Monday, December 14, 2020

Light the Way

"Longing for light, we wait in darkness
Longing for truth, we turn to You.
Make us Your own, Your holy people
Light for the world to see.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in Your church gathered today."

-Lyrics from Christ Be Our Light, written by Bernadette Farrell in1993

One of the most beautiful celebrations of the Eucharist I have ever participated in was on December 13, 2012, the day of the funeral mass for my father, Robert Zelenka. While it was a typical cold mid-December day in Northeast Ohio, I distinctly remember that it was an unusually sunny day. 

I also have a vivid memory of serving as a pall bearer and feeling and seeing the light cascade through the church windows as this song played. Holding onto my father's casket, waiting in the center aisle for the procession, reveling in the light of the sun, I remember singing this song at the top of my lungs as its lyrics spoke directly to my heart. 

"Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness. Christ be our light. Shine in Your church gathered today."

For as much pain as I was in and for how much I missed my dad, this song intermingled with the literal light and shone brightly through my darkness and flooded my heart with peace. 

My dad was one of many people in my life, and one of the most important, who served as a light of faith for me. Through his efforts to ensure that we went to mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation, that we prayed before meals, that we received faith formation and/or Catholic education, my dad helped light my pathway to Christ. 

Somehow, I felt at this moment what I had been taught my whole life: death has no power over us. 

As we reach the third week of Advent, and rejoice in expectant hope over the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, may the light of Christ break through the literal and figurative darkness surrounding us at this time and show us the way forward.  

He is who He says He is. He conquered sin and death. And, He came to earth to show us the way to eternal life: Himself. 

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. 

He lights the way. 

Yesterday, December 13, is also the Feast of St. Lucy, whose name comes from the Latin word for light. Legend has it that somehow St. Lucy's eyes were gouged, only to miraculously return. As such, she is the patron saint of those who are blind or suffer from diseases of the eye. Her feast, much like the processional song at my dad's funeral mass, was placed in the midst of a season of darkness to symbolize  the light of Christ breaking through the darkness. 

He lights the way. 

Come, let us follow Him.