April 10, 2011
Imagine for a minute that you have gone into St. Paul’s, it is early in the morning, the lights have not been turned on and your eyes have not adjusted to the dim light. As you look towards the High Altar on thing stands out – the shining light of the Sanctuary Lamp. Isaiah speaks of the mystery of the revelation of God, “as a lamp that shineth.” As we contemplate this votive witness of the people of God to the eternal presence of God we might consider three things. The lamp gives witness to abiding life of God – or to use the proper theological expression – the transcendent life of God; it also gives witness to the abiding love of God, or the love of God immanent in His creation; and furthermore it bears witness to the abiding purpose of God revealed in the wonder of the Incarnation of our Lord. The ever burning Sanctuary Lamp tells us of an abiding Life and an abiding Love; a Love that is behind our love, a Life that give us life. In the beginning God – the central message of this beacon – it reminds us of our calling as Christians to bear witness and give glory to the reality of this truth. It shines in the face of the all too pervasive self-centered thinking that human life is the limit of life. The light of that lamp calls us to bear witness with all that we are to the truth that behind human life there is something better than a fate or a force. This vocation is specifically recognized at Baptism when the Priest hands the newly baptized a candle lit from the Pascal Candle and says, “Receive the light of Christ as a sign that you have passed from darkness into light. Shine as His light in the world to the glory of God the Father.” At St. Paul’s there are other votive lights and each in there on way bear witness to a different aspect of the Christian truth about life and the light available to us through Jesus Christ. The votive candles at the various shrines remind us that each one of us is a member of the Body of Christ because of the work and witness of someone else. Including those we don’t know as well
as those we know by association or the historic witness of legend and story. These lights also bear witness to the Communion of Saints that surround us in
all our endeavors and they lend aid to the vision articulated at every Mass when the Priest says “Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven,…”. In addition to the votive lights at the Shrines, banks of seven day candles and ten hour candles in the Chapel of Our Lady of Walsingham and before the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace bear witness to the mutual dependence and interrelatedness of the Church Militant. They stand in silent vigil to the prayers and Thanksgivings which have been offered in the building which houses our corner of the Church here and now. They encourage us in our prayers and invite many of us to rely on the power of prayer even when it seems impossible. They also remind us to give thanks for the many blessings sent our way. In this season of Reflection may we all grow in the knowledge and love of the true Light and encourage each other to bring the message of God’s love to a hungry world.