Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Light of Christ

    Recently, the theme of Light has been coming up a lot in my prayer. It’s a natural advent theme as we reflect on the Incarnation, the moment Divine Light took flesh. During this season, we are invited to allow the Light of Christ to penetrate our hearts and lives in a new way. 

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life." - John 8:14-15
    The convent here in St. Louis is still under construction, but (thanks be to God!) our chapel is pretty much finished. Last week, we had two new stained glass windows installed and I have been mesmerized with them. The windows themselves are nothing too striking; they are rather plain - one is the image of a chalice with grapes around it, and the other is a host surrounded by stalks of wheat. I love the simplicity of them, and I have been captivated by the play of light in our new space: The warmth of the light as it passes through the windows, the reflections it creates on the walls, and its movement over time. I can remember, as a kid, lying in the patches of light created in our living room as the afternoon sun set in through the front windows of the house. I would bring a book with me, and as the light moved I would scooch over accordingly. I remember those as some of the most calm, tranquil moments of my childhood - but, I guess that’s to be expected in a homeschooling family of 5 kids! This peacefulness I experienced as a child is the same feeling I often get in front of the tabernacle. No small coincidence; for, in an immensely truer sense, it is Light that dwells and emanates from that space. Our founder, Blessed James Alberione, speaks about this in his own experience of the spiritual life: “Here was a half-blind man being guided. With the passing of time, light came little by little so that progress could be made. God is the light.” 

"From the Tabernacle, everything; without the
Tabernacle, nothing." -Blessed James Alberione
    In recent days, it has been consoling for me to read this. Alberione’s humility and recognition of his need for Christ, the light, is so beautiful. It can be easy for me to become discouraged in the little progress I make, or the times I fall back, but it is consoling to remember that real progress is made little by little. We cannot understand everything at once, but the Lord enlightens us throughout our journey. Mary said yes to becoming the mother of our Savior, but she did not fully understand what that meant; in fact, she listened to the word of God and “pondered (it) in her heart” (Luke 2:19). She allowed the Lord to slowly reveal His plan to her, and renewed her yes throughout the journey. As I journey through this Advent season, I pray that I can continue saying yes to the Lord’s plan for me, even when things are not totally clear to me. Last Sunday - Gaudete Sunday - I was particularly struck by the words of St. Paul in the second reading. He writes to the Thessalonians, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will accomplish it” (1 Thess 5:24). I take great heart in knowing that God, in his steadfast love, will accomplish the work he has begun in me, enlightening my path day by day. 

    So, as I sit before the Blessed Sacrament everyday, basking in the Divine Light and watching the sunlight pass through our stained glass windows, I recall that even though the reflection of the glass onto the wall is blurry, it is truly beautiful. Likewise, our messiness can be beautiful when we allow Christ to shine through it. This Christmas I will be exclaiming with Isaiah (and singing with The Roches), “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone...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” (Isaiah 9:1,5). May the light of Christ rest upon each of us this Christmas, as we embrace the true joy of our salvation. 

"And night shall be no more; they will need no light of lamps
or the sun, for the Lord God will be their light." - Rev 22:5


Gil Villanueva said...

Beautifully written Elizabeth Dunbar!
I remember a time, late one night in Adoration, after I had received communion and the anointing of the sick, when I felt the Light of Christ - in the Power of the Holy Spirit coming alive in the heart of my being. It was less of an invasion from without; and more of an implosion, followed by a supernova from within. And as I looked around the room I could see the light of Christ pouring out from all of the people in the room. They were beautiful with the light of Christ. And in that moment, with tears streaming down my face, I understood Thomas Merton's epiphany in Louisville when he said: "There is no way of telling people that they are all ... shining like the sun."

Elizabeth Dunbar said...

What a beautiful and powerful experience, Gil! Thank you for sharing! Eucharistic Adoration is such a gift and a space filled with God's grace. Many moments of revelation in my own life have happened in front of the Eucharist. Have a blessed Christmas!!!