Praying in the Dark

Categories: Features

A few people have told me that it’s easier for them to pray in the dark than in the light. So why is that? C.S. Lewis inquires, “Why must holy places be dark places?”

Perhaps there is more than one answer to this question. But one answer seems to be that darkness comes with uncertainty. When I’m in the dark, I cannot see; and so creepy things could come right up to me, and I would never see them coming. And it’s in those moments of uncertainty that we feel most dependent on God. Of course, we are always dependent on God, but we tend to be more aware of this when we are in the dark.

Today we find ourselves in a kind of darkness, namely, the darkness of uncertainty about COVID-19 and its ripple effects in our society. We are “in the dark” insofar as we cannot see what will happen tomorrow. This darkness is painful. It makes us feel vulnerable and powerless. But this is also our road to salvation, because it teaches us to put our trust in God alone and not in ourselves. Darkness demands that I let go of my self-confidence and simply put myself into the hands of my Heavenly Father. It is by walking through this valley of darkness that we become saints.

Not only does darkness help us to contemplate our dependency on God, but it also helps us to contemplate Christ as the ‘light of the world.’ Christ’s light is emphasized at the Easter Vigil when all the lights go out except for one, the Pascal Candle, which represents Him shining forth into a world of darkness. This year, I imagine that many people will continue this symbolism by turning off their living-room lights as they watch the Easter Vigil live-streamed.

Christ conquered the darkness by rising from the dead. Christ has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Christ is always with us to guide us through the darkness. And so, when we find ourselves trapped in darkness, let us call upon Christ our light.

Br. Patrick Rooney, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE