When I found out that St. Peter’s keeps their Christmas tree and crèche up in the square until February 2, I decided we would keep our crèche in the chapel and all our Christmas lights up until then as well. I always felt gypped that there were not 40 days to celebrate after Christmas as there are after Easter. Then I discovered that February 2, the Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas), is indeed 40 days after Christmas. So, to me, it makes total sense to keep those Christmas lights lit. If you drive past our house right now, you will still see our candle lights in the windows. I personally love clusters of little white lights. When we begin the Salve Regina at the end of night prayer, the guitarist dims all the lights in our chapel. During this season, that leaves only the Christmas lights and the sole candle lit before the icon of the Mother of God. Yet the chapel still seems bright.
In the beginning of his Christmas message, Pope Benedict spoke of how God “loves to light little lights.” I found that particularly encouraging as I thought of all of us who are desiring to be God’s witnesses to hope. May it encourage you as well, and may you call it to mind whenever you see Christmas lights and candles:
The liturgy of the Mass at Dawn reminded us that the night is now past, the day has begun; the light radiating from the cave of Bethlehem shines upon us. . . .
At first, beside the manger in Bethlehem, that “us” was almost imperceptible to human eyes. As the Gospel of St. Luke recounts, it included, in addition to Mary and Joseph, a few lowly shepherds who came to the cave after hearing the message of the Angels. The light of that first Christmas was like a fire kindled in the night. All about there was darkness, while in the cave there shone the true light “that enlightens every man” (Jn 1.9). And yet all this took place in simplicity and hiddenness, in the way that God works in all of salvation history. God loves to light little lights, so as then to illuminate vast spaces.
May we allow God to light each of us, little lights in this darkened world.