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Lead Kindly Light: by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on;
The Night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on:
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene;one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead thou me on.
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O'er moon and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile."
It is an inevitable thing that in this life one will encounter darkness.  Yes it is a guarantee, a part of the human condition, imposed upon us by the mysterious God.  I would even argue that this darkness, is a part of the human condition as a result of the great fall of our first parents Adam & Eve.  In a stunning contradiction without darkness there is no possibility of light.  Darkness is the flip side of the coin of the human condition.  I would even argue that the darker the darkness is the brighter the light.  Think about it for a second...

Have you ever driven down a dark road?  Have you ever noticed that the darker the night the brighter the light seemed.  Now is this because the light was brighter?  No, of course not. The reason for this is that the darkness was greater.  In this case the darkness only served to illumine the light.  One could even argue that the role of the darkness was to expose the light.   Darkness viewed from this angle, can be a path to an even brighter light.  You might ask, "How does one encounter this light?"  The answer is simple; through darkness.

Oh how I wish that this were not the case because who likes the darkness in the first place?  Ever since a child is born it is almost instinctively instilled in him to fear the darkness.  How many times have you heard the expression from a child, "Mommy, Daddy, I am scared of the dark?"  As humans we fear the darkness, the great unknown, this sensual blindness, the pervading gloom that comes with the darkness.  But in the greatest of all paradoxes we must learn to embrace the darkness in order to relish the light.  Think about it for a second...

Jesus had to endure the cross before he would resurrect and become the savior that the world needed.  St. Francis, had to endure the humiliating scorn of his family, nation,poor health, before he could become that beacon of holy poverty that the church needed. Blessed John Paul II had to endure both the Nazi, and Communist oppressions, before he could become that great spiritual leader that the world needed. Nelson Mandela had to spend 27 years on Robben Island before he could become that great leader that his nation needed.  Blessed Mother Theresa had to endure over 30 years of spiritual darkness, so she could become the mother that Calcutta needed.  Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman had to endure both the painful rejection of both his former Anglican companions and of the ecleiastical hierarchy in the Catholic Church before he could become that intellectual light that the Catholic and Anglican Church needed.  Victor Frankel had to endure 3 tortuous years in various concentration camps before he could become that voice of unshakable hope and horror that the world needed after World War II.

Ender Johann: From Darkness The Light
What do all of these persons have in common?  The first answer is that they survived the darkness.  But this is not the complete answer.  The true miracle in all of these encounters is that they made the most of the darkness while they were suffering through it.  It is one thing to survive and another to thrive. These great men and women thrived and became even greater in spite of the darkness.  Their great contributions to mankind were in direct proportion to the darknesses that they all experienced. As a result of the darkness they became that bright, inextinguishable light that cut through the oppressive static of the world's darkness.

We must always remember that there is meaning in suffering; that all of us have the same capacity for greatness like the people mentioned above.  The only difference between us and them is that they accepted the darkness and in turn through their acceptance their darkness became light.  It is like they became darkness alchemists, changing the matter of darkness into light.  We have the same power, if we decide to make this decision everyday.  Chances are that most of us will not have to encounter the horrific sufferings that these people did.   However, we are all called to be that enduring light that the world craves irrespective of whatever profession or state of life we are in.   We must boldly exclaim as Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman did when he stated,

"Oh my Lord, that through thy grace I will follow thee whithersoever Thou goest, and will not lead the way.  I will wait on thee for thy guidance and on obtaining it, I will act upon it with simplicity and without fear.  And I promise that I will not be impatient, if at anytime I am kept by Thee in darkness and perplexity; nor will I ever complain or fret if I come into any misfortune or anxiety." -from his meditation titled, Resignation to God's Will


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