(revised from posting in January 2013)
Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
– Rabindranath Tagore
Days are lengthening, and even amid the cloudy days of winter we sense that light is returning. Our liturgical calendar finds us in the season of Epiphany – a time of revelation that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem and signaled to the world by the light of a star, a symbol of the light our world needs as much as ever to expose the hatred, lies, ignorance and violence we live with.
American composer Morten Lauridsen, in his large-scale work Lux aeterna, includes this gentle evocation of Light from Light, true God from true God. The quiet serenity of this music might help you to find the dawn’s glimmer of light that signals an awakening and expanding faith within you.
O nata lux de lumine, Jesu redemptor saeculi
O born light of light, Jesus, redeemer of the world
Often times our faith is demonstrated through our actions in the world. But at the core of those actions our faith is cultivated in the stillness of the dark, before dawn’s light.
…a “Savior had been born in Bethlehem and signaled to the world by the light of a star, a symbol of the light our world needs as much as ever to expose the hatred, lies, ignorance and violence we live with…”
After reading about Paris, our world needs much more of this light.
But the Church cannot stop or rest or pat herself on the back until she not only feeds, clothes and shelters the poor but also educates and finds means of work for life improvement. Compassion and justice are not political but religious in nature–they are a matter of the spirit and conscience of humanity. The Church must re-acquire the poor but this time fairly and with decency and lead the way in our society to their empowerment.
We cannot afford the “Christmas Light” of beauty and truth and joy until we enter into a voluntary, passionate and saving–saving!– cohabitation in our halls with misery, vice, degradation and despair, disease, and violence. That is our proper sphere as ministers of the Light which we will find there. Squeamishness and timorousness is of the evil one, courage is born of love. But it can’t be just individuals doing good. We have to overthrow the upper classes and their immense disdain of the indigent–overthrow with the weapon of conscience and the Word. For it is written: ‘Bless’ed are the poor for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!’ And it is ‘the poor’ as the Lord later points out when Lazarus, the poor, inherits the Kingdom and the rich man does not.
We must go not to Congress for that is a trap of Conservatism. But to the newspapers and publishing houses and internet blogs and educate the American people on the wealthy’s abandonment of the poor and the failure of the American Dream: Bring me your poor, your huddled masses….what happened?