Traditional Mass

Monday, November 05, 2007

Continued . . .

50--What is the purpose of the sanctuary lamp?

The custom of having a sanctuary lamp burning before the tabernacle does not go back to the beginnings of the Church, for the very good reason that the Blessed Sacrament was not then reserved in the tabernacle as it is today. Everything ended with the Mass. The Holy Eucharist for the sick was kept in private homes.

The role of the sanctuary lamp is to remind us of the presence of Jesus and to represent us before the Blessed Sacrament. Doubtless, the Master prefers "living lamps" to candles, and we ought often to keep the Divine Host of our tabernacles company. . . . If only we loved God a little more, our churches and chapels would not be so deserted all day long. . . . Is it not true that when one loves a person, he often visits him? . . .

The sanctuary lamp typifies our soul. Its flame is like a living thing. Warm, luminous, ever in movement, ever seeking to rise higher, it is the image of our interior. Unceasingly, its flame is directed toward the heights. The merest breath causes it to waver, but it nevertheless continues to mount and to transmit the light and warmth it has received. Of itself this material light does not speak to God--it is for us to give it a voice expressive of our lives wholly given to God. We, too, despite our continual tendency to seek higher things, sometimes feel our high aspirations falter beneath the boisterous blasts of the world and its pleasures. . . . Always, however, we must seek to rise to the summit of perfection, to illumine, warm, and transfigure other souls, strayed from the path of duty.

Let us then often draw nigh to the tabernacle for a few moments of profound recollection. After this fruitful visit, let us calmly return to our appointed tasks; not without first having pointed to the flickering flame of the vigil lamp and whispering, "Lord, this lamp stands for my soul, which will never leave You."
[Excerpted from 'Your Mass and Your Life,' to be continued . . .]