Friday, February 2, 2007


"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. " John 1: 1-5

Today is the feast of Candlemas, also called the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord. It's amazing to read the words of St. John, above, and realize that St. Simeon recognized their truth just by seeing the infant Child at the Temple. Where other busy passers-by saw nothing unusual, just a mother and father and child fulfilling the prescriptions of the Law following the birth of a baby, St. Simeon saw, and adored, the Word made Flesh. He recognized the Truth at once upon seeing Him; he thanked God with joy:

"29 Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; 30 Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: 32 A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."

Two thousand years have past since the events recorded above took place. The light of Christ still shines amid the darkness of this world, but it can be hard to see sometimes. Particularly in today's America, which has come to consider itself 'post-Christian,' is this light difficult to discern.

Take the issue of abortion, for example. Seemingly intelligent and decent people have no problem admitting that they favor abortion; they are quite open about it, if by 'open' we mean that they will use any euphemism for abortion except the word itself. They are even willing to discuss hypothetical restrictions on abortion, but invariably they conclude--regretfully, of course--that anything less than allowing a woman to have her offspring put to death from conception to the moment the child's head emerges from the birth canal is somehow antithetical to the whole notion of freedom. Attempts to bring reason, science, logic, philosophy, or humanity into the debate will result in all these notions being labeled 'religious extremism' and thereby discarded without ever being engaged. The light of Truth shines no less clearly in the midst of these discussions, but the darkness that calls itself 'pro-choice' chooses not to encounter its bright simplicity.

Or consider ESCR, perhaps. Some people, politicians mostly, who until very recently called themselves pro-life have decided that this is a good thing, that the promise of cures for so many diseases is too alluring to consider the cost, that the fountain of youth is worth a flood of heaven's tears. What does it matter if the research on human embryos means not only destroying them, but owning them? True, after slavery we said we'd never try to own other human beings again, but these humans are so tiny, in such an early stage of development; why shouldn't we own them, and use them, and destroy them for our own good? Our reasons are better than the reasons given by those who owned human beings in the past; our motives are purer; and the humans are small and therefore worthless, unless we make them profitable. So they say, and maybe they believe it; but the light that shines in the eyes of every Snowflake baby casts a dawn of clarity over their self-serving lies.

Then there is the rising talk of euthanasia. There are people who point out in all seriousness that as we are willing to do this for animals, we should be willing to do it for humans, as well. Humans are just another sort of animal, and it gets expensive to maintain nursing care for the elderly or the infirm. Not that mercenary motives should prevail, of course, but their lives are so meaningless! What good does it do to keep existing, day after day, when you're no longer young or beautiful or athletic or relevant, socially speaking? Your life is nothing but a burden; let us take that burden away from you, so we won't have to live with the terror of becoming old as you are, helpless as you are, imprisoned in that terrifying prison of flesh and bone, alone with that most horrific of companions--memory--and accompanied by that most frightening of sounds, silence. Let us ease our sufferings by ending yours. The light flickers, grows dim, in the aged and dying Christian soul, but what a tremendous blessing is each hour spent preparing for that final journey, and what cruelty to rob the immortal being of those last priceless moments of grace! Those in darkness fear the darkness that will never end, but they are more afraid of the light.

An aged man, holding a tiny child. A sign of grace; a sign of contradiction. A light that pierces through the secret darkness in the hearts of men; a darkness that turns and hides in fear from its purifying glow.


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