Last week, Awake offered a short, moving Advent prayer service titled “Holy Darkness.” It featured four parts based on the four weeks of Advent, including music, readings, questions for reflection, and silent time for prayer and contemplation.
A recording of the 30-minute prayer service—ideal for praying at home in this last week of Advent—is available below.
“Advent is a time when the Christian community remembers the times of darkness in our lives and our world,” explained Cathy Melesky Dante, Awake chaplain, as the service began. “People who have experienced sexual abuse by Catholic leaders know darkness in a particular way. But we all know darkness through our own sufferings of loss, death, illness, and change.”
In the part of the service based on the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, the readings and reflections focused on light and joy, offering a reminder that “light does come in ways that we can’t imagine,” Dante said.
One person who attended the prayer service shared this thought with the Awake team afterward: “From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for the simple, beautiful prayer experience. It was truly such a blessing.”
Here we offer the reading and reflection questions based on the fourth week of Advent. You might also choose to take 30 minutes in these bustling days before Christmas to pray along with the recording.
A reading from Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor
To be human is to live by sunlight and moonlight. We need darkness; it is just as essential to our physical well-being as light. We not only need plenty of darkness to sleep well; we need it to be well. In other words, while we are drawn to the light, we would also be wise to understand the values of darkness, even when the darkness represents things that are uncomfortable, unfamiliar, scary, painful and even inconvenient. This leads to a first assurance of hope:
Sometimes the way out of darkness begins with our willingness to enter into the darkness.
Mary carried Jesus in her womb where he was ensconced in darkness. When you have struggled with darkness, how did you cope and find your way out? Can you envision finding goodness in darkness?
Silence (3 minutes)