Make Your Face Shine Upon Us
Make your face shine upon your servant; Save me in Your faithfulness.
— Psalm 31:16
One of my most fondest memories of being a novice in religious life, especially during Christmas time, was when after the sun had set and the shadows had enveloped the sky, I would sit in the pitch black of the chapel with only the light from the sanctuary lamp penetrating through the darkness. There was an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility because I knew that no matter how dark life in the convent had become at the hand of my novice directress, Christ would always be my light and my stronghold. I wanted to be like St. Peter and keep my eyes fixed on Christ in a steadfast gaze as he walked upon the turbulent and stormy waters towards our Lord.
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
— John 8:12
It is this verse from the Gospel of St. John that helps me during difficult and challenging times of suffering and pain when it feels like the darkness has completely surrounded me. I know that if I continue to hold onto the hem of Christ’s garment and place my trust and confidence in Him that His light will always dispel the darkness. The darkness can never overshadow the light because in Christ we have everlasting life, and He will never abandon us. We have to allow ourselves to be consumed by the fire of faith within our hearts, and for His holy flame of love to keep us engulfed by His radiance.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone.
— Isaiah 9:1
There are times in our lives when it can appear that there is no end to the darkness. We feel alone and in desolation, and that we will never again experience the light. But the truth is that we find God in those moments when we feel that we are by ourselves wandering about without being able to see before us. When the Magi were searching for the Christ child they did not always see the star from the east, but they knew that it was there and that the light would return to lead and guide them to the savior.
We are not always aware of God’s Presence, and just like the star He may seem to disappear from our sight, but we know that as the adopted children of God, the light of Christ is within us always because on the day of our Baptism we became a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. Christ’s head and body are forever united as one the Bridegroom will never leave His Bride, the Church.
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
— 2 Corinthians 4:6
The Light has been my comfort and consolation in the darkness because the Light is a Person; the Light is Christ, Who lives and reigns in our hearts. He is the God-man, Emmanuel. When I would sit in the convent Chapel with the light of the sanctuary lamp glowing in the darkness I would imagine Christ’s embrace around me while I gazed upon the golden tabernacle before my eyes. I could feel Him there with me offering me assurance that I would be all right because He was really and truly present before me.
He had already conquered the darkness from the Cross and won victory over the sting of death, and the Magnificent Light would always protect and preserve me. My novice mistress may have been able to prevent me from becoming a religious sister, but she could never keep me from continuing my journey towards heaven and one day being able to see God Face to face. The Light shines for all of us in any state of life and for all vocations.
If we ever find ourselves surrounded by the darkness we can always search for the beacon of light that is Christ, Who will always guide us out of the darkness and through the torrent of our lives. He is Emmanuel — God with us.
There is no shadow, however dark, that can obscure Christ's light.
— Pope Benedict XVI, Eucharistic Celebration on the Epiphany of Our Lord, January 6, 2009
Christina, God bless you in your incredibly profound testimony and perseverance!