Spirituality for Today – Winter 2022 – Volume 26, Issue 2

Candle in the Window

Reverend Raymond K. Petrucci

A small flickering flame in the darkness emitting its light through the windowpane somehow is a marvel and a wonder. Many a weary traveler longs to spot this tiny light of hope and welcome. The candle’s glow may signal a place to find lodging, a source of help when lost, or a sentinel marking a destination reached. A lesson for all is embodied in that simple, ordinary, common candle consuming itself for the benefit of someone unknown.

Christmas time has arrived, decorations of various kinds occupy every room of the house, and in each window a small candle. Although the candle is made of plastic with a battery powered bulb mimicking a flame, still it appears a reasonable facsimile. In accordance with the season, the light of the candle may remind us of the light of the Star of Bethlehem leading sleepy shepherds toward an amazing discovery in the humble surroundings of a stable near an inn. With each Sunday of Advent, the lighting of an additional candle on the wreath illumines more brightly the path to the Lord. As the passing days of a new year continue to mark its way, the season of Lent brings us to the ultimate event of our faith. On Holy Saturday night, the first Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord features the lighting of the Easter Candle. This Light of Christ identifies us as a people of the Light and to become a source of that Light for others. The Easter Candle will shine on the baptisms of the newly born in Christ and be a beacon of eternal life at the funeral Mass for the faithful departed. In church, we might light a candle, signifying an enduring prayer, for someone or some good desire of ours. Our parents have a baptismal candle that was lit from the Easter Candle at our baptism. What a great idea it would be to prayerfully light that candle each year on the day of your baptism to celebrate who you are as a child of God.

As we have seen, candles play a definite role in our spiritual lives. Let us not forget that it is the meaning of the light that must capture our attention. The light of the Star of Bethlehem leads us to Christ. The light of the Easter Candle leads us to Christ. The light of our baptismal candle leads us to Christ. The function of light is to obliterate the darkness. The light that leads us to clearly see the pathway to eternal life in Christ scatters the darkness of sin and death. These truths are not meant to dwell in a Christological stratosphere, but to be seen, effectively and forcefully, in the lives of every person who claims the name of Christian. If we are not to be overwhelmed by the horrors that may occur in our lives, it is the light of Christ’s presence that assures us that there is a way out of sorrow to joy. When the frailties of our mortal bodies inevitably run their course, our hope is in the light of an eternal dawn.

To be a witness does not exist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.

Cardinal Emmanuel C. Suhard

Let us consider a New Year’s wish and a sincere resolve. Another way of looking at light and accomplishing a palpable witness to Christ is to conceive of light as the proverbial "light bulb" that may go on in your mind or as "seeing the light" – that is understanding. The application of the norms of Christian morality to everyday life needs a strong dose of knowing what is positive and what is negative in our lives. Going "whatever way the wind blows," as it were, is no way to live as a Christian. One approach might be to think and pray deeply about what truly is good in ourselves and in what we desire and about what truly is negative about ourselves and what we desire. This knowledge and understanding are what we require to have an efficiently operating conscience. From this awareness, we can engage in serious thought. We ask ourselves what in my make up contributes to the good I seek and what in my make up contributes to the problems in my life. You shine the light of the gospels upon this process and honestly face yourself and thus you have a clear pathway to living a Christian life.

If only it were a simple matter to fashion our conduct in a way that is free of the enigma of human nature, living a Christian life would be the most logical and most apparent manner of being. The jumble of reason and emotion adds to the difficulty for grace to conquer sin and for the person we want to be to define the person we are. But this is the season of miracles. Although resolutions tend, in time, to fall flat on the floor, keep battling against anything in this mixed-up world that would rob us of the inheritance that God wishes for us. Let us pray for one another that we all step out of the darkness into God’s wonderful light. Jesus Christ will keep a candle burning for us to find the way.