When the Sun Rises in the Morning Sky…
the Final Hours of Advent
The Final Hours of Advent:
Our city endured another power outage not too long ago. I remember it quite well because it happened in the middle of the night. The next morning – remember, we wake up way before the dawn – it was amazing to find ourselves in total darkness. Of course, we had placed flashlights and lanterns in appropriate places to be used in such an event, but how do you discover that appropriate place when there is no light to guide you to it?
After finding our way to the chapel, we entered slowly – one by one. Then, we lit all the candles in the sanctuary.
It was so beautiful.
Candles emanate, it seems to me, a different kind of light than electricity-generated light, such as the light that comes from a light switch or battery-operated light as in a flashlight. Candlelight, on the other hand, is gentle and easy on the eyes. It is easy on the spirit too – something hard for me to explain. The best I can do is to say that it is a welcoming and warming light – candlelight calls out to you, invites you into its warmth, and in some unknown way, nourishes your spirit.
Maybe that is one reason so many of the Sisters like Advent so much. We enjoy, even relish, the external ambiance with the ringed evergreen wreath and its four stately candles and our special evenings together, reading Christmas and Advent stories or simply telling our own stories – especially by candlelight.
Above all, we love our beautiful custom of Las Posadas. Every evening for nine nights in a row – from December 16 through December 24th – we process to different areas on our Motherhouse/Sacred Heart Retreat House campus by candlelight, singing the Litany in Latin.
Culturally and traditionally, Las Posadas is a Hispanic Advent/Christmas tradition that re-enacts Mary and Joseph’s journey from the town of Nazareth to Bethlehem which was about 70 miles. The rosary and novena prayers are prayed, a candlelit procession occurs each evening as Mary and Joseph’s (in our convent these are statues carried by the sisters) journey onward to yet another home for the night. Click here to listen to our novena reflections and pray along with us.
Las Posadas traditionally takes place at night and brings us back to former times when one’s way was lit only by candlelight. Today most of us just take the light that is part and parcel of our lives for granted. Today’s world is all “lit up.” We do not experience the inconveniences, yes, even the fears and dangers, that arise when there is great darkness.
So, that is what the power outage reminded me of – a world in darkness.
Kind of like our world today, don’t you think?
Again this year, the prophecy of Isaiah read at this time of year reminds us all…
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light: to those who dwell in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.”
And now that Christmas is almost upon us, the liturgy proclaims…
When the sun rises in the morning sky,
you will see the King of kings
coming forth from the bridal chamber.
May we spend these last few hours of Advent in readiness and joyful anticipation of His coming!
Previously published on the website of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, used with permission.
Art: Detail of Votive candles in Saint Patrick Church. Located at at 284 Suffolk Street, Lowell, Massachusetts, Emw own work, 19 May 2012, CCA-SA, Wikimedia Commons.