Church as the Dawn
WHEN scandals put the Church in a bad light, we can be encouraged by the words of St Gregory the Great 540-604: “Because the dawn, or day-spring, changes from darkness into light, it is right to understand by the name ‘dawn’ or ‘day-spring’ the whole Church of the elect.
While it is brought from the night of unbelief to the light of faith, it is opened up to the splendour of heavenly brightness as the dawn bursts into day after the darkness.
The words of the Song of Songs are to the point: ‘Who is she who comes forth as the rising dawn?’ Holy Church, seeking for the rewards of the heavenly life, is called the dawn because it leaves the darkness of sin and shines with the light of holiness.
We have a deeper point to examine, after considering the nature of the dawn. Dawn announces that night has already passed, but it does not display the full brightness of day; while it is dispelling the one it is welcoming the other, and it keeps light and darkness intermingled.
All of us who follow the truth, what are we in this life, if not ‘dawn’ or ‘day-spring’? We do some things which are of the light, but we are still not free from some remains of the darkness. The prophet said to God: ‘No man living is righteous before you’, and another text reads: ‘All of us do wrong in many ways.’
When Paul said: ‘The night is far gone’, he did not add: ‘The day has come’, but, ‘The day is at hand’. He who says, after night has gone, not that the day ‘has arrived’ but that it is ‘at hand’, shows beyond doubt that he is still in the dawn, before the sun and after the darkness.
The Church of the elect will be fully day only when the darkness of sin is no longer blended with it. It will be fully day only when it has been brightened with the perfect warmth of the inward light.
The fact that this dawn is still in course is brought out well by the words, ‘You have sent the dawn to its place.’ What is being sent to its place is certainly being called out of one state into another.
What is the place of the dawn but the perfect brightness of the eternal vision? When it has arrived there it has no longer any of the darkness of the past night. The dawn was intent on reaching its place when David said: ‘My soul thirsts for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God?’
The dawn was hurrying to this place, which it had known, when Paul said that he desired to die and be with Christ, and when he said: ‘For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ “ 29/6/12
From the commentary of St Gregory the Great
on the Book of Job