Sunday, June 10, 2007

Stories of Eucharistic Light vs. Light that Sells

Photo credits: The Nativity Story, I Am the Light, by Danny Hahlbohm

J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R.*

During the Year of the Eucharist 2005 Fr. Jack Lombard from Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, MD offered the following Spirit-filled reflection:

"One night, at 11:30 pm, an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others. Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole." (Source: The Pilgrim-Jan 2005)…

Now, to more sublime matters, did you ever think about…?


"The process in which plants and certain other life forms are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water using light as an energy source. (Photo > Grk., phos, "to shine"; American Heritage Dictionary).

Spiritual photosynthesis:

Process by which a sinner becomes a saint changing old, bad habits into good ones, sacrifices into prayers and using God's Light as an energy source.

In this Sunday's Gospel and reading (Mt 5: 13-16) Our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to be the "light of the world". This may sound strange to some, or many. You may think: I am a sinner; I am not worthy, or: let somebody else do it, not me! Our Lord's saying implies at least two things: the "world"-apart from God's grace-is dark and sinful; and we human-life-form phos-bearers, are called to enlighten it. The Lord will use us in different ways (see I Cor 12:4). We all aren't called to be tv evangelists or evangelical-extroverts-but we are all called to witness and spread the Light, each in our own different way, right where we are. As St Francis of Assisi said: "Use words when necessary."

Light is one of God's attributes, as Jesus says:

"I am the Light of the world" (Jn 8:12), and perhaps this is why Quoheleth the Preacher states: "Light is sweet and is pleasant for everyone to see" (Eccl 11:7). "The true light which enlightens everyone" (Jn. 1:9) did not stay in Heaven but came to us, and therefore Jesus states: ""I have come as light into the world" (Jn. 12:46). We need that Light, for there is much darkness. Remember Mrs Nat King Cole.

Light is Beauty and Darkness is ugliness:

"The Light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (Jn. 1:5). This was demonstrated two weeks ago, during the Respect Life March in Washington DC. I noticed a howling, darkly clad and scarifying crowd on the side of the road, shouting epithets and cursing young and old walkers passing by, taunting them: they were obviously anti-life, "pro-abortionists". It was viscerally ugly-the darkness, the hatred. Nonetheless, the marchers for life did not give in by trading evil for evil, but prayed, ignored and kept marching by. The darkness did not overcome them. "Blessed are you when they persecute you and slander you…" (Mt. 5: 10).

God is Beauty:

St Thomas Aquinas says one of the attributes of beauty is light--claritas. So, read the story where (Ex 33:18-19) Moses goes up the Mountain to see God-not His Face (God's Essence) but His Divine Presence. Moses cries: "Do let me see your glory! He (God) answered: I will make my beauty pass before you…" May you seek this Light-filled-Beauty, in this life as far as possible as it is to "see God," and more fully in the next, thru the Beatific Vision of Heaven. St John's Revelation of Heaven, of God and celestial life is light-filled beauty: "Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth… I also saw a new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven from God…It gleamed with the splendor of God, its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal…I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty…The City had no need for light for the glory of God gave it light and its lamp was the Lamb" (Rev. 21:1,211,22) . Now, opposite all this Light and beauty is gore, darkness, Hell, and the vortex of "metaphysical-black-holes" which attempt to "vacuum" light, goodness and souls. That's like the Devil-who is darkness itself. Diablo means to throw across"-Satan throws himself across our desire for, and following of, God's Light. The devil makes darkness seem more attractive and fulfilling-- illicit drugs and relationships, materialism, agnosticism and atheism, wrongful lifestyles. St. Paul says that Satan sometimes may appear as an angel of light. We must be aware that what seems like light-pornography, for instance --initially entrancing and seemingly light-filled, is really a dark and vicious circle, a metaphysical black hole, vortexing holy souls into sinful slavery (cf Jn 8:34). But, we must remember the Light and Beauty of Heaven and Holiness.

Last week I went on a kind of emergency call. An elderly man was facing surgery for pancreatic cancer and his wife, a non-Catholic, pleaded to our Grotto Office, after calling two parishes and being "dismissed". I went over the Mary's Mountain and visited this ex-state Maryland trooper and was greeted warmly by the both of them (and their large German shepherds!). They invited me in and told me their story, their troubles. After a while, the wife simply looked at me and said ever so innocently-sincerely, straight in the eyeballs: "You can heal him." I was stunned…I eventually heard the man's confession and then laid priestly hands on him and blessed him and his wife. He began weeping and, this guy who had once guarded the governor, arrested crafty criminals and calmed many a Sixties-riot, began weeping. He said, so child-like: "I feel better." The Light was shining thru him. I went away healed myself-after witnessing such a child like, trusting Faith…How can you abandon more to trust in Him to use you, to heal you?-May the Light of God flow thru your body, chase away any darkness, disease or illness and fuse you with his Trinitarian Uncreated light.

Waves of Light:

Came in response to the AsianTsunami-wave which destroyed not only peoples but whole towns and villages. Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said: "The only beautiful sign that is seen in this moment is the surge in feelings of solidarity, which brings help form all parts of the world. " Many thousands of people donated time, talent and treasure to those who were, are ailing. Don't get into the bad habit-"out of sight, out of mind"-but, by meditative reminders (a picture around your home of the suffering situation, ergo: "In sight, into mind and heart") you may pray for them or even help them with material assistance. They are our brothers and sisters in the Mystical Body of Christ: "Now the Body is not a single part, but many…If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it" (I Cor. 12:14,26). Don't divorce yourself from your responsibilities-be enlightened.

Light of the Laity-Leadership and Holiness:

Many Catholics today are realizing our Holy Catholic Church is not oppressive but, rather, as Dorothy Day and other laypersons realized, is empowering and stimulating to holiness. Many Catholics in the last few decades have neglected or rejected praying the Rosary, attending Eucharistic Devotion or utilizing sacramentals, but there has been a resurge with young new faithful Catholics yearning for Holy Mother Church's treasuries-they are being enlightened at the many ways Jesus allures souls and gives them ways of discipleship, Let us call this Enlightened Tradition-tradition comes from the Latin root word, "to pass on". Many young Catholics are asking for these traditions-they're not sterile but stimulating holy habits! Our Holy Father has canonized many lay saints, and even couples (yes-it's possible!), thus encouraging these lay vocations to fully realize their holy potential. He has also encouraged countless laypersons thru sermons and convocations, and continual calls to youth to live out their faith in the marketplace, schoolyard and world. In Your Light, O Lord, we see Light". -Ps 36:9.

Religious Life and Light:

Let's face it-today, just who wants to be a priest or become a nun? And yet many dioceses (esp those emphasizing orthodox teachings of the bible and Church, and Eucharistic Adoration)are attracting young male vocations , while young ladies are joining excellent religious orders like the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa) and the Nashville Dominicans, to serve the poor, sick and dying, and extend Catholic Truth and education to others. You can join the culture or counter the culture with Christ! "I take joy in my sufferings" (Col. 1:24 ): Last week Pope John Paul II was sick with flu-like symptoms. You can't contain the Light, right?! Now, what did this holy guy, aged 84, pope for 27 years, shot at and now ailing with Parkinson's, do while in the hospital? He said Mass from his hospital bed. No laxity, no lukewarmness. Christ is ever faithful to those faithful to Him. The Roman Pontifical, a prayer book, encourages the priest and congregant, in the Mass: "Realize what you do and imitate the victim you offer." Remember the Light shines within to grace us with perseverance, even when we don't' feel like going on. "And in a pillar of fire at night to give them light" (Ex 13:21).

Selflessness and Light:

In his prayer, "Radiating Christ," Cardinal Newman, the English convert, expresses the profound truth of selflessness (getting-out-of-the-way for God to become "All-in-all"-I Cor 15: 28): "The light, O Jesus, will all be all from You, none of it will be ours, it will be You shining on others thru us." Mother Teresa prayed this prayer every day after Mass. She became selfless. We can embody a kind of false humility when we deny God has given us anything to do, however in a subtle or loud way.: We must remember the Light of God, which He imparts in us, is not ours. It is not up to us to manifest the light or not. We can be selfish by keeping to ourselves the Light He has given to transmit others: "The light will be all from You, Jesus…"
-Live as children of the Light: (Eph 5:8)
Last Sunday I noticed a family praying at our Eucharistic Holy Hour. There they were, all on a Sunday afternoon, Mom and Dad and children lined up in a pew, kneeling before the Lord. It was nothing really extraordinary, but simply elegant and inspiring-a whole family praying together. Usually families are so busy…Later the children came for blessing-Kevin and Maria. I was especially impressed when they took special measures to stop and kneel in front of me to receive the blessing.

The Light shines:

Light even in Darkness
-In Calcutta I recall one day going with Sr Monica on a tour after Mass. We went to a busy street in a van, pulled over and then all these folks briskly walked up to us, and smartly lined up: they were persons with leprosy. Sister got out, sat down at a makeshift desk, greeted each soul, dispensed medicine and helped them live. I think of her bright, smiling face and sari-habit amidst the darkness of leprosy.. Sometimes we are called to be a light in deep darkness.

Neglecting the light?:

The light and radiance of Angels, the allure of stained glass, nimbuses and haloes, sacred artwork , sacramentals and candles, Guardian angels prayers and statues, are signs of holiness and radiance; perhaps we neglect these and maybe this is why souls are "going new age." Like Scott Hahn says-we shouldn't be cowering in using terms like "light "and so forth, but re-claim them. The Church-visible should help spark the Light in souls by way of sacramentals.

Uncreated Light:

This is what God is. Every other light that shines is created. Jesus, not a creature, not created, is "True light from True Light" (The Creed). Come, let us worship the Light.

Light of Resurrected Body:

One of the attributes some theologians speculate that the glorified body will have, is light. So, no matter how diseased or ravaged our earthly bodies may be, cultivate hope that, if we are saved, we will be re-generated with Him, thru Him into new celestial bodies (p.s.-caveat emptor, no health spa can offer this). And worship God for having made such a beautiful plan for us humans!


Recently a guy who is converting to the Catholic faith visited our offices. Self-described as a new-age seeker, allured by light and beauty, he is now happy within our Mother Church. Before me as we talked, on my desk, was a beautiful picture of The Holy Eucharist in the monstrance at the Grotto Glass Chapel during Christmastime. It sat there for weeks. Carpe diem. I thought: Light and Love, the Lord. So I gave the picture to him. He immediately said, child-like: "Beautiful…For me?" Then, he said: "Look-there's light," The Eucharist." …Yes Christ is Light. Let the Phos-Eucharistic Light attract you as it has this guy.


-Clean up your act-"Blessed are the pure in heart-they shall see God" (Mt. 5:8). What is impure or sinful in your life, your soul?

-Estimate your gifts and talents and how you can use them more-thru Him, with Him, in Him…-Let light shine within-as a film receives and imprints shining light may your soul receive the Light of God within the soul to imprint His Grace and Love. Pray more, more deeply, more lovingly….Admire the Light in others-don't get jealous but respect the Lord who gives these Gifts to all (I Cor 12 ).

Mary-Immaculate is filled with Light. She is a pure, crystalline channel of graces-ask for her help to become pure and holy. Pray the Mysteries of Light--Jesus- Public Ministry-and become like her with Him: "My soul magnifies the Lord" (Lk. 1:46).

+ + +

Thank you Fr. Lombard for shining the light
far more richly and eloquently than I ever could.

Sincerely yours in Jesus and Mary, I am

Mike Rizzio, SOLT

Imitate Mary
Become like Jesus
Live for the Triune God

Seek the Light of Our Lord Jesus Christ
See you on the High Ground!

* - J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R. stands for: Jesus, Mary and Joseph;
O Beata Trinitas; Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael

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