Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lights in the darkness

It's been a busy weekend so far, and my day today is not over yet. Last night I concelebrated Mass with the Polish Soldiers who are here; I still can't pronounce most of the words I see in their Sacramentary! I don't know anything of what the priest is saying when he gives his homily.

There's been quite a bit of that on this deployment so far.

I then celebrated Mass for English-speakers. It was the Fiesta de la Santisima Virgen de Guadalupe in addition to being the Third Sunday of Advent. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas, and her feast day is a time of great celebration in certain parts of the Western Hemisphere.

I've always been amused by the story of the Mexican nobody, Juan Diego, attempting to convince a European bishop in 1531 that he'd been visited by the Virgin Mary herself. Not even bringing the bishop blooming roses when the whole locale was covered in snow was enough to convince him -- until the roses fell to the ground, revealing a multicolored image of a woman seemingly woven into the fabric of the poor man's tilma, or garment.

That image is the famous representation of the Virgin of Guadalupe that's so recognizable hundreds of years later.

What shocked the bishop perhaps more than the image itself, was that the woman depicted therein looked like one of the locals -- and not like some Northern European goddess, as she had been portrayed often until that time (and since).

That just seems deliciously subversive to me somehow.

This morning I celebrated Mass (in English), went to lunch in the DFAC (dining facility), and then hoped to get a nap, but life had other plans, and I spent some time with a person who was in a lot of pain and decided to take the risk of sharing it with someone (me).

By the time I finished with all that, the sun was setting, so I came back to my office, hoping to meet up with my young friend so we could light three candles on the menorah together, before I have to go off to meet with the folks from the Knights of Columbus and the Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults.

By the time that's over with, I'll be ready for bed!

The candles of the menorah are supposed to burn for at least 30 minutes, so when my friend didn't show, I lighted the candles for him, and for all who are unable to do so themselves. The Hebrew prayers were a bit easier tonight, as the rhythm of the language is coming back to me after so many years of desuetude.

It has been good to sit in silence while the candles burn down for the last half-hours, and to put my reflections on the day into the words you've been reading.

Now that the last of the candles is about to extinguish itself, it's time to move out into the darkness and on to my next appointments.

I'll carry the light within me as I go.

It's good to be reminded of that possibility.

Happy Chanukah!

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for retelling the tale of the vision of the Black Virgin, as some have called her. She's one of my favorites. It has been first through MotherGod that I have found my way back into the loving presence of FatherGod where I projected most of my own errors and fears.

Coupled with the lighting of the lights for your Soldier...which, to me, is what this time of year is all about in the Northern Hemisphere.

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