Candles in the Dark has been in a stack on one of our bookshelves for a while now. Saint Benedict Press sent it to me thinking it would be something of interest to me. They were right, but it wasn’t the right time for me to read it, yet. I’ve considered picking it up a few times, but then ended up choosing other books to read which, as the Holy Spirit would have it, were exactly what I needed at that time.
The other day when I was attending daily Mass at St. Benedict’s a young man in front of me who is a very devout and joyful Catholic was wearing a T-shirt with a quote on it from Fr. Richard Ho Lung and the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP). Yes, God will speak to us however He likes, even through the messages on T-shirts. The quote and priest quoted reminded me of the book once more. Intrigued, I removed Candles in the Dark and dove in.
Is he a male Mother Teresa as some have said? Both of them were called to the religious life and were teaching when they each received what’s been described as “a call within a call” to serve the poorest of the poor, those left literally and figuratively, to die in the streets. They are each devoted to prayer, living among and serving the poor, and using their clout to speak out about the atrocities of our times. But the answer is not really.
I can’t think of a better time for me to be reading a book about a man who has devoted his life to serving the poor. Fr. Richard Ho Lung is nicknamed the “Ghetto” priest for good reason. The slums in Jamaica are where he was born, where he lives now, and that’s where he has been called to serve Christ “in distressing disguise.” Some know him because of his illustrious singing career. Not only has he had a number of hit songs, but he has also written and produced full-length musicals and operas. Others are familiar with him because of his success as a distinguished literature professor, poet, and Jesuit priest.
As has happened a number of times throughout my life, there is someone whose health and well-being I’m very concerned about who is of no relation to me. Wondering and praying about what course of action would be best while reading the story of Fr. Richard Ho Lung’s life and the Missionaries of the Poor reminded me that I should not limit what I am willing to do if God asks me to. I’ve needed this reminder often in life, so this was another way of repeating the lesson. Consulting the proper authorities as well as other concerned parties, I’ve now taken a good first step toward getting help for an unsafe living situation.
One of the things I really appreciated about Candles in the Dark is that Fr. Ho Lung talks about how disgusted and repulsed he was by the condition he would find people living in, but he always knew that he was ministering to Christ in each person he helped. I have definitely experienced and found myself in some situations I’d rather avoid, but when God brings us into them with the intent that we be an agent of change, we eventually get the courage to speak up.
I’m really hoping to find and view one of Fr. Richard Ho Lung’s musicals sometime soon. I admire him greatly as a man who has answered the call to be a man of prayer, hope, and love to the many people God has brought and will continued to bring into his life.
I highly recommend Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Richard Ho Lung and the Missionaries of the Poor by Joseph Pearce. The writing is genuine, fresh, and captures the priest’s personality, faith, and passion for serving the poor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. For more info or to get your own copy of Candles in the Dark, click here.