November 2023 Allocutio

The Bright Star of Faith

Fr. Paul Churchill, Concilium Spiritual Director

As the days of darkness fall upon us in the Northern Hemisphere they seem in harmony with global events. The continuing conflicts and tensions seem to have no end. The kingdom of sin may appear to have its tentacles going deeper as the world of war, drugs, abortion, selfishness and apathy abounds. Many seem to have abandoned God and for others it seems that God has abandoned them. In the midst of it all one person still shines out with a great brightness of light: Our Lady. And that is because when a great darkness surrounded her on Calvary she kept her faith, yes, she trusted still, even though the whole purpose of her being seems to have come to an end.

I call her the Bright Star of Faith. That is what she is for us all. What a shining example. Matthew, Mark and Luke all describe a great darkness falling over the earth during the three hours Jesus hung on the Cross. This is not just a physical darkness, it is a spiritual darkness as humanity says “no” to its loving Father who had sent his only Son, it is an emotional darkness for those who hoped that he would be the one to redeem Israel (Lk 24:21). John, in his account does not mention that darkness. His passion narrative is one of light and glory. Why? I suggest that it is because, staying close to Mary, he received from her a strength and a light which brought him through those awful hours. And that inner light of great strength in her is what will sustain us through the dark days we are living in. She says to us all with Jesus, “Trust in God still and trust in my Son!”

Advent is a season in which we look to God’s promises of old. God was faithful to those promises. Abraham kept faith in God. Moses led the people in faith. The many prophets announced a Saviour in faith. And Mary is the person in whom those promises reach their fulfilment. They all show that faith is not in vain. What a response God provided after Mary’s keeping faith on Calvary: The Resurrection from the dead. Massive.

At this moment of time, when many will be depressed by the dark things going on, be it global events or situations around them in their own lives, we need to renew our faith in the God who holds us all in his hands, who is always in charge, who is faithful to his promises, whose love never fails. The light of faith is that beacon which can help bring so many through present crises. And we legionaries must not be shy in turning to Mary, that Bright Light of Faith, who shows us how to stand trusting even in the darkest hours. Let us ask her help to never give up.

We pray at each of our meeting, “Confer, O Lord on us, who serve beneath the standard of Mary, that fullness of faith in you and trust in her … a faith firm and immovable as a rock, through which we shall rest tranquil and remain steadfast amid the crosses, toils and disappointments of life … a courageous faith … a faith which will be our Legion’s Pillar of Fire … to enlighten those who are in darkness …” It has been there all along, that standard of Faith. But it is modelled on her great faith which withstood Calvary.

How do we deepen our faith and express it? Here is a truth. Only God can do that for us. Mary has said it clearly: he who is mighty has done great things for me. And what greater gift than to bring her, untarnished in her faith, through the suffering of Calvary! And if we take, for example, St. John of the Cross, whose feast day is soon upon us (December 14), then it is often through dark nights of the soul that He digs that well of our faith for us. He just asks one thing: stay with me, trust me.

We should come to him each day and maybe often each day. Even if it is to say, “Lord, help me to pray, Lord, help me in my human limitations, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!” Even if it is just to be there in his presence when words cannot form, be it due to heartbreak or tiredness or exhaustion. Know that Mary has already been there before you.

In today’s Gospel passage of the talents, we can ask ourselves what talents has God given me? He has given us all a share in faith. Let us invest it no matter what. Don’t let fear impede you. That is what the evil servant did, let fear block him. Have faith and share the faith. Every seed of faith sown will bear fruit. For the word of God that goes forth from his mouth does not return without bearing fruit (Is 55:11).

That star of Bethlehem which guided the Magi to Jesus was the light of faith which helped them not to give up.

Mary is the greatest model of that faith.

Ask her for a share in her Bright Light of Faith.