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Guidelines for Writers

advcandletilepreadvtileLeen esto en español.

The theme for 2016 is ~ O Come ~ Oh Ven ~ O Veni ~ (click here for more about this) and the preferred form of the reflections for this year is the lament.


Seems like kind of a depressing topic, not in keeping with cultural pressures to keep it positive. But in scripture, lamenting is actually a sign of hope, a signal of transcendence, a truth-telling art that dismantles whatever is in the way of creation’s flourishing. Walter Brueggemann stresses the role of public lament in order to move to a new place, to exercise our capacity to see and name that things are not right.  To grieve that reality is the first step in offering serious criticism. But next steps are also crucial, lest we get stuck in despair. The O Antiphons express the longing, the desire, and the praise that is also part of lament- part of healing – and that is why they are linked in this year’s Online Advent Calendar.

Brueggemann says that lament is a refusal to engage in denial. And truth-telling is often uncomfortable, sometimes profoundly so, but it is what we are empowered by Christ to do in every aspect of our lives. And the truth is, we’re pretty naked and vulnerable. We’re here without much of the kind of protection we’d prefer, which usually takes the form of things like walls, weapons, armor, snarkiness, wealth and distance. And we know how well those things work to ward off suffering, don’t we?

And so, for this year’s Online Advent Calendar, I’d like to invite you to offer a lament or two. What truth needs to be told and grieved? What ought to be done about it? What needs to be prayed about and healed? What do we and God need to hear at this time? Interestingly, according to Batya Weinbaum, in many oral traditions, both early and modern, the lament, which she names “the sound of trauma,” has been a genre usually performed by women.  Laments in Hebrew scripture typically have a regular format which include an address to God, description of the problem or suffering from which relief is sought, a petition for help and deliverance, and an expression of thanksgiving.  Psalm 44 is a good example of this literary form.

Please check this page to see what dates are still available. You may pick up to four dates, such as every Wednesday, for example, or just submit one reflection. The links to the scripture readings are given for each day, and you can use those as your starting point, or not, as you choose.  If you would like to write a short one or two-line prayer to go with your reflection, that would be welcomed. If you do not, I will write one for that date.

Submissions should be between 100 and 600 words, if possible. (600 words is about 2 double-spaced pages.) You may write in either English or Spanish. Please let me know by Friday, October 1 which dates you’re choosing. The deadline for submission of reflections is three weeks later, on Friday, October 21, 2016. Please copy and paste your writing into an email and send it to Baya Clare, CSJ at And as always, let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. Thank you.

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