Photo: Dan Valenti
Father Bob Vennetti, MIC, blesses and lights the giant Circle of Light candle at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.
Marians Dedicate Circle of Light Candles
By Dan Valenti (Feb 7, 2011)
Curse the darkness or light a candle? Those are the choices in life, especially during difficulties.
Friends of the Marians Fathers of the Immaculate Conception consistently choose the latter, knowing that the Light of Christ can cast away the most unmitigated blackness. In this Light there is hope. Without the Light, there is only despair and darkness.
Members of the Association of Marian Helpers know this lesson well and, though it is not easy especially when one world seems to be falling apart, they work religiously, you might say, to keep their focus on Jesus, The Divine Mercy.
In this way, Marian Helpers were recently sent small pieces of wax and invited to return them to be melted into a large candle of love and light. The Marian Helpers' Circle of Light is a special group of supporters who assist the Marians by pledging to have at least one votive candle lit every month for their prayers and intentions.
Neither Wind, Snow, Nor Ice ...
On Wednesday, Feb. 2, in the middle of a gigantic snowstorm of historical proportions that cut a fierce swath of winter throughout 30 states from Texas to Maine, Fr. Bob Vennetti, MIC, blessed and lit the giant Circle of Light candle at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Eden Hill, Stockbridge, Mass.
About a dozen hardy pilgrims braved the snow and ice to be there on the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Each of those little bits of wax was molded into a beautiful white pillar symbolizing Christ's presence. The many became one, and the Circle of Light candle began to glow. It will remain on the altar at the National Shrine and be used during liturgies.
The "presentation" of the Circle of Light candle brought to the altar each petition, prayer, request, intention, and devotion of every Circle of Light member who responded so generously to the Marians' call. Father Bob began the Mass with a blessing of the candle, saying it "signified the Light of Christ, which, by the lighting of this candle, we invite into our lives."
Throughout the Mass, the tall candle stood to the right of the altar, producing a clean, steady flame. The flame — dazzling white at the outer layer, yellow in the next inner ring, and colorless at the core — delicately flickered, testifying to the Light.
Recognizing Jesus in Our Lives
In his homily, Fr. Bob said the lighting of the candle on the Presentation feast represented "a joint commentary on both Son and Mother" and the need for them as our directors and guides in our pilgrimage journey here on earth. Just as a candle, when lit, enables us to see much further into what would otherwise be darkness, the story of the Presentation lets us see Jesus through the light and testimony of two significant Scriptural figures — Simeon and Anna. Each was in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus there. Each had much to say about the coming of the Lord.
"Simeon and Anna were filled with the Holy Spirit," Fr. Bob said. "They both recognized that this baby was the long-awaited Messiah. Both were up there in years, and yet they persisted in faith that they would not die before seeing the Redeemer" for which Israel had for so many years been waiting. "That redeemer was Jesus, the Light of the all nations.
"Simeon," Fr. Bob said, "was able to see beyond the helpless infant he held in his arms. He sees the Messiah. That's Divine Mercy working in his soul." In the same way, by God's light, we must learn to see Jesus in our everyday lives, in the people we see and the things we do.
'Experience His Light'
As for the prophetess Anna, Fr. Bob called her a woman of endurance, married for seven years only to be widowed. Nonetheless, he said, "She didn't get bitter. She used it as a time of prayer and worship. Anna used her sorrow to get closer to God. When she saw Jesus, she couldn't keep it to herself.
"We can learn from this," Fr. Bob said. "We can learn to invite the Lord into our hearts — the Light of the world represented by this candle we bless today."
Father Bob then related this to the life of St. Faustina, pointing out that on several occasions, she saw apparitions of the Child Jesus, once on the feast of the Presentation. During this apparition, Mary and Joseph also appeared to her at the altar. These extraordinary mystical experiences are meant to reveal the Holy Family's reality, Fr. Bob said, and their availability to us all through prayer and supplication. We likely won't have the grace of experiencing the Holy Family through mystical encounters such as the ones Jesus gave St. Faustina, but we can have equal access to the goodness of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
"Jesus comes into the world to be a living Host in our lives," Fr. Bob said, so we can experience His Light and His love to share with the world. He thanked the many members of the Circle of Light ministry for their unflagging support of the Marian Fathers and of the message of Divine Mercy.
Learn more about the Circle of Light.