Prayers for Advent 2023

Journeying with Hope – Advent prayers

Advent, a season of anticipation and preparation, invites us to pause, reflect, and open our hearts to the profound mystery of Christ’s coming at Christmas.

In this special time, we find solace in the promise of hope, the light that pierces through the darkness, illuminating our path towards spiritual renewal and transformation.

At this difficult and distressing time in history, with so much conflict, we pray with the hope of Christ for peace and for justice as we reflect on the true message of Jesus’ birth in an dirty, drafty stable, far from home and material comforts.

As we are surrounded by commercial messages and the fake Christmas of the commercial world, we instead recall and reflect on the difficult, stressful and exhausting journey made by Mary and Joseph as we prepare for true Christmas.

As another year draws to an end, we also reflect on our own lives, our successes and failures, joys and sorrows, challenges and blessings and unite them all with this journey towards the first Christmas, towards hope, joy and the light of Christ.

Here are three Advent prayers to use during December as we prepare, reflect and above all, hope.


With expectant waiting
we anticipate your coming.
Come close to us, Lord,
come very close.   

Come, Alpha and Omega,
who is from before the ages.
Come, Son of Joseph and Son of Mary,
who went down to Nazareth to be obedient to them.   

Come, Morning Star,
who named the stars.

Come, carpenter from Nazareth, 
who knows the smell of planed wood.

Come, Beloved Son of God,
who knows the heart of God.

Come, Son of Man,
who knows the hearts of God’s people.

Come, Lord of Life and Prince of Peace.
Come, Dayspring and Rising Sun.
Come, Wonderful Counsellor.
Come Emmanuel, God with us;
God very close to us.


Ged Johnson/CAFOD

Advent litany: Lord, we look to you

Compassionate God,

As we look to you for judgement, hold out your hand of compassion
that we may be chastened by your show of mercy and reach out to others in reconciliation.

Lord, we look to you
in whom we hope

As we contemplate our end, make us mindful of your promise of a new beginning
that we may share your promise of life and bring hope to those who sit in darkness.

Lord, we look to you
in whom we hope

As we remember Elizabeth in her barrenness, fill us with longing for the birth of a new creation
that we too may be surprised with joy and labour with those who seek to make all things new.

Lord, we look to you
in whom we hope

As John leapt in his mother’s womb, help us so to recognise Christ in friend and stranger
that we may respond in love and learn to serve our neighbour with generosity not judgement.

Lord, we look to you
in whom we hope

As Mary and Elizabeth sought each other, grant us the wisdom to recognise our needs
that we too may seek each other in solidarity and offer strength to the powerless.

Lord, we look to you
in whom we hope

As Mary proclaimed the salvation of the Lord, give us courage to stand alongside the downtrodden
that we may sing of their hopes and join hands to realise their dreams.

Lord, we look to you
in whom we hope
and whom we long to see.

Annabel Shilson-Thomas/CAFOD

God of hope

God of hope,
we cling to you,
for your renew the face of the earth.
Through the gift of your Son,
our Lord Jesus,
we follow you on the path of dawn.
Enlightened by your love and wisdom,
help us to lead each other
and all creatures
back to your open arms.

Rachel McCarthy/CAFOD

A message from the Board – December 2023

Dear Friends,

I am writing as we begin the next four weeks of Advent preparing for the gift of God’s son to the world, to announce that our our period of waiting for a new worker for Growing Old Grace-fully is over!

I am very pleased with funding support from the Diocese, the Day for Life fund of the Bishop’s Conference and Holy Child Sisters, we have engaged a freelance worker to support our work.

Welcome to Greg Mulholland who will be working with us part-time for the next year.

Greg is an experienced communications professional and will build on the excellent work of our previous freelance workers, in taking forward the work of Growing Old Grace-fully and delivering our vision and mission.

We have a clear brief to organise Zoom meetings to support parishes to be more Later Life friendly, as well as working with two parishes more intensely to support them in their work with older people. This is of course on top of our communications to our subscribers and supporters.

Greg says, “I’m delighted to be working with Growing Old Grace-fully, to deliver its important vision and mission in our Diocese and I look forward to working with the Board, volunteers and parishes to help older people across the Catholic Diocese of Leeds experience spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing in positive and inclusive parish communities”.

We are looking for parishes to work with us on this in the next year. Do please contact us at if your parish is interested in taking part in this.

This December mailing includes an Advent reflection from a member of our board of trustees, Pippa Bonner and some suggestions for prayers which you may want to use yourself or share with other parishioners

With blessings for Advent,

Best wishes,

Carol Burns and trustees of Growing Old Gracefully

Advent: A Time of Challenge and Hope – A Reflection from Pippa Bonner

When I was a child I was on the verge of tears when I sang the words of the carol “In the Bleak Midwinter” written by Christina G Rossetti (1830-1864.) (1) 

“In the bleak midwinter 
frosty wind made moan, 
earth stood hard as iron, 
water like a stone;” 

 It sounded bleak, hard and cold. I lived in Scotland where I could understand that ”snow had fallen, snow on snow”…. I realised that a Bethlehem birth might be cold and hard, but perhaps little snow. I knew the point was that the Son of God was born in very humble, challenging, drafty circumstances away from family and community. As I grew older, I appreciated more the challenge that Mary and Joseph faced travelling for some uncomfortable days in late pregnancy, on the orders of an occupying regime to register their names. It may be on that journey Mary did not have the understanding and support of some of her extended family. They found it difficult to find accommodation as many others had also travelled to register. The unexpected, miraculous pregnancy perhaps was not accepted by some in the couple’s families. Joseph likely saved Mary’s life from stoning, a punishment for supposed infidelity and pregnancy outside of a betrothal or marriage. Her reputation, and his, may have taken longer to be restored. 

 We know too that they became refugees when Jesus was still very young. It must have been traumatic in a regional massacre to hide their child and make a perilous journey to Egypt.  

As I write, Palestinian refugees are making a treacherous journey amidst bombs and gunfire: women, some pregnant, men, many older people, children, newborn babies are riding on carts and are walking to South Gaza adjoining the Egyptian border. Many Jews support the Palestinians but the fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hamas has brought death, injury, homelessness and fear. The modern refugees are taking a dangerous journey. Did Mary and Joseph find food, water and shelter along the way? Did they have to hide? How long did they have to stay before travelling back to their homeland to Nazareth? Were they welcomed or not when they got to Egypt? Many modern-day refugees encounter danger, hostility, rejection, and a great sense of trauma and loss about what they have left behind. 

The amazing belief we have in preparing for Advent is the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah, the great hope enfleshed… 

Advent is a time of preparation and above all a time of hope! As an older woman, every year I appreciate more that Advent is a time of hope. Amidst war in the Middle East and Ukraine and around the world the Saviour, a Sign of Hope and Peace is born. 

Christina Rossetti’s poem finishes: 

” What can I give him, 
poor as I am? 
If I were a shepherd 
I would bring a lamb; 
if I were a wise man 
I would do my part; 
yet what can I give him – 
give my heart.” 

As an older woman this last verse still moves me. Whatever our situation: enough money to pay our bills or not; working or retired; living with others or alone; bereaved; with plans for a way forward or not; security, directly affected by war, trauma, grief or poverty or watching it on T.V., we all have ups and downs. During Advent we bring to God ourselves, our spiritual gifts, our time, our life experience… and our hearts. Christmas brings hope. There are hymns, prayers, online Advent Resources from the Jesuits, Franciscans and others, parish and diocesan events and numerous ways in which we can prepare for Christ’s birth, whether individually or communally.  

Christ brings Challenge AND Hope.  

May you have a Blessed Advent and a Happy, Blessed Christmas! 

Pippa Bonner, December 2023

(1) In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti.  

(Published by many including Decani Music, Suffolk 1999. No copyright holder given. Laudate Hymnal number 144.) 

A Prayer for Peace in Ukraine: Господи помилуй, Lord have Mercy

When we are lost for words, prayers and laments like this one by Rev Jon Swales can help us express our heart’s desire to our Almighty God.

Father of Creation,
God of Peace,

The world has changed,
And so have our hearts,
As we face disappointment, 
disorientation and distress
Not knowing what will happen next.

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy.

Putin and the Masters of War
Have opened the door to the beasts of war,
And it may overwhelm us.
Who is like the beast?
Who can fight against it?

Yet our grief, anxiety and fear
is nothing compared to that faced
by ordinary people living in Ukraine.

So we pray for,
The brave and the scared,
The soldier and civilian,
The elderly and the newborn,

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy. 

And so we pray for,
Those who have decided to fight,
Those who have decided to flee,
Those who resist but choose not to kill.

Lord have mercy.

Christ have mercy.

And so we pray for 
Those who this day will be wounded,
Those who this day will die,
Those who this day will mourn. 

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy

Father of Compassion,
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

We look to you,
In a world at war,
For hope, healing and help,
For grace, goodness and guidance,
For the cessation of war and the flourishing of peace.

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy. 

Father of Peace,
God of Hope, 

After crucifixion,
Your Son was laid silent in the grave,
And then you spoke and he was raised to life.

Violence does not win,
It will not have the last word,
Death does not win,
It will not have the last word.

In the reconciliation of all things,
War will be no more.
In the reconciliation of all things,
All tears will be wiped away.
In the reconciliation of all things,
There will be a tree for the healing of the nations. 

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy.

Hospody pomyluy, Господи помилуй

Christ have mercy. 


To listen to this prayer being read by Rev Jon Swales, please click on the link below:

Lament and Hope: Prayers for Peace and Justice: A Prayer for Peace in Ukraine

You can find more laments, prayers and poems on the same podcast site, some are about the climate change disaster, some were in response to Covid, and there are more about the Ukraine as well.

Rev Jon Swales is Lighthouse Mission Priest (C of E) at Lighthouse West Yorkshire, which is is a fresh expression of church and registered Leeds-based charity which reaches out to those who are battered and bruised by the storms of life.

‘Healer of all Hurts, how long?’ – A Lament by Jon Swales

Father God,
Healer of All Hurts.

We come to you in our hour of need saying.

How Long? O Lord.
How Long?

We find our ourselves caught up in the storm of Covid.
We feel stranded and alone,
Cut off from those we love.

How Long? O Lord.
How Long.

We face shipwreck and catastrophe,
Battered and bruised by the storm of this pandemic.

Our nation is in peril,
Our NHS is stretched,
Our Souls feel anxious and afraid.

How Long? O Lord.
How Long?

Healer of all hurts,
We come to you in our hour of need pleading.

That you would still the wind and waves,

And act,
And move,
And comfort,
And heal,
And embrace us in your healing hands.

Covenant God,
Father of Lights,
We bring before your tender love.

Those who are sick,
Lord have mercy, Christ Have mercy.

Front Line workers for protection and resilience,
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

For energy and patience for those homeschooling,
Lord have mercy, Christ Have mercy.

For the vulnerable and those shielding,
Lord have mercy, Christ Have mercy.

For ourselves in our boredom, frustration and anxiety.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

Father God,
Healer of All Hurts.
We come to you in our hour of need praising you,
That you do not leave us,
or forsake us.
You have shown your love to us in Jesus.

Covenant God,
Father of Lights,
We come to you in our hour of need praising you,
That there is not a hurt you will not heal.
Nor a tear you will not wipe away.
You have shown your love to us in Jesus.

We praise you that in Jesus is a balm to soothe our souls.
We praise you that in Jesus there is always hope.
We praise that in Jesus all will be well.

Until that day,
We Weep and Pray.

How Long? O Lord,
How Long?

Written by Rev Jon Swales, January 2021

Jon is Lighthouse Mission Priest (C of E) at Lighthouse West Yorkshire, which is is a fresh expression of church and registered Leeds-based charity which reaches out to those who are battered and bruised by the storms of life.

Find out more on their website.

Fantastic quality prayer booklets/bookmarks – ideal for sending at Christmas

Whilst on one of my ‘journeys’ poking around the world wide web, I stumbled across this excellent organisation ‘The Prayer Trust ‘.

Started in 2000 under the leadership of Father Pat Sayles, the Trust produces a whole host of prayer booklets, bookmarks, cards and even some CDs. 

On browsing through the items on the website I found a long list of varied items all at extremely affordable prices, so I put in an order.

With bookmarks at 5p, booklets at 10p or above and notecards at 6 for £1.00, I was thinking the printing may be cheaper quality and the paper rather flimsy, but I was absolutely delighted when I opened my package to find high quality gloss booklets with excellent vibrant colours.

The picture above shows most of my haul (some items have already found their way to friends and family), for which I paid the princely sum of less than £7.00 (and that was including an optional extra donation).

The website says: ‘Having spent years in Peru as a Columban Father, Fr Pat is aware of the uplifting  power of prayer across the world,’ and the aim of the Trust is to ‘encourage the use of prayer by everyone, everywhere’. They express their passion like this:  

Our hope is that those who use these little books will want to share them with others – with friends and relatives, with neighbours and colleagues, with those who might be ill or suffering, or those who feel far away from the Lord’s love.’

I thought I would share some pictures of items I bought so that you can see them in more detail, and whet your appetite.


There are many different bookmarks with beautiful pictures and prayers on the back.


There are many more booklets, some longer than others, all with lovely images with the prayers.


These are Notecards, but there are also Greetings Cards including Christmas cards at 10p each.

Folding Bookmarks

These are an ingenious idea, with seven sides of prayers or quotes in one folding bookmark.

This Advent Folding Bookmark entitled ‘Come Lord Jesus’ explains the ‘O Antiphons’.

On the order list on the website there are several Advent and Christmas items available now to order.

So why not head over to their website and take a look!

Please note that not everything has a photo on the website, so use the order form to see all the available items listed. You will need to make your choices and then print off the order to send with a cheque. It may take a few days for them to process the order as some volunteers are unable to go to the building at the moment, but you will not be disappointed when they arrive!

Enjoy 3 Minute retreats at home

Loyola Press provide ‘3 minute retreats’ for each day that you can easily access at your computer whenever you want.

One of our readers alerted me to this precious resource and I thought I would share it with you all.

The website says:

‘3-Minute Retreats invite you to take a short prayer break right at your computer. Spend some quiet time reflecting on a Scripture passage.’

‘Knowing that not everyone prays at the same pace, you have control over the pace of the retreat. After each screen, a Continue button will appear. Click it when you are ready to move on. If you are new to online prayer, the basic timing of the screens will guide you through the experience.’

Each retreat has a lovely picture accompanying it, and you can listen to the music audio if you want. The first screen prepares you by prompting you to pause and breathe.

It is followed on the next screen by a short passage from Scripture and then a brief narrative comment/reflection on the passage. Next come a couple of questions for your own reflection, and lastly a prayer.

Why not try out today’s retreat ?
Or choose one from the list of past retreats..

You can also sign up for daily email alerts or download the app for your phone.

Thanks are due to the Loyola Press for all their work to help us learn and reflect each day. There are also many other places you can access daily prayers and readings, some of which are mentioned on our page about mass and prayers online.

Prayer week focusing on prayer for/with Older People

From Sun 7th June – Sat 13th June The Pilgrim’s Friend Society are having a week of prayer for older people and the issues affecting them.

Take a look at this user friendly prayer resource, or check out their blog posts throughout the week including blogs from Faith in Later Life and Linking Lives on topical issues about later life.

The prayer resource is excellent for use at any time, why not print it off and use it as a prompt whenever you need it.

Why not also take a look at the other excellent free resources on the Pilgrim’s Friends website including resources for churches and detailed dementia information sheets, or their helpful booklets. You will be sure to find something that is helpful for you or your church/organisation.

Seeking is Seeing

I have recently discovered this Prayer, from an anonymous source, which I find very reassuring. I hope you find it helpful too:
 Seeking God is as good as seeing God.picture of Julian of Norwich

Who, but a saint,

Would know so clearly

That the journey is the reality,

The steps are sight,

The effort is reward,

The seeing is the searching,

The dream is the reality?

Seeking God is seeing God.

 Julian of Norwich