Thanksgiving is past. The secular “Christmas season” and the Christian season of Advent have arrived. We are preparing for, and we are in the midst of, many festivities. It seems that Christmas lights are obligatory as we prepare for the parties and for the Christmas holiday itself.
I, too, am part of this cultural trend. I have been on a ladder and on the roof of my house trying to figure out what lights and extension cords I need and which directions all of them should go. At some point, I’ll probably even have to brave the traffic and the shopping crowds to procure proper gifts for my loved ones.
As I was pondering all of these realities and endeavors, I realized that I need an intercessor. In the midst of pondering, the Lord provided a swift and solid answer. St. Lucy, whose name means “light,” is exactly the intercessor I need! She’s the intercessor that all of us need! She can provide immense help, and a great example, during this season of lights as we all try to bring the light and love of Jesus a little more fully into our world.
St. Lucy lived in the late-third century (born in A.D. 283). She was born to a noble family on the island of Sicily. During her teenage years, she chose a life of consecrated virginity because she wanted to be totally devoted to God and Jesus. Additionally, she wanted to serve the poor by giving away all of her worldly goods. The fiancé whom her family had arranged for her did not appreciate her desires and her plan, and he handed her over to the local Roman government during the brutal persecution of emperor Diocletian. She met her death at just 20 years of age.
While relatively little is known about her life, we do know that the Church venerates her memory in an important way. After all, she is one of just a few women whose names are mentioned specifically in the Roman Canon, the first and longest Eucharistic prayer that we pray at Mass. Even if this is all we know of her, we still can look to her light, her example of holiness, for assistance in our lives, especially during times like these when lights are prominent.
Two examples from her life make the point. First, Lucy consecrated herself as a virgin, vowing to live out the virtue of chastity in a particular way. All of us may not be called to consecrated virginity, but every one of us is called to cultivate the virtue of chastity, which allows us to see the world rightly and to love others fully in the proper way. Chastity allows our minds and bodies to be full of light, just as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt. 6:22). In this season during which we are preparing for the advent of the Light of the World, we should pray that we can cultivate the purity of heart (that is, chastity) that will allow us to see most clearly and shine most brightly.
The second example from her life may be more powerful than the first. Instead of continuing to live by the amassed wealth of her family, she chose to use all of her worldly goods in service of the poor. Isn’t this a powerful example during this season of rampant consumerism! Too many times, we get caught up in thinking about what we want for Christmas or how much we can buy with our allotted Christmas budgets. It would be fantastic if each of us made a concerted effort to bring joy and light to the poor during these holidays, even to the point of giving up material goods that we desire, because we know that it is for their good and our own.
It is no coincidence that her feast day, December 13, is right in the middle of this season of lights. So, let’s ask for her intercession, not just on her feast day but throughout the whole season. Let’s ask her to pray for us as we climb ladders to string lights on our homes, as we enter into shops decorated with myriad lights, and as we attend company, family, or neighborhood Christmas parties. Let’s ask her to help us love others in a way that brings the bright light of Jesus to them. Let’s ask her to help us grow in the virtue of generosity, so we delight in focusing on others more than on ourselves. In all these ways, St. Lucy can help us bring a little more of the light we all need into the world.