Thursday, December 13, 2007

December 13: St. Lucy


Lucy has long been a popular Advent saint, although she doesn’t appear on our official calendar (she did as a three-year trial but then did not get final approval in what must have been a grumpy moment at a General Convention). Her name means “light” and that’s why her day ended up on what was once, before the reform of the calendar, the shortest day of the year. Not surprisingly, she became very popular in northern European countries, especially in Scandinavia, where the shortest day of the year is significantly short! Thomas Merton wrote a somewhat dark, but lovely poem about her which follows. Merton himself is an “Advent saint,” having died on December 10 in a freak accident.

Lucy, whose day is in our darkest season,
(Although your name is full of light),
We walkers in the murk and rain of flesh and sense,
Lost in the midnight of our dead world’s winter solstice
Look for the fogs to open on your friendly star.

We have long since cut down the summer of history;
Our cheerful towns have all gone out like fireflies in October.
The fields are flooded and the vine is bare:
How have our long days dwindled, now the world is frozen!

Locked in the cold jails of our stubborn will,
Oh hear the shovels growling in the gravel.
This is the way they’ll make our beds for ever,
Ours, whose Decembers have put out the sun:
Doors of whose souls are shut against the summertime!

Martyr, whose short day sees our winter and our Calvary,
Show us some light, who seem forsaken by the sky:
We have so dwelt in darkness that our eyes are screened and dim,
And all but blinded by the weakest ray.

Hallow the vespers and December of our life,
O martyred Lucy:Console our solstice with your friendly day.