On the feast of the Presentation of our Lord, it is the custom to bless candles in the Church. One of the things that I am reminded of this day is how similar our own spiritual life is to a candle. The flame…the Light and Love of Christ…is ignited within us at Chrismation, providing within us a natural illumination to protect us from the darkness.
St. Nikolai of Zica once said:
“Candles remind us that before anything else, the Creator of the world created light, and after that, everything else in Order: “And God said, let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). And so it must be so also at the beginning of our spiritual life…so that before anything else, the light of Christ’s truth would shine in us. From this light of Christ’s truth, subsequently, every good is created, springs up, and grows in us.
This past year, how many times have we either experienced or heard stories of those who have been driven to the brink of despair, shrouded in darkness, and seemingly absent of hope? As difficult as things have been for us Orthodox Christians, imagine how much more difficult it must be to those who do not have the light of Christ in their lives…who have been bumping into the proverbial “coffee tables” and searching for the “matches of meaning” where they can’t be found. It is our calling as bearers of Christ’s Light to illuminate not just our own lives, but all of those who are searching for that gentle presence of Christ in the midst of chaos.
Great and Holy Lent will soon be upon us. Now is the time to put forward our best efforts to test the purity of our inner candles that hold the Light of Christ. If there is a vice or impurity that we have allowed to plague us during the past year, wipe it away with tears of repentance. If the foundation of our spiritual life has melted away, let us strengthen it with spiritual reading, fasting, and prayer. Keep the flame of God brightly burning with us, allowing His Life to shine from our souls, illuminating not just us, but all those who are searching for meaning in the midst of chaos.