Children and the Dark

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

I admit it, when I was a child, I was afraid of the dark. Going upstairs in our big old house when it was dark and no one else was up there … well, let’s just say that if it was at all possible, I didn’t!

Aren’t all children afraid of the dark? Aren’t they more inclined to imagine all sorts of dangers? Perhaps the cause for their fear is greater than the obvious reason, for children have an uncanny ability to perceive more about others and their world than we give them credit for.

There are so many ways in which darkness is not a positive reality. Darkness can mean fear of the unknown, certainly. It also is a metaphor for evil, death and destruction. In the dark, my aloneness is stark, often defined by the inability to see or imagine others. Often “bad” things are carried out in the dark, to prevent others from seeing. Secrecy for good or for bad is often referred to as doing something “in the dark”.

When I look at the world today I see so much suffering, turmoil, hatred, unrest, competition, discrimination, exclusion, and I believe all of this and more are expressions of darkness. I think children somehow intuit this truth even though they may not be able to articulate it. Therefore, value light over darkness. Indeed one of the reasons children bring so much hope into the world can be that they “light up our lives”.

As Christians, we believe and celebrate that Christ is the “Light of the world”. Our tradition teaches that, in Christ, darkness (death) has been vanquished and no longer has ultimate control over us. The God-given antidote to the darkness is Jesus Christ; the teaching, example and life of the Son of God hold out for every believer life and light over death and darkness.

Called to be countercultural, the Christian is a person who confronts the darkness, even when it is not convenient or popular to do so. Many of us have been inspired to learn of another who acted with such courage; sometimes in a quiet way, other times on the public stage. Doubtless each of us can recall persons whose words and actions have given us reason to hope.

After all these years, I am still afraid of the dark. But now it is no longer related to the absence of light. I recognize the power of evil and the horrors of the worst of how humans can treat one another. The popularity of modern entertainment: films, TV, computer games and even toys that incorporate violence haphazardly and viciously is astonishing. Every parent should be afraid of this darkness. The proliferation of the billion dollar industry of pornography through the internet is perhaps the most insidious darkness in our society today and an evil that threatens children, men, women, marriages and family.

These final days of Lent offer us an opportunity to think about the shadows
and darkness in our own lives and to choose to step away and into the light. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, confession, is a true gift to everyone who seeks to move into the light. We offer confessions in the Church on Saturday afternoons at 3:15 and, if you can’t make it on Saturdays, we invite you to call the office at 617-242-4664 to schedule a time to meet with a priest.

Maybe we all need to let the children teach us that to be afraid of the dark is an innate defense that needs to be respected and heeded. And furthermore to recognize Christ as the Light that overcomes the darkness, not only in the world but also in each person’s daily life.

Fr. Ronan

Third Sunday of Lent
March 6/7, 2021

In this weekend’s Gospel reading, you may hear the story of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple, a familiar story. The prophets Jeremiah, Zechariah and
Malachi prophesied that when the Kingdom of God was at hand, the Temple would be cleansed of all activities unworthy of an encounter with God.
Christians are often referred to as “Temples of the Lord.”
As stewards of a “Holy Temple” God has entrusted to each one of us, what are we doing to be cleansed of activities unworthy of an encounter with the Lord? This week, reflect on one thing you can do to cleanse the Temple God has given you so that it becomes a more inviting home for Christ Jesus.