While Ye Have the Light of Life

Visitation, Beato Angelico

2 Jan. 3 May. 2 Sept.

Let us then at length arise, since the Scripture stirreth us up, saying: “It is time now for us to rise from sleep” (Romans 13:11). And our eyes being open to the deifying light, let us hear with wondering ears what the Divine Voice admonisheth us, daily crying out: “To-day if ye shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Psalm 9:8, Hebrews 3:15). And again, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches” (Apocalypse 2:29). And what saith He? “Come, my children, hearken to Me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 33:11). “Run while ye have the light of life, lest the darkness of death seize hold of you” (John 12:35).

So imbued is Saint Benedict with the Word of God that he expresses himself spontaneously in a chain of passages from Sacred Scripture beginning with Saint Paul’s energetic exhortation: “It is time now for us to rise (surgere) from sleep” (Romans 13:11). Saint Benedict, quoting Saint Paul, uses here the very word by which Saint Luke describes the Blessed Virgin in the mystery of the Visitation: Exsurgens autem Maria in diebus illi,  — And Mary rising up in those days —  (Luke 1:39). Wherever the Holy Ghost is present, souls experience His quickening action. Under the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, souls spring into movement. Thus do we see, in the mysteries of Our Lady’s Annunciation and Visitation, as in the text of the Holy Rule, the double operations of impression and expression: the impression of the Word received in faith becomes the Word expressed in hope and in charity.

The Virtue of Hope
Saint Benedict would have us see in the light of every new day a call to spiritual resurrection, a summons to begin afresh from Christ. Here again, today, we find the supernatural optimism — an expression of the virtue of hope — that characterizes Benedictine life. Saint Thomas says concerning hope: “Hope makes us tend to God, as to a good to be obtained finally, and as to a helper strong to assist” (IIa IIae, q. 17).

Christ, the Dayspring from on High
Saint Benedict would have us make of each new day an act of hope. One who rests his hope in the grace of Christ Jesus will not be disappointed. One whose eyes have been opened to the deifying light, that is, “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:6) cannot remain in darkness. The verse we sing at monastic profession expresses the spirit in which we arise each morning to greet the day: Et non confundas me ab expectatione mea. “And let me not me disappointed in my hope” (Psalm 118:116).  Christ is “the sun of justice who rises with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2). He is, as we sing every morning in the Benedictus, “the dayspring from on high who hath visited us, to enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78–79).

These things I shall think over in my heart, therefore will I hope. The mercies of the Lord are not consumed: because his commiserations have not failed. They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21–23)