Publisher Scott Richert writes in today's "From the Chapel" post: Throughout the coming weeks, we…
We’ll leave the light on for you
For about a month and a half now, I have been back in the OSV offices one or two days a week. After 15 months of working from home, that experience is a bit odd. There are many things I miss about our previous life in the office, but there are other daily activities that I prefer to do at my standing desk (really, a solid oak pub table handcrafted by a departed colleague) in my library at home.
With each passing week, I run into more of my colleagues at the office, and it’s good to see them in person rather than through the jittery video of a Microsoft Teams call. The experience of social isolation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has left nearly everyone grateful for human contact, even those who intend to continue to spend more time working from home than in the office.
Up on the second floor of the office, long the home of OSV’s Content Team, our Advertising Department and the OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation, the halls are still mostly dark, and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit has been, too. On March 23, 2020, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb had issued an executive order requiring all nonessential businesses to close for two weeks, and all employees who could work from home in essential businesses to do so. That day, OSV’s chaplain, Msgr. Owen Campion, and I consumed the Body of Our Lord that had been reserved in the tabernacle of the chapel, and I blew out the sanctuary lamp. We couldn’t leave Christ alone while the building sat empty.
Since that day, Monsignor has celebrated the occasional Mass for those employees who were in the office, and the past few weeks, he has offered Mass every Thursday, as our senior leadership team has resumed meeting in person. But the tabernacle lay empty, and the candle remained unlit. Until recently.
On Monday, June 7, Monsignor celebrated Mass for eight employees, the largest group to have gathered in the chapel since this ordeal began, and he consecrated a large host and placed it in the tabernacle at the end of Mass. The candle I had blown out over 15 and a half months ago stubbornly refused to light, so we lit a brand-new candle — a fitting symbol of a new hope.
Two years ago, I wrote in this space about my experience of returning to the Catholic Church on the eve of the First Sunday of Advent in 1986. I had been away for only four weeks, but it didn’t take me even that long to get lost. As I wandered, despondent, that night through the relentless sleet of late November in Michigan, the soft yellow light of the Church of the Resurrection, spilling out onto the slushy sidewalk, caught my eye.
The light, though, was only a sign of the Presence within, and it was that Presence who called me home.
When I have visited the OSV chapel since March 23, 2020, I didn’t need the lack of the light from the sanctuary lamp to tell me that the tabernacle was empty. I felt the absence of that Presence even before I walked through the door, just as, on the streets of Lansing 35 years ago, I felt that Presence calling me, even though, at first, I thought it was just the light drawing me into the church. I’m glad to see the sanctuary lamp lit once again, but the light is only a sign of that which brings joy to my heart.
A sign, as the Catholic novelist Walker Percy might have said, isn’t a sign unless it has something to signify. The flame of the sanctuary lamp in OSV’s Chapel of the Holy Spirit isn’t the light of the world, but that steady flame, lit once again, means more than any other candle in the world because of what — or rather who — it signifies.
Scott P. Richert is publisher for OSV.