Lux Sancta!

Lux Sancta!

Lux Sancta!  (Sanctified Light)

Abrahamic religious worship for at least 10 centuries has used light in worship -- light, which is made holy, sanctified, by illuminating the glass windows of the place of worship.  Through colored, painted, leaded glass, the Divine Will shines its luminescent rays of light into the church, the temple and the mosque.  Lux, primal light in the Latin Vulgate Bible,is the first word made manifest by the Divine. “Let there be Lux (Light).”  And there was.  All other things proceed from LuxLux illuminates us and purifies us for worship. Yet, the rays of Lux remain hidden until they shine onto something or through something, in Latin the light we see is lumen, the original light we cannot see is Lux.  A beam of light in the vacuum of space is altogether invisible. So, we see no light until it illuminates something material.  The rays that shine through the material rose window in a cathedral are meant to illuminate both the glass above and the mosaic floor beneath the worshipers feet and lift them up, anagogically, through the material of the window, even beyond the visible colors of the shapes and icons in the colored glass, up as far as each is able, to the primal apophatic unknowable Divinity itself.  Stained glass is anagogical by design. It is uplifting.  Every ecclesiastical stained glass window always takes us beyond itself.  It makes the invisible visible.  The holy stained glass window allows us to see Divine rays shining through leaded glass like angels, messengers of light calling worshippers to God.  Crepuscular light beams, those rays of light we sometimes see shining through clouds, are also called Jacob’s ladder, upon which he saw angels ascending and descending from heaven.  That is the function of every stained glass window in every holy sanctuary.

A thousand years ago, through dark doors we entered the holy place of Hashem:  the church, the temple, the mosque, the cathedral, and the Divine rays of Lux burst into visible illumination enlightening and purifying the worshipers by illuminating them and the holy objects within. Lux through illuminated stained glass turns darkness to light sanctified for us and sanctifies us as well.  The Divine Light of the One is made visible to us through the stained glass windows of masters:  That is Lux Sancta!  Holy light.  Lumen made sacramental, Lux sanctified preparing us for prayer in the holy house of the Divine One.

In the Cathedral, holy glass illuminated, was how the angels descended and ascended to speak the words of the divine to the worshipers.  The rays of angels became sacramental elements of worship.  Divine Will speaks in light beyond light, Lux beyond lumen,  geometry beyond matter, and beyond form, beyond the categories of Aristotle and the ideas of Plato.  But for us to see the Light of God, it must be made accessible to us in lumen, matter and form.  The Light of Hashem, the One, shines in through material lancets, roses, jewels and roundels, and His ever worshipping angels dance, now visible on the vaults and the rafters illuminated; Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Archangels, Powers, Dominions shine down from the illuminated trusses and spandrels holding up the great ceilings above the naves of Abraham’s children, more numerous than the stars. In those Medieval cathedrals, temples, churches and mosques we prayed up to God in beams of sanctified light.

In the development and use of stained glass more than a millennium ago, was also the melding of the NeoPlatonic, Jewish, Muslim and Christian thoughts on emanationism that led to the birth of the science of light.  Stained Glass was the material expression of the metaphysics of light that eventually became the physics of bosons, photons and the very quantum stuff of electromagnetic fields.  Photons --particles without mass-- still hold everything together. How many photons can dance on the head of a pin?  Why the number of angels of course.

Pseudo-Dionysius (Dionysius the Areopagite) circa 400-500 AD: Syria, Christian Neoplatonist, Church Patriarch

“Inspired by the Father, each procession of the Light spreads itself generously toward us, and, in its power to unify, it stirs us by lifting us up anagogically.  It returns us… back to the Father who gathers us in.  We must lift up... the eyes of our minds to that outpouring of Light which is so primal...and which comes from  that source of divinity, I mean the Father.  This is the Light, which by way of iconic symbols, makes known to us the most blessed hierarchies among the angels.  But we need to rise from this outpouring of illumination so as to come to the simple ray of Light itself.  ...this divine ray can enlighten us only by being upliftingly concealed in a variety of sacred veils which the Providence of the Father adapts to our nature as human beings.”   The Celestial Hierarchy [Of Angels] 120b-121C

Ibn Gabirol (Avicebron)1021-1058 AD:  Andalusia, Moorish Spain, Jewish Hylomorphic Neoplatonist 

“ Since the word, by whose gaze,  form was implanted, is light, that is, an intelligible luminescence rather than a sensible one, any form imparted by [Divine Will] is also luminescent.   Moreover, since it is the nature of light to disclose, penetrate and reveal the form of anything previously hidden, form likewise, when combined with matter, becomes visible after having been unhidden...” The Font of Life V, 30 

Abbot Suger 1081-1151 AD: Saint-Denis, France, Catholic Bishop

“The dull mind rises to truth through that which is material. And, in seeing this light is resurrected from its former submersion.”

“-the loveliness of the many-colored gems has called me away from external cares, and worthy meditation has induced me to reflect, transferring that which is material to that which is immaterial… and that by the grace of God can be transported from this inferior to that higher world in an anagogical manner… “ p 65 On the Abbey of St. Denis

Abbot Robert Grosseteste  1168-1253 AD: Lincoln, England, Catholic Bishop

“THE first corporeal form, which some call “corporeity” [the essence of all material things] is in my opinion light [lux]. For light of its very nature diffuses itself in every direction in such a way that a point of light will produce instantaneously a sphere of light of any size whatsoever, unless some opaque object stands in the way.  But a form that is in itself simple and without dimension could not introduce dimension in every direction into matter.  Corporeity [the essence of all material things] therefore, is either light itself or the agent which performs the aforementioned operation and introduces dimensions into matter in virtue of its participation in light, and acts through the power of this same light.  Therefore light is not a form subsequent to corporeity [essence of all material things], but it is “corporeity” itself.  [Lux is the essence of all material reality. We are all born of light.]”  On Light or the Beginning of Forms

Dean Gilbert Lewis 1875-1946  AD: Berkeley, USA, Physical Chemist, coined “Photon

“It would seem inappropriate to speak of one of these hypothetical entities [Einstein and Planck postulate] as a particle of light, a corpuscle of light, a light quantum, or light quant, if we are to assume that it spends only a minute fraction of its existence as a carrier of radiant energy, while the rest of the time it remains as an important structural element within the atom... I therefore take the liberty of proposing for this hypothetical new atom, which is not light but plays an essential part in every process of radiation, the name photon.”  The Conservation of Photons, Nature 118, 874 (1926)