Corpus Christi: Shining Like the Sun
Fr John Allen Green OFM – Our first window opens on March 18, 1958. Thomas Merton’s experience in Louisville happened in the middle of an ordinary day when Merton was running errands for the monastery.
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the centre of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realisation that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realise what we all are. And if only everybody could realise this! But it cannot be explained.
There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
Our second window opens here in South Africa many years later. I had just attended afternoon “house-maid’s” Holy Mass at St Pius X church in Waterkloof, Pretoria, and had walked out onto the portico of the church. The light seem to change and take on this “glowing luminescence”, with a soft yellow light seeming to emanate from everything that I looked upon; the oneness of things. There was an interconnectedness of Love between myself and the people around me and everything that I beheld; this seemed also to expand and extend far beyond the limits of my vision and hearing. It was as though the Lover who is in the very fibre of creation was made known to me.
Our third window takes place in Canterbury Cathedral, at night; a little pilgrimage to experience the city lights flowing in through the beautiful stained-glass windows into the darkened cathedral. A magical experience of dancing colours retelling the story of God’s journey with us, his people.
The Anglican woman priest in charge of the cathedral tells her own story of love experienced; holding up the bread of the Eucharist for the first time with the words, “This Is My Body”. This is the connectedness of a love bond giving birth to new life, “you in me and I in you”.
When God speaks, it is and it has been; it is God’s embodiment into every time and all space; from the primordial black abyss of “nothingness”; God is “Birther of the Cosmos”. And so with St Francis, we also sing
“The Canticle of the Creatures”:
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honour, and all blessing, To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather, through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.