Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
Dawn, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice, come, and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
Dawn… it’s the slow realization of the light.
There’s a prayer in the communion preparations of the Western Rite that says, Tibi, Domine, plagas meas ostendo, tibi verecundiam meam detego. “Lord, I show my wounds to Thee and uncover my shame before Thee.”
What does the light uncover in you? Whatever you are hiding from the light, that will be the death of you.
Modern psychology speaks of our shadow side or our darker self as if it were a good thing to confront and live with. Christianity, however, wants to make us all children of the light – sons of the Father of Lights in whom there is no shadow. Orthodoxy would go so far as to say that the shadow is what gets burnt up by our God who is a “Consuming Fire”.
Remember, what you are hiding: that will be the death of you.
What is it that gets revealed by the Divine Light? What is it that you throw away to burn?
This is the Orthodox Sacrament of Confession, the holy mystery of Reconciliation. What you expose no longer kills you: it dies. But you die, too, a little bit. That part of you that was living, if you will, with a cancerous growth, a parasite dies as well. This might be a time when “parasite” is the most literally correct word: it comes from Greek roots meaning “along side” and “food”. A “parasite” is something that we are feeding with our own food – other than our real self. The parasite is the thing that is eating us: a false self. Our sinful nature is not really us. What we do does not define who we are.
What do you bring to the light?