Last night’s third adult Advent group began with John O’Donohue’s poem, ‘For Peace’:
As the fever of day calms toward twilight
May all that is strained in us come to ease
We pray for all who suffer violence today,
May an unexpected serenity surprise them
For those who risk their lives every day for peace,
May their hearts glimpse providence at the heart of history.
That those who make riches from violence and war
Might hear in their dreams the cries of the lost
That we might see through our fear of each other
A new vision to heal our fatal attraction to aggression.
That those who enjoy the privilege of peace
Might not forget their tormented brothers and sisters.
That the wolf might lie down with the lamb,
That our swords be beaten into ploughshares
And no hurt or harm be done
Anywhere along the Holy Mountain.
We reviewed the previous sessions, sifting through our memories to get a feel for what God has been doing. We took this with us as we moved in to our first discussion we read the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent and the following quotes by Blessed John Paul II:
“The Church’s love of preference for the poor is wonderfully inscribed in Mary’s Magnificat. Mary proclaims the coming of the ‘Messiah of the poor’ (cf. Is 11:4, 61:1), casting down the mighty, filling the hungry with good things, sending the rich away, scattering the proud-hearted, and merciful on those who hear God. These two messages contained in the Magnificat cannot be separated; they are intimately connected with the Christian meaning of freedom and liberation” (Redemptoris mater, no.37).
“The teaching and spreading of her social doctrine are part of the Church’s evangelizing mission. And since it is a doctrine aimed at guiding people’s behaviour, it consequently gives rise to a commitment to justice, in accordance with each individual’s role, vocation and circumstances” (Sollicitudo rei socialis, no. 41).
The second part of the evening looked at the Old testamne treading from Zephaniah and the Collect:
O God, who see how your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Amen
To complete our time together, holding candles, we did an Examen in silence, and finished by praying another John O’Donohue poem, ‘For an occasion of celebration’:
Now is the time to free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self,
Awaken to the wonder of your life.
Open your eyes and see the friends
Whose hearts recognize your face as kin,
Those whose kindness is watchful and near,
Encouraging you to live everything here.
See the gifts the years have given,
Things your effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.
(Both of these poems are taken from John O’Donohue’s book “Benedictus: A book of Blessings“)
As with the other sessions, these are just the materials we used and a reflection will follow.