Sunday of the first week of Advent
Lighting the Way for Hope
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.” Jeremiah 33:14.
The first week of Advent calls us to reflect on hope. It shouldn’t be surprising that the first line of the first reading this Sunday is focused on hope. More concretely, the hope and belief that God will fulfill the promises He made to the faithful. As the Advent season begins this year, it is vital that we remember this is a season of joyful anticipation and preparation for Christmas. Since Christ himself is the hope of the world, it makes perfect sense to begin our preparations by examining hope more closely.
Merriam-Webster defines hope as “a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” It is a cornerstone of our Christian faith and teachings. So how do we best channel our hopes during this Advent season? I would argue that we must first remind ourselves of what hope truly is. Hope is often considered a misunderstood virtue. The Catechism offers clarity and describes it as the “virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our strength, but the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
When I find hope difficult to muster or maintain, I remember the example of the Blessed Mother. Mary’s virtuous reaction to the news brought to her by the archangel Gabriel is the perfect example of placing trust in God and waiting for the fulfillment of His promises to her. A next to impossible act to follow for sure, yet great inspiration for keeping myself looking forward to Jesus’ coming.
During this first week of Advent, I sincerely hope that you find yourself renewed in your faith as you prepare for Christmas.
I sense your power, your might
and I stand in awe, painfully aware
of how poor and weak I am before you.
As I begin this Advent journey,
teach me to turn to you in my fear and sorrow.
I don’t want to keep making my heart hard against you
turning a deaf ear to your invitation.
Only you can help me to soften,
to be like the clay in your gentle potter’s hands.
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
SOURCE: Creighton University Online Ministries
As part of the Advent celebration we have included a prayer for the weekly Advent wreath candle lighting. Make this part of your family Advent practices by creating your own Advent wreath (3 purple candles and 1 pink for week three). Light the first candle of the wreath after saying the prayer below.
Prayers for Lighting the Advent Wreath Candles
All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever. Amen