Light When It Comes

Light When It Comes
Chris Anderson
(William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016)

I had started on this book when I received Fr. Henry Siew’s booklet Encountering the Lord in Daily Life, in which he recommends the Consciousness Examen as one of three “simple forms of prayer”, and which I decided was something I should finally take seriously. I am still struggling with it. It may be simple but it takes a lot of discipline and I have yet to develop the mindfulness to do it properly.

Light When It Comes is serendipitously the practical application of the Examen and so it is a great help for me. What Anderson is showing is that one needs to be attuned to the Lord – that is how to recognise Him in everything. It is such an enjoyable lyrical [just look at the pretty cover!] collection of snippets from the ups and downs, questions and answers, and doubts and hopes of daily life. In both light and darkness, God is always present; it is just that we miss the point sometimes.

I found the sections on “darkness” particularly helpful. They reminded me of reading Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son and coming to the awful and somewhat discouraging realisation that the morose, brooding older brother was me. Everything the father had was his but he wasn’t aware of it – we can only imagine the joy and love that would have been in his heart had he known this, but he was stuck on the darker side of things, where he saw patches of light without catching its full brilliance. The older brother and I have some trouble recognising the light when it comes.

There were parts of the book that struck me like they were written just for me, and I include some of them here, with their chapter titles. I see them as glimpses of light that I need.

Seeing the Light

And the first words that Adam speaks? … the first recorded words of the first man—are poetry.

This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh.

Dying to Ourselves

To pray the examen doesn’t just mean to revel in the light. It means to face the darkness, too: the darkness of suffering, the darkness of our own limitations.


The cross is a lens… It’s our formula for interpreting every situation. What should we do? Whatever conforms us the most closely to the cross. Whatever turns the situation upside down…

What should we do? Whatever empties us. What ever silences us… Whatever gives us the chance to die.

Holding On

I thirst for praise, but praise doesn’t satisfy. I thirst for order, but order doesn’t satisfy. I thirst for certainty: never to be troubled, never to be confused, never to have to wrestle with things in my mind. But certainty doesn’t quench the thirst, and it’s not possible anyway. None of this water is clean and pure. None of this water is the living water.


But we’re being healed of leprosy all the time, and we’re always failing to realize it.

Going Wild

Sometimes where we find ourselves is in the desert. More and more, I think, life is about letting things go, or trying to. It’s about giving things up. It’s about holding things in memory and believing in them still.

Completing Creation

What value is it to the people in our lives if we spend the morning writing a poem, or walking in the woods, or weeding the front flowerbed?

What worth is our joy?

A worth beyond price.


I have said these things to you,” Jesus tells his disciples, “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

But this is the night before the Crucifixion, this is the Farewell Discourse in the Gospel of John, and sadness fills the room. Fear.

How can joy be possible?

Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? (John 11:40)

May we see the Lord of joy and light in all we do!

Excerpts of the book can be found here.

♫ Makes me think of In My Heart

Exploring Our Faith

Exploring Our Faith
by Rev. Anthony Hutjes (2015)

Fr. Anthony explains a range of familiar topics such as the Bible, the Trinity, prayer, sacraments and Mother Mary as well as topics specific to his ministry, with the intention of making “certain aspects of the Catholic faith somewhat more accessible for a broader public” rather than to “say anything new or original about my religion or to create a handbook which tries to cover all details’. Indeed, he clearly explains the teachings, theology and application of some foundational aspects of our faith.

What I will say about the familiar topics is that it is always instructive to revise and revisit what we should know. At the very least, every presentation of these topics encourages a little re-think of how we understand them.

Here, I will focus on the chapters that are particularly significant to his order, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (SS.CC), and the chapter on laypersons.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart draws us into the very heart of Jesus – His “innermost life” and the depths of His being that were the source of everything He did and said. This devotion encourages the “patient meditation” by which we know Jesus better and this is important “because how can you love what you do not know?” We also come close to Jesus through adoration and Communion, and bring Him to others through our imitation of His life.

The Spirituality of St. Damien of Molokai

Now this was something I never knew – that Mahatma Gandhi knew about Fr. Damien. Gandhi said this about him: “There have been few lives in history or legend who lived on the completely spiritual level of Father Damien.” What was it that gave him the capacity to serve God’s people so selflessly and tirelessly? The “source of the heroism of Father Damien” (Gandhi’s words again), Fr. Anthony explains, was the combination of his family background, the Christ-centred spirituality of the SS.CC and his orientation on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the love of His heart.

The SS.CC Mission in Asia

Evangelisation is a “fundamental duty of the people of God” and this non-negotiable inevitably means tackling these elements of modern life – “consumerism, individualism, secularism, relativism, hedonism, materialism”. It needs to be done sensitively, with openness to “dialogue”, and understanding and respect for specific societies and cultures. The SS.CC can do this in their mission in Asia by building upon their charism – celebrating the Eucharist, adoration and contemplation of Christ’s Sacred Heart, with “utter, personal conviction”; by “walking the talk”; “in a life of loving communion”; “with preferential love for the poor”; “in a spirit of dialogue and persuasive adaptation” and “proclaiming an everlasting life”.

The Mission of a Layperson
Fr. Anthony explains what is ultimately and practically important for laypersons, all of whom are called to mission. We build our sense of mission and the strength to carry it out in these ways:

In prayer
prayer is “the breath of faith” and we must search for God “with all your mind, with all your heart, with all your might and all your strength”

In self-sacrificial love towards others
through forgiveness and service

In marriage and family life
by being a sign of Jesus’ love – every marriage in Christ “has to reflect… every single line, every disposition, every moral value of the gospel”

In our love for the poor and those in need
this is a must, and we must love those who are poor materially as well as those poor in other aspects of life, such as the lonely and the rejected

In evangelisation
it is Jesus’ command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 17:18) – it is not just priests but all of us who are called to be “alter Christus” to others, hence “our deepest wish should be that we may become truly Eucharistic people, like Jesus Christ Himself – we may become people, more and more willing to be eaten up by our loving and self-sacrificial concern for God and neighbour.”

In an interview included at the end of the book, Fr. Anthony discusses some challenges of being Christian in our world today. He cautions that one can get “flabby” and “weakened too much by an over-indulgent, egocentric and pampered way of life”. Thus, we must be disciplined and must focus on God and His Kingdom. In addition, “there is no point in people who merely flip through the Bible back and forth” – we need true “conversion” and “much more missionary zeal”.

God, our source of life, has to be our focus.

♫ Makes me think of Seed, scattered and sown