We light our candles–to see each other in the dark | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


“By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

After the Trump victory, I saw several people—I am sure there were so many more, not to mention the memes—posting messages that we should pray more. My instinct was to agree that we need more prayers, but I started to think that we should also act more.


I came across what my good friend, Fr. Art Borja, SJ, posted, “(sigh… sigh) somewhere in the distant past—oh how so seemingly distant it is—we would say, ‘It’s better to light a candle, than curse the darkness!’”


Ah, yes, how seemingly distant it was when perseverance in prayer and action—the discernment, choice and action process of a contemplative in action—led us to light a candle that set our country on fire and the world.

Confluence of events

The recent confluence of events  invites us to reflect and enter the solitude of our soul and heart, the sacred space where we encounter God. But we must move from the solitude of sacred space back into the world to do what God asks of us.


Yes, please, let us enter our sacred space and may I give this “pabaon” for your consideration.


One of the lights of our modern era is Mahatma Gandhi, an epitome of perseverance. The Oscar-winning movie of his life depicts how he seemingly was a solitary candle in the dark when he started his crusade.


Despite the obstacles, he  stood his ground and continued his work and advocacy through nonviolent action. The perseverance created one of the greatest movements in history, what we now call the nonviolent movement for change.

Movement for change

Parker Palmer, educator, writes about the four stages of a movement in the article “Divided No More: A Movement Approach to Educational Reform.”


First, individuals feel this disconnect or anomaly in their life, “leading divided lives,” and they decide (or at least desire) to stop living this divided life.

Second, these individuals discover each other and decide to band for mutual support, thus forming a community with this foundational inspiration of the desire and decision to regain wholeness and integrity.


Third, “empowered by community, they learn to translate ‘private problems’ into public issues.”

Fourth, “alternative rewards emerge to sustain the movement’s vision, which may force the conventional reward system to change.”


The divided life is basically a disconnect between our interior and exterior lives. As many spiritual and psychology writers say: welcome to the human situation. Yet this discovery of our dividedness is an invitation to reflect and make a choice to live our life divided no more and to reintegrate.


This requires choice and such a choice needs prayer and reflection that will guide us to the right action. This is perseverance, to be consistently a contemplative in action in the same way Gandhi was and gave birth to the nonviolent movement; in the same way Ignatius of Loyola did that led to the founding of the Society of Jesus; in the same way—the most excellent way—that Christ lived his life and opened for us the way to eternal life of justice, peace and love.

He showed with his own life of perseverance that, indeed, it is the path to secure one’s life and eternal life at that.


So it is that we must start our movement that leads to eternal life where true justice and equality, and peace and love reign. This is the real change, the only real change that transforms our life towards real justice and peace that finds fulfillment in real love.


We must light our candles to discover each other in the darkness. Darkness does not extinguish light; it dies only when we allow it to die. Christ is the light that will shatter the darkness.


As the first reading from Isaiah in the Christmas Midnight Mass prophesies, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.”


There are no accidents in God’s plan. This is what I believe in and this is what gives me hope.  A light will shine and “by your perseverance you will secure your lives.”


To live in faith and hope in this promise is what will form us as a community and it is only in such a community, as Palmer points out, that we will be empowered individually and collectively.

Let us light our candles and “go forth and set the world on fire.” This is the real change. —CONTRIBUTED