Sunday, November 02, 2014

Playing the Tabor lightly

Sermon preached at Our Ladyof Walsingham and St Francis on the Sunday in the Octave of All Saints

You may not know that the Anglican Catholic Church accepts the Seventh Oecumenical Council.

Now that sounds a lot like priest-speak, but it's actually very important. The Seventh Oecumenical Council states that images of the saints and of Our Lord may be venerated. This does NOT mean that we worship pictures and statues as some may think of us. That would break the Second Commandment.

The point is that when we venerate an image, we are recognising the person depicted and respond accordingly, much as we would respond emotionally to a photograph or picture of our parents and other family photos.

If we see an image of Our Lord, then we think of Him and we worship Him. If it is an image of Our Lady, then we recognise the Queen Mother of Heaven and we pay due respect. If it is the image of a saint, then we see a human being pointing to God. We show them respect and look where they're pointing.

Most images we see in Church come in the for of ikons. The pictures are written by people who undergo spiritual discipline in order to faithfully show the likeness of the citizens of Heaven. Each saint is painted in a particular way. It looks as if light is breaking out of their skin. This is called the light of Tabor, the same light that shone from the face of Moses when he came down to the Israelites from Mount Tabor. Citizens of Heaven shine with this light, for this is the light of God.

Sainthood, as you know, is bound up with holiness- being set apart by God for His purposes, especially shining His light in the world. We are all called to be saints; we are predestined for sanctification, but this does not mean that this is a foregone conclusion.

You may have noticed that, when you look in the mirror, your face doesn't shine with Divine Light. We're not exactly obvious when it comes to shining God's light in the World. It is there though, so how do we see it?

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."

Seeing God is a matter of looking inwardly into ourselves and realising the ways in which we are not pure in heart. This is a lifetime's work - you can't do it in a day. Yet it is the way in which our eyes are opened to the saints around us. Not just the obvious ones like St Francis or Our Lady, but in everyday folk, the people around us.

All are capable of being saints.
All are capable of shining with Divine light.
All can receive purification if we pray for it and allow God's grace to enter our lives to cast out all impurity in our thinking, words, deeds and even our being.

We should venerate our saints by bowing down to the God with whose light they shine like stars for all Eternity. When will we see this light in the mirror?

1 comment:

Fr Anthony said...

A heavy sea makes for big waves, which can be a heaving swell or nasty short-frequency breaking waves caused by a tidal race and a contrary wind.

As a seaman, I have experienced the titanic power of even fairly small waves of only a few feet. As a priest-skipper once said to me - "The sea teaches us modesty". A boat can always cope with wind by shortening sail, but waves are always to be feared and respected.