Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia, 2016
Song of Solomon 6:1–9
Revelation 19:5–8
John 1:9–13
Psalm 131

Loving God, for the salvation of all you gave Jesus Christ as light to a world in darkness: Illumine us, with your daughter Lucy, with the light of Christ, that by the merits of his passion we may be led to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

As with most Saints of the early Church, the story of St. Lucy is shrouded in mystery.  We know that she lived in Syracuse, and was martyred during the Diocletian persecution of Christians.  Beyond that, it depends on which version of the story you believe.  Most accounts have her born to a wealthy family, to a Christian father and Greek pagan mother.  After her father died, she pledged her dowry to feeding the poor, against her mother’s wishes.  Her mother, fearing for Lucy’s future, pledged her to a wealthy local pagan.  However, her mother became sick, and after a pilgrimage to a Christian shrine, she was healed.  Then she agreed to Lucy’s plan to spend the dowry on the poor, which angered the man to whom she had been pledged, such that he told the authorities of her Christian faith, which resulted in her possibly being tortured, but definitely being executed.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Lucy’s story, and the connection to us today, is in the description of her service to the others, who were living under this same persecution.  It is said that Lucy visited the faithful, hiding out in the catacombs.  She would bring them food and encouragement.  And in order to carry as much food as possible, Lucy wore candles on her head rather than carry them, so that both her hands were free to hold the food along the way.  If you’ve ever seen any sort of Santa Lucia procession, that’s why the young lady wears what looks like an advent wreath on her head: to light the way, while bringing sustenance.

But there is more:  the name Lucy has the same Latin root as the word for light.  Her name means “of the light.”  You can perhaps see why Santa Lucia is so popular a festival in places like Sweden and Norway.  While the winter days get shorter all over the northern hemisphere, in those northern European countries, the sun hardly comes out at all.  The battle between light and darkness is far more stark in that region, and it’s no coincidence that the feast of Santa Lucia is closely linked with the Yule festivals and the winter solstice, when the light returns to the world.

St. Lucy is a symbol of hope in the midst of despair.  She brings the promise of light to those who live in darkness.  She brings food to the hungry.  In this way, Lucy is emblematic of us as Christians.  We have the message of hope to share with our neighbors.  We bring the light of Christ to a world shrouded in darkness.  We feed the hungry and we share the good news.  In a sense, she is the embodiment of our Baptismal Covenant, in which we seek and serve Christ in all people.

As we continue through Advent, may the coming of the Christ child, the light of the world, inspire us to share God’s good news, and to announce that the light has shined in the darkness, and that the darkness will not overcome it.

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