Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Patron of "Vitamin See"

The feast of St. Lucy of Sicily, or Santa Lucia (d. c. 304), was preempted by the third Sunday of Advent this year. She is one of the most venerated virgin martyr saints in all of Christian history. Lucia means light, so all sorts of associations have been made with her on that theme through the centuries. Woodeene Koenig-Bricker has an interesting idea: she says that St. Lucy "...could be the patron of Vitamin See...Vitamin See is the ability to view things, not just with our earthly eyes, but with heavenly insight. Vitamin See is the capability of looking beyond the mundane and ordinary to see the divine light infusing all of us every day." How great is that idea for the season of Advent?!

I was thinking about this today when one of our OJN Associates shared some quotations from the desert Fathers on the theme of light and fire:

"The Lord will come to shed His light on your
understanding, to purify your emotions, to guide
your actions. You will feel in yourself forces
which until now were unknown to you. This light
will come: not apparent to the sight and senses,
but arriving invisibly and spiritually—yet none
the less effectively. The symptom of its advent
is the engendering at this point of a constant
burning of the heart: as the mind stands in the
heart, this ceaseless burning infuses it with the
remembrance of God, you acquire the power to dwell
inwardly, and consequently all your inner
potentialities are realized."
(Theophan the Recluse, "Ceaseless burning within,
and the Lord's advent in the heart",
The Art of Prayer

"The love which comes from the Holy Spirit so
inflames the soul that all its parts cleave
ineffably and with utter simplicity to the delight
of its love and longing for the divine. The
intellect then becomes pregnant through the
energy of the Holy Spirti and overflows with
a spring of love and joy."
(Diodochos of Photike, "On Spiritual Knowledge",
The Philokalia, vol. 1)

"For just as coal engenders a flame, or a flame
lights a candle, so will God, who from our baptism
dwells in our heart, kindle our mind to
contemplation when He finds it free from the winds
of evil and protected by the guarding of the
(Hesychios the Priest, "On Watchfulness and Holiness",
The Philokalia, vol. 1)

One of the associations with St. Lucy is that she is patroness of those with eye trouble and blindness. Fr. John Julian, OJN notes that "...in late medieval art, she is frequently portrayed holding her eyes on a dish, and was invoked... Probably this was a cultic transfer from a pagan goddess...Lucina...who was typically shown holding a tray on which were two tiny cakes which looked rather like eyes..." Lauren Gaudin, on emerils.com, describes an "eye pie" associated with St. Lucy .

"This is a St. Lucy’s “eye pie.” St. Lucy is the patron Saint of eye ailments and blindness and even though her Feast Day is December 13, the pies appear on St. Joseph’s altars...[March 19] because she is a Sicilian Saint. The ancestors of Sicilian immigrants who settled in New Orleans in the 1800’s are vibrant and St. Joseph’s Day is a big deal, celebrated with meatless dishes and many symbolic cookies, cakes and breads. The St. Lucy’s Eye Pie is fig-filled, and, if made traditionally, has a chick pea flour crust. People with eye ailments are said to abstain from wheat as homage to St. Lucy."

Particularly at this time of year, you and I can easily let ourselves be swept up in the decorating and preparations and general distraction characteristic of the pre-Christmas season in our society. Advent hopefully anchors us so that we keep our eyes daily on the Holy One who has come, is coming and will come again.

Perhaps that's why a good dose of "Vitamin See" -- or a slice of St. Lucy's "eye pie" -- might be in order!

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