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By Sean Byrne

A number of days ago my daughter who was in the midst of doing her Leaving Certificate examination had her head out through her upstairs bedroom window, when she greeted me and told me that she was observing a fox in a stand off with three rabbits. I just paused in gratitude that the younger generation was getting some pleasure out of the local biodiversity and nature in order to take a break from her studies.

In Laudato Si on care for the earth and our common home, Pope Francis sees the presence of God in all creatures. He says in his ending prayer

“They are yours filled with your presence and tenderness of love”.

As we reflect when the summer days are at their longest and the sun is at its highest in the sky our collective mood is at its highest. This is in stark contrast when some people feel Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as a result of low mood from low light. This is even more serious for people living in Scandinavians Countries.

The recent graduation ceremony of LEAVING Certificate students from Colaiste Bhride from Carnew had a theme of Light and had many worthy thoughts and ideas.

Each human being is a unique beautiful person who is a light in the world. That light comes from within. Each person brings light into the room and brings energy to each situation. That energy can be a form of light, even if it is only a smile. Jesus says “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14:16), when we are asked to work for the support in friendship for all. As young people try to discover their niche in life, Oprah Winfrey once advised “You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own world can illuminate the world”.

People need insight and the light of wisdom in order that they can make decisions that will bring them on the right path to enrich their own lives and those around them. The light of the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of Confirmation is a major conduit of this wisdom.

Family structures and community backup play a major role in the Light of Love.

No matter what troubles come in life the warmth of home can quench a large aspect of this pain no matter what the pain is. We think of the symbolism of the light of the candle burning in the window, which was championed by former President Mary Robinson for all emigrants and people who had lost their way in the world.

The light of memory and in particular the light of pleasant family memories and community memories can play a very important role in the make up of a young person. When these go well a very secure, well rounded, morally good person is formed. Jesus says “I have come into the world as a light “(John 12:46). We are called to spread the light everyway possible in our everyday lives.

Light also implies perseverance and resilience particularly in a scientific context. Even though Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb and other electric items, he failed many hundreds of times before he succeeded.

Light also implies energy, one hour’s energy from the sun it is claimed can give enough energy for the earth for a full year.

Light also has a biblical context, in the book of Genesis we are told when God was creating the world, God said “Let there be light, God saw the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness night.”

In Johns Gospel (8:12) Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will bear the light of life.” This perhaps is the ultimate message of hope for young people. The light that maps the way, or shines on and gives good direction. The hope of eternal life, the hope of something far bigger than we are, the pointer in the direction of a good fulfilling life.

We are challenged as a society to provide the light of life to our young people.

We need to shower them with love, security and positive leadership in areas such as social justice and climate justice. To paraphrase an old African proverb if the child does not feel the warmth of the village, they will return to burn it down. In other words, it is up to us as a Christian community to put our arms around young people and make them cherished and belonged at a young age.

Light also implies change, passing the baton on just like a good relay team. In a sporting term it would mean getting the underage structures right. Let us embrace change rather than running from it. I will conclude with a quotation from A PARENT’S BLESSING by Christy Kenneally

“Today, as we watch you,

Moving forward with your friends

We marvel at all you have done and become

Our spirits sing praise to God

For the gift that is you

And, though our hearts

Have stretched to love others

Yet, there is a place within us

That is yours, and yours, always

For the light that you have shone on us,

For the light you have called us to,

For the special gift of God

You are now and will ever be,

Thank you.


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