What Star Is This? by Anthony Esolen

Column: Illuminations

What Star Is This?

Several years before he died, Pope John Paul II added a new devotion to the Catholic rosary: the Luminous Mysteries. These are moments when Christ shows himself for the first time, in a special outpouring of light for us who have walked in darkness. As with the other sets of mysteries, there are five, all related: the Baptism, when first he is first greeted by the mysterious words of John, "Behold the Lamb of God"; the Wedding at Cana, when he works his first miracle; the Preaching of the Kingdom, when he appears to the people as a teacher who possesses his own authority; the Transfiguration, that time-gathering and time-bursting moment of ecstasy; and the Last Supper, when he gives to his disciples the bread of heaven.

Yet in each of these there is also a kind of quiet and fostering darkness. A bruised reed he shall not break, said the prophet, and indeed, Jesus himself is like the invisible leaven or that smallest of seeds, to whom we look in vain for voluble theology or political garishness. Every revelation leads us deeper into the life of his life, where there is more, and ever more, to know and to love and to worship. Jesus is obvious only to those who find him in the way, a stumbling stone. To the Christian, he is ever new, and so we stand as it were in darkness before him, waiting upon his time, and his light.

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Anthony Esolen is the author of over thirty books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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