8 9 Advent Penance Service Father Richard Veras Greeting Advent is a time of waiting, longing, and begging. It is a time to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” We look forward to celebrating the first coming of Jesus at Christmas. We look forward with hope to the second coming of Jesus in his glory. We seek out Jesus here and now in the Mass, when he comes to us in the Eucharist. We seek out Jesus in the people and events of our lives, when he comes to us in ordinary ways. Today, as we examine our conscience and confess our sins, we ask Jesus to come to us in his mercy. For Jesus offers us a true experience of salvation here and now through the forgiveness of our sins. Hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” Opening Prayer God our Father, out of loving obedience to you, and out of love for all that you created through him, your Only Begotten Son became human and dwelt among us. He was born as a baby, just like us. He went through the joys and sufferings of living, just like us. He suffered and died and rose again, just for us. Give us hearts of repentance, so that we may weep for the one who was pierced for our sins, and rejoice as our sins and impurities are washed away. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Scripture Passage [The word of the Lord came to the Prophet Zechariah, speaking of the deliverance of God’s people:] On that day, the Lord will shield the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the weakling among them shall be like David on that day, and the house of David godlike, like an angel of the Lord before them. On that day I will seek the destruction of all nations that come against Jerusalem. I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on himwhom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn. On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness. (Zec 12:8-10; 13:1) Scripture Meditation The weakling among them shall be like David. Who is weaker than an infant without shelter? This baby, in these meager surroundings, is like David? Yes, he is like David, and like us, in all things but sin. This baby is like a king? Yes, the unimaginable King of an unimaginable kingdom. What is this kingdom? What will it be like? Will it be like the house of David? In one sense, yes, for we who follow this newborn King, this descendant of David, are nowmembers of the house of David. And the house of David will be godlike. How can this be?We are sinners! How can our unity on earth be like God on earth?

10 11 Because this new house of David, this unity, is the Church, and the Church is theMystical Body of Christ, the continuation of Christ’s presence here and now. His method is to become present in the least likely of places: in a stable, on a cross, and through the faces of sinners—but sinners who have been transformed by his saving love. Sinners who have discovered that this King is truly with us and dwells among us as we are. Our Lady must have done all she could to make those poor surroundings beautiful for her Son. Let us beg that we poor sinners who make up the Church may sincerely confess our sins and have our sins and impurities washed away, so that we, the Church, may become a place where his presence is acknowledged and welcomed. Examination of Conscience R/MCome, Lord Jesus! For the times when I forget that I need a Savior, and arrogantly conceive of myself as sufficient to myself, R/ For the times when I do not believe Jesus and instead give in to the lie that God the Father is indifferent or hostile to my well-being, R/ For the times when I trust my self-pitying accusations more than the Father’s love, R/ For the times when I desecrate the presence of Christ bymaking my own opinions, my own criteria, or my own likes and dislikes the measure for circumstances of life and other people, R/ For the times when I have shunned the presence of Christ, whether it be his sacramental presence or his presence in the people he puts in my life, R/ For the times when I have blasphemed the presence of Christ through using other human beings as things that I can manipulate for my own selfish ends, R/ For the times when I have disregarded the will of Christ through abuse of those things he has given to me for the building up of his Kingdom, R/ For the times when I justify my sinfulness and thus treat God’s mercy with disdain, R/ Closing Prayer God our Father, open to us your promised fountain of mercy, the Word made f lesh, to wash our sins and impurities away. Prepare us to welcome our Savior, who dwells among us. Pour forth, we beseech you, Father, your grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son is to be made known anew through the Sacrament of Confessionmay by his Passion and cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord.

12 13 Blessing of an Advent Wreath The use of the Advent Wreath is a traditional practice which has found its place in the Church as well as in the home. The blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on the evening before the First Sunday of Advent. Customarily the AdventWreath is constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which are inserted four candles. According to tradition, three candles are violet and the fourth is rose. However, four violet or white candles may be used. The candles represent the four weeks of Advent, and the number of candles lighted each week corresponds to the number of the current week of Advent. The rose candle is lighted on the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday. When the blessing of the Advent Wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family. All make the sign of the cross as the leader says: Our help is in the name of the Lord. R/ Who made heaven and earth. Then the Scripture is read: Listen to the words of the Prophet Isaiah: (Is 9:1-2, 5-6) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing. As they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils. For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains By judgment and justice, both now and forever. Or Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7—You, Lord, are our redeemer. Reader: The Word of the Lord. R/ Thanks be to God. With hands joined, the leader says: Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ: he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples, he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us, he is the Savior of every nation. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath. May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation. May he come quickly and not delay. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.