Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 25 June |
Saint of the Day: Bl. John the Spaniard
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

O Oriens! O Dayspring: Tonight we surrender what is dark within us


Elizabeth Scalia - published on 12/21/16

Darkness only has consolation for us if we are seeking separation

O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.O Dawn of the East, Brightness of the Light Eternal and Sun of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Some of our favorite passages in Scripture have to do with light:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3) “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light upon my path…” (Psalm 119:105) “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79) “The people in darkness have seen a great light…” (Matthew 4:16)

Why do we like these phrases so well that they bubble up within us with the barest prompting? We don’t even know how that happened — we haven’t purposely committed them to memory — and yet, there they are.

“You are the light of the world…so let your light so shine before men…” (Matthew 5:14) “A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

As children we were afraid of the dark, partly because of our imaginations, certainly, but perhaps also because darkness meant separation. Alone in the dark, we have no parent beside us, and shadows loom about what is familiar until we can no longer recognize it. Darkness is disorienting. The flowers that follow the sun simply close up, when darkness comes.

Darkness only has consolation for us if we are seeking separation. The separation can be benign, as in the necessary, restorative sleep that releases us from the stressful day, or it can be deliberate, because we are trying to find safety, or it can be malignant, because we are doing what is wrong in the sight of God, and (usually) the world, too. Darkness is for isolation, or division or apart-ness. It can oppose the light, or expose the light, but it can never be the light we seek when we are awake, when we are safe, when we are living rightly.

No wonder December 21, with its long, overlong night, is the day we call out O Oriens, O Light, come! Depart not from us. We know to whom it is we truly belong, and we invite him to hurry back to us, separated from us no longer: O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Tonight, we surrender that darkness we still hold within, that there will be nothing but light between us and the one who is Light itself.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
Philip Kosloski
Prayers to be said at the elevation of the host at Mass
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
Theresa Civantos Barber
Celebrate “summer Christmas” with these 5 traditions ...
Cecilia Zinicola
The best method for transforming annoyance and frustration
John Burger
Parents of Amazon CEO donate $12 million to Catholic school
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.