In every generation, there are always those who shun the darkness to follow the light. It is these humble souls with whom I am blessed to worship every Sunday. Through the glory of God, the light shines in the darkness as it has ever done, and still the darkness does not comprehend it.
And the light shineth in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it.
These lucid words are uttered by the priest during the final Gospel at every traditional Latin Mass. They are from the opening chapter of St. John’s Gospel.
The light shines in the darkness but the darkness shuns it. It’s ever been thus. And it’s the same today as it’s always been.
Today, as the culture of death clings desperately to its suicidal lifestyle choices, clutching at the nothingness in which it believes and plummeting hopelessly and helplessly into its own disintegrated abyss, the light continues to shine in the darkness as it has ever done. And still the darkness does not comprehend it. It still shuns the light. Its doomed spokesmen proclaim the death of God, even as they are themselves dying. Their sneers of contempt are the sneers of the cynic who hates the God in whom he has no belief. It is the denial of life by those who have forgotten how to live.
So be it. It has ever been thus.
But, in every generation, there are always those who shun the darkness to follow the light. These are the saints, or at least those who are hoping to be saints. It is these humble souls with whom I am blessed to worship every Sunday at Prince of Peace Catholic church in Taylors, South Carolina. They are sinners, to be sure, but they are sinners who crave for God’s mercy. Like me and my family, they worship at this particular parish because of the sublime beauty of the liturgy. Many of them are refugees from the culture of death, as am I. They had been desolate souls who had dabbled with the diabolism of the darkness, who had fraternized with those strange things in the Night of which Belloc warns us. Like me, they have sought and found consolation in the only place in which it can be found, in the Sacred Heart of Christ. Unlike me, most of them are young, and many are converts. There are many young married couples, open to the gift of life, who kneel at the altar rail for communion surrounded by their children.
This is the future. And we can see that it is good, and full of fruitfulness and hope.
I am convinced that so many young converts and young families are attracted to this particular parish because of the way that the light of the liturgy shines forth the beauty of God’s presence amongst us. This Easter Sunday, for instance, we were blessed by a missa solemnis, that most glorious of liturgical dances in which every movement of priest, deacon, subdeacon, and server resonates with symbolic significance. It is choreographed theology centred in the sacrifice re-presented on the altar, so rich that every movement is a movement towards Christ Himself.
The dance at the altar was accompanied by some of the finest music with which Christendom has blessed us. The prelude was from Bach’s Concerto in A Minor, the choral Mass was the Missa Brevis in D Major by Mozart, and the offertory and communion antiphons were by William Byrd (Terra Tremuit and Pascha Nostrum respectively).
As the choir and people sang the Marian antiphon, Antonio Lotti’s Regina Coeli, I felt as though I had no right to be present at this gushing forth of the very splendor of truth. Me, a miserable sinner. Why should I be blessed in such a manner? Why should I be bathed in bliss and kissed by beauty? Echoing the words I had repeated three times before communion, Domine non sum dignus, I knew I was utterly unworthy of the gift I’d been given. Christ had given me Himself in the Eucharist, and the clergy and choir had given themselves to Him, and even to pitiful me, in their clothing of His sacrificial Presence with their own small talents and gifts of devotion.
Through the glory of God, the light shines in the darkness as it has ever done, and still the darkness does not comprehend it. But we who have seen the light need not be scared of the dark. The Resurrection of Christ, celebrated so gloriously at the Easter Sunday liturgy, shines forth the light that vanquishes the darkness, and the life that conquers death itself. In such light, and with such life within us, we can step forth in the knowledge that the culture of death’s long and loathsome suicide can do nothing against the power of the light of life and the love unconquerable which is its source.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.
The featured image is “The Resurrection (c. 1463–5), by Piero della Francesca and is in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.