In Dark Times, the Light of Faith Shines

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Father David BonnarStorms can be scary, especially for children. The crushing sound of thunder coupled with the streaking darts of lightning can engender fear, challenging parents to find a way to calm emotions during the storm. One of the ways my dear mother calmed us children amid frightening storms was to light a candle. In the most severe storms, she would momentarily light one of our baptismal candles. I think it was her motherly way of letting us children know that the light of faith is greater than any storm or darkness.

Since March of this year, this has been a dark time for the world. The pandemic has created unprecedented darkness of incredible death, loss and uncertainty. The experts tell us that it will get even darker in the coming months. It doesn’t help that the days are becoming shorter, meaning less daylight and more darkness.

Even the holidays will be less bright. Where I live, an annual tradition that has spanned six decades will not occur. The Annual Light Up Night in which all of the downtown buildings keep all their lights on for an evening, signaling the start of the Christmas season, has been canceled due to COVID-19. Indeed, this is a dark and stormy time in so many ways beyond our control.

Amid this penetrating darkness, however, the light of faith shines. I think of the many people who continue to attend holy Mass on Sunday, even though, in most places, the obligation has been temporarily lifted. Some continue to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, even if it means celebrating it outdoors. Some remain faithful to Eucharistic adoration. Families continue to approach the Church for baptism and faith formation. Many parishes have gone forward with the celebrations of first holy Communions and confirmations. Indeed, the light of faith shines amid the darkness of the time.

With the permission of my bishop, I was privileged to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation to some young people in our parish. In each of those celebrations, I preached about how the gifts of the Holy Spirit can help these young people make a difference in the world. I never imagined that I would see this difference occur so quickly.

At Sunday Mass this weekend, we welcomed a new cantor to our music ministry. Would you believe that this new cantor was a young man who was just confirmed a few weeks ago? Not only was this young man singing outdoors at the parking lot Mass with temperatures in the mid-30s in a fierce wind, but he also sang one song in Latin. When I welcomed him to our music ministry program and shared with the people that he was confirmed only weeks ago, the faithful in their cars honked their horns in joy. Already, we were witnessing the fruits that come with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, we were seeing, in broad daylight, the shining light of faith triumphing through the darkness.

FATHER DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, is a pastor of 16 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where he has served in numerous roles. Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

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