“I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

In his Christmas address to the Roman Curia in 2010, the Pope Benedict had some very strong words in reference to the future of modern society. He compared it to the decline of the Roman Empire and also said, “The very future of the world is at stake.”

“Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Repeatedly during the season of Advent the Church’s liturgy prays in these or similar words. They are invocations that were probably formulated as the Roman Empire was in decline. The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats.

“Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Today too, we have many reasons to associate ourselves with this Advent prayer of the Church. For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.”

The days are dark indeed—what will it be like when the sun has fully set? Those whose hope is set in man-made structures will have unimaginable difficulty. But those whose hope is set in the eternal God who saves, will always have a star to guide them. Not only that, but as the Scripture passage above says, they will BE a light to the nations.

At all times and in all ages, Christians have been light in the world. But it is only when all the false lights have been extinguished that the true light can do its best work. That is why we must not fear the days to come. God’s power is at its best in weakness, as St. Paul tells us. We must not fear our own weakness, and we must not fear the darkness. Our Light is Christ himself shining in us and through us.

However, if we want to reflect fully the light of Christ, the lens of our lamp must be unclouded by sin or attachments. Think of these things as clutter piled in front of the window; the more there is, the less light gets through. Holy detachment and abandonment to the will of God in all things will keep us grounded and useful in the time to come. It is crucial. Our heavenly light can never be extinguished, so let us “seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1)

On a Catholic Classics website, I recently came across a book called Holy Abandonment by Rev. Dom Vitalis Lehodey, O.C.R, published by Tan Books. The entire book may be read here: I would love to quote the entire chapter on detachment, but in the interest of brevity I will only excerpt the section that mentions mortification and penance. However, I recommend that you read the entire chapter if you can, or better yet the whole book.

“All who desire to reach holy abandonment must hold in high esteem Christian mortification, by whatever name it may be called, whether abnegation or renunciation, the spirit of sacrifice, or the love of the cross. They will have to practise it to the best of their power, and with untiring perseverance, in order to attain thereby to perfect abandonment and to maintain themselves constantly therein. Father Roothaan had good reason to say: ‘It would be useless without mortification to endeavour to reach indifference, because it is by means of mortification alone, or chiefly, that we can make ourselves and prove ourselves indifferent.'”

The way of penance, the Rule of 1221, is a great gift to us personally and to the world generally. The more people that embrace the life of penance, the brighter the light will be that shines in the darkness. Prayer, penance, and mortification is spiritual medicine for the world, balm for the wounds of diseased humanity. Let us practice our rule to the best of our ability, with untiring perseverance. Then, when all the false lights have been extinguished, the light of Christ shining through us will draw souls like moths to a flame. In the darkness, the Light will triumph. Be not afraid!

From my other blog:

Isaiah 9:1 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness–on them a light has shone.

“My beloved, how my heart quickens when I think of the illumination that is coming to the world. Never before in human history has such a grace been granted to humankind. At the Incarnation, the Light of the World was veiled, but at the Illumination, each heart will see Truth come in the flesh. The scales will fall from their eyes and each heart will be invited to drink from the well of mercy. How I long for all my children to enter into this well with complete humility and abandonment. Pray, dear souls! The evil one will be ready to pounce on unsuspecting hearts. The battle is not over at the Illumination. Continue on your mission of fasting and prayer.”

Jesus, Light of the World, we wait in joyful hope for the grace of the Illumination, and offer anew in the Divine Will every prayer and sacrifice ever made on behalf of souls, especially those made by the Holy Family. May their love for souls bear unlimited fruit at the Illumination and may all souls find refuge in the Immaculate Heart. Come Lord Jesus! Amen.


2 responses

  1. Hi Janet! Thank you for this post. THe Holy Spirit guides you to speak about penance, mortification… THis is very important. I recently got a blessing from my Spiritual Director a blessing for impulsive penances. That is small sacrifices throughout the day. We dont hear so much about penance and mortfication, we need to hear more that often, even daily for encouragement, the Joy of penance!! Thank you I thank God for this post it is a sweet reminder what whatever we sacrifice here on earth even a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee our God will surely not ignore it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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