The light of faith

Read a reflection from Melbourne Campus Chaplain Father Michael Buck on the significance of faith and ACU Faith Week.

One of my favourite things about Easter happens at church in the Easter Vigil ceremony. The service begins outside in the dark with everyone gathered around an open fire. A single candle is lit from the fire which everyone follows into the pitch-black church. Everyone then takes a candle as they proceed into the church and the flame from the main candle spreads gradually throughout the congregation.

The symbolic meaning for Christians celebrating Easter is that Christ is the 'Light of the World' and He shares his light with all of us. On the one hand, the light of Christ is a guide which shows us how to live well, and on the other, the light dispelling darkness is an image of life triumphing over death. For Christians, Easter isn’t just about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, but also His promise to share His new life with all of us. 

The play of light and dark in that traditional Christian commemoration of Easter has stayed with me as we move into Faith Week at ACU.

Soon after Pope Francis was elected as the Pope in 2013, he wrote a letter to the people of the Church ‘on Faith’ and called it, ‘The Light of Faith’. The biggest take out from that letter for me was that faith is a light and not a darkness in our lives. Pope Francis reflected that many people think of faith in the context of lack of knowledge, uncertainty and doubt, with faith basically regarded as the last option you’re left with when you can’t do any better - but this is fundamentally a darkness: “I don’t or can’t know, so all I can do is believe".

The Pope said that this modern way of thinking about faith is the opposite of the Christian tradition, which sees faith fundamentally as a light. Faith enables us to see more of reality and understand more deeply certain truths about ourselves, the world around us, and the Creator. Faith leads to a more expansive vision and fuller exploration of truth, rather than narrowing our vision or closing our minds. 

At ACU, members of our community from many different faith traditions embrace their beliefs and heritage being free to respectfully share this with others. We’re blessed to be in an environment where faith is celebrated as a light in our lives, both for individuals or communities, and freedom of conscience is respected.

The religious diversity amongst our community helps us to know ourselves and each other better, and opens up conversations and friendship. On our Melbourne Campus a few days before Christians celebrated Easter, the campus was filled with colour as our Hindu students and colleagues also celebrated Holi, and this week our Muslim community will celebrate the end of the Ramadan month during Eid.

As the various events on our campuses during this ACU Faith Week invite us to discover more about the faith lives of our communities, let’s get curious and challenge ourselves to hear some different perspectives.

Perhaps we can all finish the week a little bit more enlightened. 

- Fr Michael Buck


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