“In South Africa, prior to the abolition of apartheid, people used to light candles and place them in their windows as a sign of hope, a sign that one day this injustice would be overcome. At one point, the authorities began to crack down on this. It became illegal to have a lit candle in your window, as illegal as carrying a firearm. The irony of this was not missed by the children. They soon had a joke among themselves: “The government is afraid of candles!”
Eventually, as we know, apartheid was overcome. Reflecting upon the forces that helped overthrow it, it is fairly evident that candles, lit religious candles, were more powerful, ultimately, than were firearms. Hope is more powerful than any army.
But what is hope? Many of us mistake wishing for hope. They are not at all the same. Wishing is fantasy, pure and simple. Thus, for example, I can wish that I might win a million dollars, but that is not connected to any reality. It is simple daydreaming. You do not light a candle for a daydream. To light a candle is to proclaim to the world that our real allegiance is given to something and to someone beyond us.
Hope is based upon a promise, a promise that says that says that God is with us and hears our prayers, such as the heartfelt prayer of Hannah for a child. (1 Samuel 1:9-20). Eventually God did bless her with a child. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.”
(Adapted from Daybreaks; Daily reflections for Advent and Christmas by Ron Rolheiser, OMI, NOVALIS-Saint-Paul University, Ottawa, 2005. Reproduced in Canada with permission . To order: www.novalis.ca; toll-free order line: 1-800-387-7164 or cservicenovalis-inc [dot] com (email))
We invite you to participate in the Hannah Prayer Project by lighting a candle on the following days as a sign of hope, along with the heartfelt prayers of your hearts, conversation, and related actions.
February 2 - World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life
February 12 - World Marriage Day
The Sunday of your choice for honoring those called to the Single Vocation,
May 7 - Vocation Sunday
June 23 - World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests