Not Lucile Ball, but St Lucy is the one I love. It is her feast day today, and here are some reasons why she’s important:

Firstly, there is the symbolism of her name. “Lucy” comes from the Latin for light–“Lux” or “Lucis”. Lucy is the saint of Light in the season of Advent which is the season of Light. Advent Light in the dark time of the year. With her good works, her purity and her love for the poor, Lucy radiates genuine light of life.

Secondly, Lucy counters Lucifer. Lucifer is the “Light Bearer” an angel of light who has fallen into the dark. Lucifer is the false light of dark paganism while St Lucy reflects the true Light of the World, Christ the Light in a darkened and depraved world. St Paul says the saints shine like stars in the darkened night. Lucifer is called the “Bright Morning Star” but that light has become a shadow while the bright lights of the saints shine pure.

Thirdly, in a paradoxical twist, Lucy the saint of light also lost her sight. She is the patron saint of the blind because her own eyes were cruelly plucked out. So the saint of light was plunged into the darkness without sight. So she reminds us that to walk in the path of light we must often go through the dark night of the soul. It is in the darkness that the light shines most brightly. It is in our blindness that we long to see. St Lucy give us light. St Lucy give us sight!

Fourth, all the virgin martyrs, in their own way, point back to the Virgin of Virgins, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Lucy, the virgin martyr of light reminds us that the Blessed Mother shared in the sorrows of her son who was the Light of the World and that the Blessed Virgin is therefore the true Light-Bearer–not the false Lord of Darkness–the Prince of the Shadows, the serpent whose head is crushed by the Virgin Mary.

Finally, she refused to marry the pagan husband who would be forced on her. There is much here to learn from in a symbolic and significant way: The pagan husband represents not just paganism, but the paganism that is the way of the world–the way of power, pleasure, prestige, and prosperity at any cost. Her proposed husband was a wealthy pagan, and she could have had a comfortable life and perhaps even been allowed to practice her Christianity in secret on the side.

This is exactly the temptation most American Catholics face: the temptation to marry the ways of the world–to make our real commitment to wealth, comfort, security and pleasure. Then we plan to practice our religion secretly on the side. The temptation is to take the easy way out, not to make a fuss, not to stand up and be a martyrs, but to go with the flow and fit in. The temptation is to submit to pressure and to marry the ways of the world, to wed ourselves to the values of the society around us–to sell out.

This is why I love Lucy–because she did not compromise. Finally, as I love St Therese, I love Lucy because she was a little girl. It was not the great soldier, the great he-man, the great warrior who stood up bravely for Christ….it was a little girl, and this reminds us that unless you become like one of these little ones you cannot see the kingdom of heaven.