Images of Light in Our Maronite Tradition

Taken from "Captivated by Your Teachings", by Father Anthony J. Salim

Images of Light
In the midst of doubt, darkness --whether physical, or spiritual, intellectual or emotional--can be dispelled by light. Our Maronite ancestors knew this truth, and they were fond of expressing much about the spiritual life in terms of light, which pervades the whole Tradition. As you pray the liturgical services, the image of light appears again and again. God is light; the Kingdom is one of light; faith is light in our souls. This image is prominent in the thought of the East. Nowhere is this seen better in the Maronite Tradition than in the Noohro, or .Hymn of Light,. in Morning Prayer of the Divine Office
(Safro). It says, in part:

The light of the just and the joy of the upright is
Christ Jesus our Lord.
Begotten from the Father, he manifested himself to us.
He came to rescue us from darkness and to fill us with
the radiance of his light..
Day is dawning upon us; the power of darkness is fading
From the true light there arises for us the light which
illumines our darkened eyes..
He brings salvation and grants us life.
He ascends to his Father on high.
He will return in glorious splendor and shed his light
on those gazing upon him.

This emphasis on light is not mere poetry. Light is a strong and vibrant image of the reality of God’s Presence among and power in us. Most of all, its very characteristic –brightness - is cause for our hope, on many levels of our life, here and hereafter.   The Maronite Divine Service begins with the Lighting of the Church. As the lights of the church are turned on, and the candles in the sanctuary are lighted, the Congregation sings:

In your light we see light,
Jesus, Lord of light.
You are true light
who enlightens all creation.
With your light enlighten us,
gladden us with your bright dawn.
Pure and holy One,
you dwell in heaven.s bright light.
Keep destructive hate and hardship
far away from us.
Help us live in righteousness;
help us purify our hearts..