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Soft Light

Night’s dark soul stirs. Chips of life tug at its ear. Just the smallest candle of light peeps through its shadows.

This is the balance-point of time.


Original sin was not really a good or blessed event.

Good Friday had tempted us to guilt—about his wounds, about our sins. About his arms, branded by hurts. He uses them today to hold us, to enfold us. His wounds know somehow the shape of our small selves. Mothering Christ.

At Easter Vigil the cantor sings:

O certe necessarium Adae peccatum
quod Christi morte deletum est!
O felix culpa,
quae talem ac tantum meruit habere Redemptorem!*

Oh truly necessary sin of Adam,
blotted out by the death of Christ!
O blessed fault,
which won so great a redeemer!

Singing in praise of sin? Even though Christ’s death has taken their sin away, is it right to rejoice about sin? Original sin was not really a good or blessed event. Nor is our selfish penchant for misdeed.

Yet we rejoice. Without sin the reason for Christ’s coming would have been absent. With it, Christ’s healed arms can sweep us up, comfort and absolve and hold us. So we are blessed beyond words.

In its midst, night carries the promise of light. In their revolt, sins carry the pledge of forgiveness.

O truly blessed night,
in which earth is wedded to heaven,
and humans to God!

The light is coming. Several rows of people have their candles lit. Over there, several more. Soon half the church awakens to Christ’s gentle light. Then all. Morning has eased their faces into daylight, into the soft, humble glow.

Christ became the night. Christ is the light.

John Foley, SJ
 * The Latin texts are from the Exultet, an ancient chant sung during the Easter Vigil. It is traditionally sung by the deacon after the Paschal candle has been lit and the clergy have processed to the altar.

You are invited to email a note to the author of this reflection:
Fr. John Foley, SJ

Fr. John Foley, SJ, is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.
Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go