It’s seems like spring in the Bay Area today. The air carries a lovely lightness, as though the cold had been somehow heavy. The cherry and plum trees have blossomed, as they often do in late February, and new growth is working through the shrubbery about our house. We’ve had plenty of rain this year, and the hills are the green of Tuscany in May, a soothing green of promise, happy to the eye.
And Lent calls us, even as the days do truly lengthen, calls us to prepare for Easter.
I’m working slowly on my additional memory work for the season, John 1:1-14, allowing the words to move into my soul, become part of me. In him was life, and the life was the light of the men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. I love that this is the Gospel for Christmas Day, when the word did indeed become incarnate. I’ve revived earlier pieces learned in other Lents, golden melodies heard more clearly each year: Psalm 139, the Ash Wednesday Collect, the Te Deum. We move through Lent, out of the dark and into the light.
Darkness and light. Today at Saint Peter’s the Epistle (Ephesians 5:1) was about walking as children of light by obeying God’s commands, that with Christ’s light this is possible. The pairing Gospel story (Luke 11:14) tells of Christ casting out demons, a true exorcism. Our good Father Pomroy explained that in the early Church, the Lenten season was a period of instruction for catechumens leading to their baptism on Easter Eve. Only after baptism could they partake in the mysteries of the Mass. On the first and third Sundays of Lent, evil spirits were cast out as part of this formation. Remnants of those days of exorcism remain in today’s baptismal liturgy when the priest asks: “Do you denounce the devil and all his works…” This slow revelation of the mysteries of the Mass was calleddisciplina arcana, or secret teaching.
Exorcism, demons, darkness. Do demons exist today? I believe they do, taking many forms, and always seeking a secure place in my own little heart. How do I exorcise them? How do I shine light on them to make them scatter? I cannot do it on my own. I can only say yes to Christ, allow him to wash me clean; allow him to live within me.
And to say yes is to receive him in the Eucharist, a mystery those catechumens knew so long ago. Through the communion of believers, baptized into the Church over two thousand years, we all partake of a great host of light.
I left Saint Peter’s this morning, renewed, cleansed, en-lightened, having swept and brightened the dark corners of my soul. I stepped out into the nearly spring day, the sun warm, the newly green leaves rustling. The world, once again, had been reborn. I had been reborn.