Why Lux Christi

Between the reading of the two Old Testament lessons during the wonderfully beautiful Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts, the priest serving the liturgy comes out of the Royal doors and intones “Wisdom! Let us attend! The Light of Christ illumines all.” At this point the faithful are on their knees or prostrate (prostrations occur at least four other times during the Liturgy, and it is the one service where the Orthodox practice Eucharistic adoration). As this particular Liturgy is only celebrated during Lent, during our period of fasting, looking forward to the great Feast of Pascha and Christ’s resurrection, we are reminded that we are in desperate need of that Light, of seeing what we creatures have lost, what end we were created for, and what we have abandoned. The opening of St. John’s Gospel, read at the Paschal Liturgy, informs us that the Logos of God is the Light which enlightens everyone who comes into the world. Holy Scripture is filled with allusions to light. We can think of Isaiah 9, that the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light; or in Hebrews where St. Paul tells us that after we have received illumination we come to disregard the paltry things of this world, desiring a heavenly inheritance. Why? Because we have now identified ourselves with Him who in Himself tells us what we were meant to be. This is the answer to our needs; or more aptly, this is the life we have spurned with our first parents in paradise, and is now offered to us anew. And it is anew. Every liturgy, whether of St. Basil the Great, of St. John Chrysostom, or of St. Gregory the Dialogist, the Pope of Rome, we sing the Hymn “We have seen the true light. We have received the heavenly Spirit. We have found the true Faith, worshiping the undivided Trinity, who has saved us.” This Light, this Faith, that has, as we confess, established the universe, is as St. Paul said at Athens, near to all, in that He is not far from us, for in God we live, and move and have our very existence (Acts 17). In that God is the basis of all truth, all life, we are called to return to God, to the light of Christ. Yet we must also take note: in that Christ is the basis of our life as humans (for he is the first true human, the conqueror of death, who is alive forevermore), and in that in each of us, as St. Justin Martyr says, is the seed of the Logos, the light that enlightens everyone, no man is bereft of light. God is near, indeed inescapably so. As St. Nicholas Cabasilas said, he is more near to us, than we are to ourselves. Thus, even the most depraved cannot escape testifying to this light, even though they seek to suppress it in unrighteousness. Consequently, even when we read Nietzsche, when we read Voltaire, we can see in their curses, their blasphemies, ephemeral traces of that light. Otherwise, how could they be without excuse.

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About Cyril Jenkins

Professor of History
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One Response to Why Lux Christi

  1. marcus josephus says:

    Cyril,
    Your forgot silly old Sarte (almost said “Sot”) and his oozing essence proceeding a meaningless existence. With all this talk of “Pink Slime” in the news, Sarte has oozed to the forward part of my brain. I use this phrase because I am not sure, existentially, if he can really be “in” my thoughts. (If he could, would I really want him there?).

    More to the point… If God really did not exist and DOXA therefore a delusion, and all things being equal, I know I would choose the Delusion of DOXA and the lunacy of following the LUX CHRISTI.
    After all, better to gamble with Pascal and end happy than with miserable old pretzels like Nietzsche, Volataire, Sarte, et al.

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