By: Sister Timothy Marie, OCD
There were a lot of candles in our Sacred Heart Retreat House Chapel on Sunday. It was Candlemas Day, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, and the World Day for Consecrated Life. Many thoughts ran through my mind as we Sisters waited in the vestibule of our chapel to begin the liturgy with the blessing of the candles. I thought about Jesus entering the temple with Mary and Joseph, and the processions with people in every country carrying lighted candles.
Lighting a candle is a mysteriously beautiful action. Where there is total, complete darkness, one lit candle becomes crucially indispensible. Recall the quote, “It is better to light one candle, than to curse the darkness.”
The following story was told by Sister Genevieve, OCD, (the sister of St. Therese, formerly known as Celine). One evening she was very tired and more than a little discouraged as she slowly entered the sisters’ choir for their time of prayer together and discovered she was the first nun to arrive.
Night was descending and it was gradually becoming darker. Sister Genevieve looked at her little, much-used candle which was now nothing more than the remnants of a waxy stub. The thought came to her to do a good deed and light the candles of the other nuns, but she was tired and discouraged and besides her own candle was pretty used up already.
She quietly took her little candle stub and journeyed from choir stall to choir stall to light the candles of all the other nuns from it. Then she returned to her place and knelt down.
She felt better – not so tired or discouraged. She smiled to herself as she reflected on what had just happened – that she was tired and a little discouraged and had a used-up stub of a candle that was almost of no use at all. Yet, from that candle she was able to light all the candles of the other nuns.
I thought of this story yesterday, Candlemas Day, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord as my sisters processed into the Church with lighted candles during the entrance procession of Mass. I thought of our community life together, strengthening one another, bearing with one another in love, in “communio” as the Latin describes it. It was interesting to me to see that the brand new tall candles, and the smaller, already-well-used-up candles gave the same amount of light.
Yes, each year this day is also set aside as World Day for Consecrated life. Pope Francis shared in his 2014 Angelus message that, “Totally consecrated to God, consecrated religious are totally given over to their brethren, to carry the light of Christ there where the darkness is thickest and to spread his hope to hearts who are discouraged”.
There we were, carrying His light – literally – into our Sacred Heart Retreat House Chapel amidst our 65 retreatants.
When Mass was over, with our candles were extinguished, we went back into everyday life. May his light shine through us all.