same sky. You gaze at the same moon that an AIDS orphan in Zambia gazes at. Our current winter season might be quite cold, just as it was the cold and rainy season during Jesus’ birth. Take time to particularly notice the sun and moon–where they are in the sky and how their light makes you feel. Today, contemplate the integrity of all creation.

Pray: God speaks: the heavens are made; God breathes: the stars shine. God bottles the waters of the sea and stores them in the deep. All earth, be astounded, stand in awe of God. (“Earth Ministry” prayer)

Act: Join other Catholics in taking a role in the protection of the natural world through advocating on behalf of people in poverty.

Advent Reflection, Week 4, Day 2

Monday, December 21st, 2009
Zimbabwe farmer

Sipiwe, a 40-year-old widow and mother of three, practicing conservation agriculture to increase her harvest. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

Today’s Readings

Reflect: Most likely, we are spending this week in preparation; preparing for family, friends, feasting and presents. As we plan, let us be mindful of our reason and purpose. As we participate in Christmas traditions, we can convey hope for a just and peaceful community. In these last few anticipatory days, we dwell in not just the possibility, but also the reality, of Jesus.

Pray: Pray the traditional, “O Antiphons” today. “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.” Amen.

Act: Attend an Eucharistic adoration sometime before the new year. To find one in your community, search here.

Advent Reflection, Week 4, Day 1

Sunday, December 20th, 2009
Korean welcome

Young boys greeting a CRS visitor in North Korea. Photo by Chris Arthen/CRS

Today’s Readings

Reflect: Today begins our last week of Advent and our seasonal journey of deeper reflection on solidarity, hope and spiritual transformation. In five days, we joyously welcome the baby Jesus. We may look upon his birth, perhaps, as a symbol of peaceful reconciliation amongst nations–a confirmation of humanity’s goodwill. This week, we are grateful for the universal depth of Jesus’ love for us. Let us share that love with each other today.

Pray: Ever-loving God, grant me the peace and humility to welcome your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Act: Click here to watch a moving video on the impact of your generosity to CRS:

Advent Reflection, Week 3, Day 7

Saturday, December 19th, 2009
Kenya Waterfall

Evidence of God’s presence in Kenya. Photo by Kim Burgo/CRS

Today’s Readings

Reflect: Our world is a striking recipe of the human and natural made. All of us have material possessions that are important to us, from the simple and inexpensive to the extravagant and costly. When we think of what is truly important to us, most of us can separate our material wants from emotional needs. As we go about our day, let us reflect on the material things around us and contrast our possessions to those of someone living in poverty. Let our reflection not only be a reminder of the world’s inequities, but also of humanity’s common needs.

Pray: Lord, you satisfy my hungry heart. I will honor you through my commitment to and care of others, whether they be my family or a stranger. Amen.

Act: For the remainder of Advent, perform an everyday act of kindness such as letting someone go ahead of you in a line; filling up a parking meter, giving an unexpected compliment; sending a handwritten holiday card to a new friend.

Advent Reflection, Week 3, Day 6

Friday, December 18th, 2009
seed fair

Children of farmers, on their way to visit a seed fair in Zambia. Photo by Sean Sprague for CRS

Today’s Readings

Reflect: Approximately 1/3 of the world’s population lives in some form of poverty (living on less than $2 daily). Even if we do not directly feel the effects of poverty, we have seen images of its existence. We know God’s will, but sometimes it is difficult to feel God’s presence. As we ponder the hardships of poverty, let us feel a union to those who are poor: one that inspires us to pray and act with passion and hope.

Pray: Holy Spirit, strengthen me to see what you see and hear what you hear. Deepen my desire to act faithfully and with kindness, throughout Advent and beyond. Amen.

Act: Read about the empowerment of seed fairs, authored by CRS President Ken Hackett: http://crs-blog.org/empowering-farmers-through-seed-fairs/
Remember rural framers in your prayer today.

Advent Reflections, Week 3, Day 5

Thursday, December 17th, 2009
family meal

María, an indigenous Guatemalan, prepares a meal for her family with food supplements they received from a CRS program. Guatemala has the highest levels of malnutrition in Latin America. Photo by Sara Fajardo/CRS

Today’s Readings

Reflect: Advent means “to come to”. When we light our Advent candles, it seems quite obvious what is forthcoming. In holy discernment, what are you coming to this season–or what have you brought to others? Even in the vastness of our worldly lives, we can feel God’s love for us through prayer and solidarity. Let us actively seek prudence and understanding amongst one another, for only then can we walk in the way of God.

Pray: In the words of Pope John Paul II: Mary, Queen of Peace, save us all, who have so much trust in you, from wars, hatred and oppression. Make us all learn to live in peace and educate ourselves for peace; do what is demanded by justice, and respect the rights of every person, so that peace may be firmly established. Amen.

Act: Today, fast between meals. In your hunger, pray for the poor throughout the world.

Advent Reflection, Week 3, Day 4

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
refugee water

South American farmers tending to their livelihood. Photo by Richard Lord for CRS

Today’s Readings

Reflect: Advent is a time of waiting and patience, in our daily and faithful lives. Our journey could be compared to that of a refugee: traveling many weeks, then arriving at our destination, only to anxiously await the promise of what comes next. For refugees, the arrival is about survival into new life; for Christians, the arrival centers on Christ’s birth and the promise of a God who leads us to new life. As we come closer to December 25th, we remember the rich traditions that accompany our journeys and arrivals and that teach us about our expectations and hopes. Instead of hoping for presents, let us instead hope for presence – giving birth to Christ’s presence in our hearts and in our world. Let us pray for a world that will one day be transformed into a full reflection of the Kingdom of God.

Pray: Pray the “Prayer of St. Francis” aloud.

Act: If you participate in a “Secret Santa” gift exchange this season, consider giving (when appropriate) a handwritten prayer or an hour of volunteer time for your recipient.