Tips for Praying with Scripture
During these Advent reflections, you are asked to read and pray with scripture, and then talk about your experience with your sponsor or another spiritual companion. Begin by reading aloud the brief scripture passage. Listen carefully for a word or verse that stands out for you as you hear the Word of God. Without any explanation, write down or highlight a word or verse from the scripture passage that touches your heart.
Read the same scripture passage again. What characters or viewpoints do you relate to? Think about how this scripture passage is speaking to your life at this very moment. Write down a statement that expresses that insight. Examples may include: I feel, I think, I hear, I know, I wonder, I imagine, etc.
Now read the same scripture passage a third time. What is God asking you to do today because of what you have read? Share with your spiritual companion your response to how God is calling you through the Holy Spirit dwelling within you to follow Jesus. You may want to journal your response as a prayer of petition, adoration, praise, or thanksgiving. Continue to contemplate the scripture throughout the day.
All of the readings in this booklet are taken from the Sunday readings for each Mass for the four weeks of Advent. You can read them directly form the Bible, or find them below.
First Sunday of Advent (Nov. 29th)
Using the suggestions on page 2 of this booklet, prayerfully read and reflect on this week’s Gospel reading for Mass, either from your Bible, the U.S. Bishop’s website (usccb.org), or the Newman web page for these readings. Use the questions below to further reflect on these readings and your own life, and write down as much as you can of your thoughts. If you have time, you can also look at the readings form the Old Testament and New Testament letters (or epistles).
Schedule a time to get together (in person, by zoom, or on the phone) with your sponsor or spiritual companion to talk about your answers to each of the questions.
Mark Chapter 13, verses 33-37.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
Isaiah Chapter 63, verse 16 to Chapter 64, verse 7.
Psalm 80, verses 1-19.
1 Corinthians Chapter 1, verses 3-9.
Reflection Questions for First Sunday of Advent
1. When was a time in your life when you were waiting for something important to happen? How did that make you feel? What can that experience teach you about waiting for Christ’s coming?
2. When and how has God been present in your life? In what ways or places do you want him to come more fully into your life? How are you waiting and watching for that to happen?
3. Why doesn’t God want us to know when Jesus will return? What is the best way to handle this kind of “waiting”?
4. Why will some people will be found sleeping when He returns? Are you drowsy or alert? How will you keep yourself “awake?”
5. How would you live your life differently if you knew Jesus was coming back in one year? in one month? tomorrow?
6. What are the most important tasks He has assigned you to do in His absence?
7. What is the most important thing you could do to be better prepared for His coming?
8. Concerning the things that you currently spend your time doing, which activity is the least productive and should be cut out of (or cut back from) your schedule?
9. Based on this parable, what changes in your life does Jesus want you to make? How will you make those changes?
10. What grace or blessing are you thankful for today? What are you praying for this week?
After sharing what each of you are praying for this week, pray together the Our Father. (Because of the time delay, it is difficult to pray over the phone/internet at the same time, so consider alternating back and forth the different lines as divided below.)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born
to eternal life.
Mark Chapter 13, verses 33-37.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Isaiah Chapter 40, verses 1-11
Psalm 85, verses 9-14.
2 Peter Chapter 3, 8-14.
Reflection Questions for Second Sunday in Advent
1. Read the Gospel from the point of view of someone who had never heard of Jesus before. What would stand out to them? How would this first encounter strike you? What would you want to know more about?
2. How is baptism described here? What do you think it symbolizes? Why do you think so many people responded to John’s proclamation and went out to be baptized?
3. In what ways has Christ come unexpectedly into your life? How did you come to see that it was God at work?
4. Who are the people that are most responsible for bringing Christ into your life? Have you ever thanked them or told them about their role in your relationship with Jesus?
5. Have we been called to be messengers of God to others? How can we prepare the way for Jesus to enter into the lives of other people?
6. God so often works in ways that are surprising, unexpected, and new. Why do you think that is? What is surprising about John the Baptist? Where is God working in your life now in unexpected ways?
7. How is God today preparing the way of the Lord in you? Where are the crooked paths in your life that need to be made straight? When is it easy or hard to “acknowledge” our sins?
8. What grace or blessing are you thankful for today? What are you praying for this week? Pray together the Our Father.
St. Marie-Eugenie Milleret was the French-born foundress of the Religious of the Assumption. As a child, Milleret was said to have had a mystical experience on the day of her first Communion. After a mission at Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral solidified her faith, she founded the community in 1839 with one other young woman. She was 22, and her simple “credo” was innovative for its time in that it signaled not a contemplative charism, but one turned outwards:
I believe that we are in this world and in this particular time
to help bring about the Father’s reign in ourselves and in others.
I believe that Jesus Christ delivered us from the past by his cross,
so that we might freely work
for the fulfillment of the Word of God
right where we are.
I do not believe that this earth is a land of exile.
I consider it a place of glory for God.
I believe that each of us has a mission on earth.
It is simply a question of seeking how God can use us
to make his Gospel known and lived.
I believe that we must carry out this mission courageously
and by means of faith — the poor means of Jesus Christ.
We know that all success comes from Jesus Christ.
I believe in a truly Christian society where God,
although invisible, reigns everywhere
and is preferred to everything.
To make Jesus Christ known as liberator and King of the world,
to teach that everything belongs to him,
that he wants to form in each of us the great work of the Kingdom of God
and wishes each of us to enter into his plan –
either to pray, to suffer or to act –
this is for me the beginning and end of all Christian education.
My gaze is fixed on Jesus Christ
and the extension of his Kingdom here on earth.
John Chapter 1, verses 6-8 and 19-28.
A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’” as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Isaiah Chapter 61, verses 1-11.
Luke Chapter 1, verses 46-54 (the Magnificat).
1 Thessolonians Chapter 5, verses 16-24.
Reflection Questions for Third Sunday in Advent
1. Can you think of times when people have rejected God? Have you rejected Him? What led you back? What made you interested in joining the Catholic Church?
2. Many think that faith is a leap in the dark. In this Gospel, we see that God has sent a message through John and his “testimony” that all might believe. What is your faith based on? Evidence? Experience? Testimony? Witness? Authority? Hope?
3. Where has Jesus lit up your life? What are some things that have happened in your life where you see Christ working to bring light?
4. In Advent, we prepare for the coming of Christ–as an infant, at the end of time in the Second Coming, but also in the here and now as he makes himself known in our everday lives. Where have you found God this week? How are you preparing the way for him to be a bigger part of your life in the weeks ahead?
5. If you were asked to “testify to the light,” to share you’re story of God’s mercy and love, what would you say? What would you talk about? Who in your life might be interested in hearing your story?
6. How do your actions and the way you live your life testify about Jesus? Who do you think looks to you for an example? How do they see your faith? What do they think about that part of your life?
7. John had a mission to proclaim the good news, that Christ was coming. Does your life have a mission? What do you think God is asking you to do? What do you think He needs you to do this year? This week?
8. What grace or blessing are you thankful for today? What are you praying for this week? Pray together the Our Father.
Luke Chapter 1, verses 26-38.
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
2 Samuel Chapter 7, verses 1-16.
Psalm 89, verses 2-5, 27-29.
Romans Chapter 16, verses 25-27.
Reflection Questions for Fourth Sunday in Advent
1. What in this text seems most important for your own faith? Why is that important?
2. How does Mary respond to this messenger from God? What does this passage have to teach us about how we can respond to God’s will for our lives?
3. Have you ever experienced a message from God–a sign or feeling that made you think you knew God was trying to tell you something? How did that experience happen? How did it work out? How else do we experience God guiding us or directing us in our lives?
4. What does this passage tell us about who Jesus is? What is most important to you about this description of Jesus?
5. In what areas of your life do you need ot hear the words, “Do not be afraid.” Where would it help you to know that “nothing is impossible with God?”
6. In this story, God is fulfilling a promise to send the Messiah but also making promises. Have you ever felt that God was asking you to do something difficult or challenging? Describe that experience. Were you afraid? Confused? How did you react?
7. Why is it so hard for us to accept being submissive to God? Do you think of yourself as a “servant” (or “handmaid”) of God? Have you had any experiences where God has taught you to be his willing servant?
8. What one thing can you do this week to accept God’s will for your life and bring your life closer in line to His plan?
9. What grace or blessing are you thankful for today? What are you praying for this week? Pray together the Our Father.
A Prayer written by St. John Henry Newman
O, my God, I will put myself without reserve into Your hands.
Wealth or woe, joy or sorrow, friends or bereavement,
honor or humiliation, good report or ill report,
comfort or discomfort, Your presence or the hiding of Your face,
all is good if it comes from You.
You are wisdom and You are love—
what can I desire more?
You have me in Your counsel,
and with glory have You received me.
What have I in heaven,
and apart from You what can I want upon earth?
My flesh and my heart fail:
but God is the God of my heart, and my portion for ever.
God Has Created me to do some definite service.
God has committed some work to me
which God has not committed to another.
I have my mission;
I may never know it in this life
but I shall be told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.
God has not created me for naught
I shall do good—I shall do God’s work…
Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve God;
in perplexity, my perplexity may serve God;
if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve God.
God does nothing in vain.
He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends;
He may throw me among strangers;
He may make me feel desolate,
make my spirits sink,
hide my future from me—
still God knows what He is about.