God’s candles

A few years ago I had the opportunity to watch the 2003 film Maria Goretti which tells the story of a 12-year old Italian girl who was brutally stabbed to death for refusing to submit to the sexual advances of a family friend. On her death bed she forgave her attacker, a young man who later repented and asked for and received forgiveness from her mother. He became a lay brother in a monastery and in 1950 attended, along with her mother, Maria’s canonization. One of the youngest saints, she is called the patron saint of the young.

A candle in the darkness

A candle in the darkness

What was so striking was the mesmerizing aura of beauty that the young actress, Martina Pinto, projected into her role as Maria. While she was naturally gifted with beauty and grace, there was an ineffable quality that came from within that was of greater import in her portrayal as the young saint.

Most of us can recall encountering someone for whom you sensed specialness, someone who exuded an inner glow and an ineffable quality of being that left you feeling inadequate in their presence.  It is as if their soul is struggling to break free from its mortal bonds and touch the face of God.

There is purity and an innocence that radiates from a soul so filled with love and tranquility and we instinctively desire to shelter it, to blanket it within a protective embrace so as to keep it from the world and all its dark, forbidding ways. But who are we protecting when we isolate such extraordinary beauty from our ordinary eyes? Could it be that we are shamed by our common nature whenever we find ourselves in the presence of one so graced? Should not we lift the veil and let the light that shines so brightly illuminate the world cloaked in darkness?

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.[1] There can be little doubt that Jesus was an extraordinary human being who projected that ineffable quality of being wherever he traveled and with whomever he encountered. And his disciples often felt compelled to protect him, to hide him away from a world that wished to do him harm. But imagine a world without Jesus. Imagine how dark and forbidding it would be without the “light of the world,” how great would be our despair without his presence.

We know and believe that Jesus was and is the only Son of God. He came into the world to bring light to those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death and sin. Yet that does nothing to diminish or remove from our presence those of whom God chooses to send among us to serve as reminders and witnesses of his great love.

There are saints living among us now, living reminders of God’s mercy and love, souls who reflect the light of Christ with their very being. It is not for us to protect them from all the evil that exists in the world nor is it necessary for us to hide the light that is theirs to illuminate. For they are God’s candles, sent to keep the darkness from overshadowing the light that is the Christ.


[1] Jn 8:12.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.