THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
I’ve been thinking of stars a lot lately. The sky gets dark earlier and earlier and I long for light. Last week we had the super moon: it was as close as it could get in its orbit around the earth and so shown brighter than ever reflecting not only the light of the sun but the light of the world.
Advent is a time to reflect on THE Light of the World; Christ’s double coming in the end times and Jesus’ coming as an infant. Human nature, being what it is, often focuses on basking in the warm glow of the manger scene, a sterilized version of what really happened. If we imagine the real nativity it would reflect on what is happening in our world today with all its injustices, homelessness, natural disasters and conflict between nations.
Imagine what the birth of Jesus was like for Mary and Joseph. Talk about confusing circumstances: doubts regarding the couple’s future, conquering rulers ordering them to leave their home, journeying to faraway places, nowhere to lodge. And after the joyful birth, a mad king sends his army to kill all the children in the region and they have to flee. Life was not easy. No wonder the Chosen People longed for the Messiah.
We, too, have a deep need for Christ and we feel it most keenly when it is dark and the circumstances of our own lives leave us struggling. No wonder we long for the Light of the World to enter in to our presence here and now.
One of the benefits of living in a monastery is that we sing a wide range of Advent hymns throughout the day and season. Most have phrases reflect our yearning for light: ‘Creator of the stars of night,’ ‘Beyond the moon and stars, as deep as night, so great our hunger Lord, to see your light,’ ‘Love most bright’, ‘Come, O Radiant Dawn… Come, Sun of Justice,’ ‘Love, the star is on the way,’ ‘The King shall come when morning dawns and light triumphant breaks,’ ‘Christ…her star and sun and strong redeemer,’ ‘Christ, may your light surround us.’ I could go on and on. All these songs help us express our longing. Like the four themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love assigned to the four candles on our Advent Wreath, they help light our way and give us strength and courage to follow the Light of the World.
Have you ever lain on the ground looking up at the stars? I remember one time I was out by myself and gazing at the cosmos and having an eerie feeling while looking at the vastness of space. I was overcome with a sense of wonder and awe thinking about its immensity, the eternal nature of the universe. It felt like God was reaching out to me. It was a bit terrifying. Just me and God. In hindsight, I realize it was a moment that Celeste would describe as being aware of your nothingness in comparison to the Infinite All. It was quite a humbling experience. About this Jesus told Celeste, “You should praise and thank me for this gift: I have given you an excellent being, with both the experience and the remembrance of your nothingness.”
We have been created in the image of God, so even though we are nothing, Jesus tells us we are worthy, ‘an excellent being.’ We can be points of light shining out God’s Infinite Love and Mercy to our sisters and brothers. To our eyes, stars are just tiny points of light, but in reality they are unfathomably large balls of fire eternally aflame which continually burn and gives light through all eternity. We are called to “always be on fire with a pure flame of most chaste love until finally, after all the worldliness has been burnt out of your being, CHRIST ALONE IS LIVING IN YOUR LIFE.”
I did a word search for ‘star’ in the writings of Blessed Celeste and found three references. Funnily, because her last name is Crostarosa it highlighted ‘star’ a lot more times wherever CroSTARosa appeared.
Celeste writes, “God placed the stars in the firmament. These are like all the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior and these merits adorn our soul like jewels which shine like stars in the firmament of our souls.”
Carl Sagan once said, “We are made of star stuff.” I think Celeste would agree. She writes, “Everything that exists, the stars and the moon in the heavens, the earth, the plants, the creatures, even the current events, exists for the delight and good pleasure of God.” God spoke from the bright cloud, “This is my Son in whom I Am well pleased (delight in).” Jesus, the First-Born of all creation, shares his matter, his very being with us. God created the stars, the Son and us. In our nothingness we are one with the Creator, the Son, the stars, one another. In us God, too, delights. Note the word ‘light’ is in delight.
What is our response to this mind-blowing reality? Celeste answers, “Let your response be in your prayer and your work; let Delight in God be your food, your room, your life, your spirit, your desires, your hope, your security. The evening shall be a time of silent thanksgiving to the eternal Father for having given Jesus to the world. And they shall thank God for all the graces and the treasures which the Church enjoys through the Son’s merits.”
So, this Advent, during the darkest time of the year, let us be like the stars of heaven that sang together with shouts of joy at the dawn of creation and join with all the children of God singing a song of thanks and praise for Jesus, the Light of the World.