Light of Faith

"Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th' encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou.
(John Henry Newman).

A little over four years ago, our course in preparation for Perpetual Vows birthed this blog ‘Pilgrim Progress’ of which the undersigned was the scribe. Hailing from 8 different countries, it became a way for us to stay in touch with our respective communities by sharing with them what we were living during this three month course. However the journey didn’t finish there and I find myself still blogging. I also still find myself very consciously being a pilgrim.

Reading the encyclical ‘Lumen fidei’, written by both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, one theme was a common thread for me: the concept of the faith journey. I could hear the words of the melodic ‘Lead, kindly light’ playing in my mind as I read, a hymn which often ends our time of Vespers as a community. It is interesting to read the text and feel those passages which smack right of Benedict’s style and those of  Francis. Such is the creativity of the Holy Spirit. As with all encyclicals and Apostolic Constitutions, it takes its name from the first two words in its Latin form, ‘Lumen fidei’ or ‘Light of Faith’. Surprisingly enough, the encyclical in its opening paragraphs quotes Nietzsche (yes, the same Nietzsche who infamously wrote ‘God is dead!’), in reference to his advice to his younger sister Elisabeth. He encourages her to take risks, to tread “new paths… with all the uncertainty of one who must find his own way”, adding that “this is where humanity’s paths part: if you want peace of soul and happiness, then believe, but if you want to be a follower of truth, then seek”. (LF 2).

So a question, is faith the proverbial ‘leap in the darkness’ or a ‘leap in the light? Sometimes your only transportation towards finding the Lord’s plan for us is a leap of faith. Faith is a journey that is often formed in our weakness. So it is right that we seek safe places to ask questions that lead us forward...questions about death, about life, about Jesus, about tragedy and pain. Faith is a journey where often the path becomes visible to us just one bit at a time, sometimes even just an inch at a time. Therefore this calls for trust, pure implicit trust in God who want the fullness of life for us.
As we live the Advent journey, we are called to ‘leap into the light’, to walk towards the Sun of Justice, the Daystar from on High. Our God will split the Heavens and come down with the greatest gift of his Son the Emmanuel. Faith is a gift...a gift which we will not find under the Christmas tree so why not encourage others who may be far from the Church this year to come back to God and rekindle the gift received in their baptism.