July 29, 2016

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Let the light of Christ shine through you in this dark world

Sean GallagherDozens of faith-filled teenage boys processed prayerfully through the darkness. Leading the way was a priest who silently carried the Blessed Sacrament held in a monstrance. Six of the boys, dressed in the cassocks and surplices of altar servers, carried torches as they walked on either side of the priest.

Christ was the focus of this procession. It was his light that led the way through the darkness.

There were other lights shining that night, though. Thousands of lightning bugs blinked off and on all around the people in the eucharistic process on June 16 on the campus of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. It was a beautiful and moving sight to behold on the final night of the seminary’s Bishop Bruté Days, its annual vocations retreat and camping experience for teenage boys.

I took in the procession in my work as a reporter for The Criterion. Watching the procession move slowly through the seminary’s parklike campus toward its chapel amid the lightning bugs playing their part, I pondered how all of this was an image of the Church and its families in the world.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, all believers in the world make up Christ’s mystical body here. We are his hands and his feet. With our voices, we share his good news with those who need to hear it, including ourselves. And we go forth with Christ’s wonderful light to enlighten a broken world cloaked in the darkness of sin and ignorance.

It is within families that this light is nurtured and strengthened to shine forth in warmth and truth. Parents help their children come to know and stay close to Jesus as they grow. And children are living signs to their parents of the continual youthful and innocent love of our Savior, who said that when we welcome a child, we welcome him (Mt 18:5).

Together, Catholic families are called and empowered by God’s grace to be beacons of Christ’s merciful light in this world, leading others and all being led by Christ to him, his Church and ultimately heaven itself.

Each of us as individuals and individual families might not put out much of Christ’s light. We are, after all, as broken as the rest of the world. But through the gift of baptism, we have been opened to the working of grace. And when we choose to cooperate with it, we shine forth like tiny lightning bugs in the midst of our dark world.

One lightning bug by itself won’t do much to illuminate a dark night. But bring thousands of them together like I saw on that night at the seminary, and it’s amazing to see how much light—and beautiful light at that—is produced. For believers, this is especially the case when we stay close to Jesus, the true light that led the way on the nighttime procession.

Each of us is charged by Christ to share his light in the world. And we do that best when we stay close to him, the source of any light we put forth.

This simply isn’t a duty, though. When we carry out this mission in the big and little events of our everyday lives in concert with other Catholics near and far who make up Christ’s mystical body in this world, both as individuals and in families, the light that shines out from us fills our dark world with a glow whose beauty can’t be denied.

As we draw others to this light, we’ll go together through the darkness of this world to the fullness of Christ’s light that will envelop us all in heaven. †

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