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A light to guide the way!

January 20, 2021.

A light to guide the way!

Have you ever been to a church and wondered about all the symbols, and various things in hard to reach places? What they mean, how old they are, do they relate to anything today. I've often found myself wondering, trying to uncover hidden mysteries about these worldly and mysterious treasures. The Sanctuary Lamp is one such item.

Growing up I attend church quite frequently and occasionally I noticed this lamp hanging from the unreachable and grandiose church ceiling, always lit but never reachable. As if trying to say that salvation is always within reach. The Sanctuary Lamp predates the Church, as it was used in ancient synagogue's and always was kept burning, which symbolizes God's eternal presence. Called Ner Tamid in Hebrew, this lamp had incredible significance which God commands in the Old Testament that

"the children of Israel that they bring thee the purest oil of the olives, and beaten with a pestle: that a lamp may burn always, In the tabernacle of the testimony without the veil that hangs before the testimony. And Aaron and his sons shall order it, that it may give light before the Lord until the morning. It shall be a perpetual observance throughout their successions among the children of Israel."
Exodus 27: 20-21

Catholic churches around the world keep this same light lit, as spiritual guides, suspended in front of the tabernacle by a rope or chain. This light is kept burning as a testimony and honor to the presence and holiness of Christ. Catholic Canon Law states "In accordance with traditional custom; near the tabernacle, a special lamp, fueled by oil or wax, should be kept alight to indicate and honor the presence of Christ." However; if the Sanctuary Lamp is extinguished, it means there is no Blessed Sacrament and the tabernacle is empty, its doors wide open awaiting the resurrection and return of our lord. This is done specifically during the Easter Triduum.

The light of the Church is the light of Christ and when darkness comes and engulfs your life, not allowing you to see beyond your dimmed circle, always remember the light. The sanctuary lamp is a beacon, a guide, a gentle reminder of salvation and that we're never alone and to always look for the light, it will be there when you need it most and it will exude its radiance and illuminate your life, and the lives of the people around you.

Acta Apostolicae Sedis 57(1967), page 569; vatican.va/archive

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