[Elizabeth Wang here summarizes her spiritual journey and explains how the work of Radiant Light began. The text that follows forms Chapter 1 of the pamphlet "Speak about Hope", pages 5-10. This pamphlet is based on a talk given at the first Radiant Light Conference in Harpenden on 21 August 1999. This talk is part of the first RADIANT LIGHT CONFERENCE VIDEO]
First, a little bit of my journey. The story which I've been sharing for almost ten years, through books, pictures and conversations, is one that Christ has asked me to share; and it began in childhood, when my mother took me for Baptism. I received that wonderful sacrament by which our sins are forgiven and the life of grace is restored to us - Divine Life is given - and I had the good example of two parents, who weren't Catholic but who were thoroughly good-hearted Christians.
From them, I learned a great deal about the Catholic Faith, as a child. There was much that I didn't understand, but I recognised that the God - the Holy Trinity - Whose wonderful work I admired in nature was the God Whom we worshipped with reverence in church, and tried to serve in everyday life principally by keeping His Commandments. This meant not only by trying to avoid everything immoral or selfish but also by trying to love God and to show compassionate love to our neighbour.
I'm afraid I have to 'leapfrog' over many more of the good things I learned in childhood, in order to speak about something which saddened and puzzled me when I started asking questions. When I was young, I was told that Christ had indeed founded one Church; and I was told that the One, Holy Catholic Church which we mentioned each week in the Creed had once been united but that it had broken into pieces hundreds of years ago; and hence we now had no leadership, no authority to define doctrine, and no firm teaching about modern moral problems. I was told that on everything that puzzled me I should make up my own mind. I was confused, however, by the peculiar idea that Christ had once issued sure guidance to His disciples, but that in modern times He had left His disciples to flounder. At the same time, I was a bit sad and rebellious; and that's why I gave up church-going for a while, and, except for crises, gave up prayer.
I can only thank God with all my heart that when I was a young adult my faith in God was renewed; and when I'd begun again to pray regularly, in private, as well as in church each weekend, something wonderful happened. I don't mean wonderful experiences in prayer. I mean that I was astonished to find that I could see and understand more clearly. I could think more clearly about things to do with faith and the spiritual life. I could even do things I hadn't been capable of doing earlier. I began to read widely, and to ask questions of all sorts of people. These determined explorations led me straight to the Catholic Church; and there, all my questions were answered in a way that made complete sense.
I'd found the sole Church which had been founded by Christ: the Church which is One, Holy and Apostolic still. It is one in doctrine and in worship. It's head, Jesus Christ, has arranged for it to be "governed by the successor of St Peter and by the bishops in communion with him"; and the Catholic Church gives us sure teaching about right and wrong, and gives us "the fullness of the means of salvation", as well as all sorts of other wonderful gifts. Through the Church Christ can give us all the "blessings of the New Covenant" in the "one Body of Christ" on Earth (C.C.C.:816).
So of course, I eventually asked to be received, even though, in the nineteen-sixties, this was seen as neither a wise nor fashionable thing to do.
I can't describe how fulfilling I found it: to be able to receive the sacraments, and to discover the plain truth about what was right and wrong. But as most converts know, it wasn't easy to become a Catholic. There was the need to cope gracefully with different reactions from friends and family: with puzzled questions from puzzled bystanders; and yet it's not the difficult things I want to bring to the fore, today.
What I want to speak about is the wonderful gift of God which was given to me when I'd turned to God in prayer, day after day for many dark years, persevering in the Catholic Faith amidst my faults and failings, and persevering in prayer.
By the time I'd been a Catholic for about fifteen years I'd finally surrendered my life to God: and I mean surrendered in the sense of no longer fighting Him all the time - preferring to do my will rather than His - but rather, having given Him permission to do whatever He wanted with my life. I had finally put all my trust in His goodness and wisdom, although I didn't feel very fervent. I mean that, by His grace, I just got on with praying every day, and just got on with everyday duties at home; but I found that God gave me a wonderful gift which was wholly unexpected; and it was given to me in prayer.
My routine was well-established. It was the sort of routine which is sometimes despised today; but I said my prayers every morning and night, and went to Mass once a week - all that I could manage at that time, because of my duties. I said the Rosary occasionally, prayed the Jesus Prayer day after day, and sometimes prayed the Stations of the Cross. Like a lot of people, I sometimes prayed two or three of the hours from the Office book, when I had time; and I made secret little acts of penance, as I discovered, year by year, how weak I am, and how much I needed God, and God's help.
I was content to pray in this way. It seemed as though I was expressing my true thoughts to God, and was paying Him very simple worship. I had no yearnings for special experiences, and was content to pray in what seemed like a state of perpetual spiritual darkness.
I was enormously grateful, at last, for the simple things in life: simple duties to fulfil, simple joys to share with friends and family, and simple prayers to pray, daily. I was grateful to be able to have my sins forgiven in Confession - and to be able to go regularly to Holy Communion. So I was astonished when I found, in the nineteen-eighties, in the midst of this dark, plodding, persevering prayer, that I was being taught by Christ. I found that every few weeks, and later on, every few days, or even every day, I was being taught by Him: usually during the summit of the Mass, as our priest held up before us the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ - but at other times as well.
Every 'teaching' in prayer was given to me, wholly unexpectedly, as a swift, silent, and wordless piercing-of-the-soul with knowledge - or wisdom. Something momentous was implanted by God in my soul: nothing new; but something already known in outline about the Holy Trinity, or about Glory, or grace, or souls, or prayer - or Our Lady, or the Incarnation - was suddenly made vividly plain, in a way I didn't understand; and that 'implanting of truth' was ended before I'd realised it had begun. I didn't know what was happening; and I used to walk home from church amazed at all that I'd learned in a split second: more than I could have learned by reading for years and years. And of course, this was so disturbing that I tried to ignore all of these teachings for several years.
I told no-one about the 'teachings'. Nor did I tell anyone, later on, when Christ began to speak to me occasionally in prayer, usually in Holy Communion, and even to give me images which illustrated some of His parables and explanations about prayer, and about the Mass, and about the soul, and about how we can please Him.
All the good books I'd read over the years had suggested that we ought to be reluctant to accept strange experiences in prayer, and that it's goodwill and love that count in God's sight. We're not supposed to rush about hoping for visions or for extraordinary spiritual lives; and St. Paul even warns us that we can be deceived by Satan, who "GOES DISGUISED AS AN ANGEL OF LIGHT" (2 Co 11:14). But when a few years had gone by, it seemed wrong to ignore God's gifts, if He was still choosing to bestow them despite my reluctance to have them. As some of you know, from what you've read, I decided to make notes in a little book; and then I did two more things. First, I thanked God for His gift; and then I made an appointment with my parish priest, to ask the advice of an expert.
My parish priest then, in 1990, was a wonderful man called Canon Maurice O'Leary - who died two or three years ago. I'll always be glad that he was there, and that he was willing to answer my questions; and I was astonished and relieved when he announced that the teachings in prayer were a gift from God and that it was all right to accept them.
From then on, although I still felt very embarrassed about the whole business, and about having to go to my priest to talk about what was happening, I began to write longer accounts of the teachings, though I had no idea what they were for; and, at the suggestion of my Parish Priest, some of my writings were sent away for appraisal by a theologian. I'm happy to say that that voluntary 'system' of appraisal continues even now; and this is reassuring not just for me but for those who read my work. I'm even happier to say that everything I've written up until this summer has now been given an Imprimatur from Westminster Diocese, which I know will put some people's minds at rest.
Christ kept me in the dark about His plans, until I'd been trained and tested in ways that I can't mention now. But for those first few years He asked me to publish His teachings in several plain volumes, and to circulate other works, and to hand them out, free, to people I encountered in daily life. He didn't want me to sell my work. He explained that there would come a time when it would be more widely known; but for those few years He wanted me to keep on speaking about His teachings person to person: just to one person at a time. And that's what I did for a long time - until the founding of RADIANT LIGHT (see Heb 1:3-4): which is the non-profit-making company which now looks after and distributes my books. So that's the origin of the whole Work.
It's been a very strange path for me, although it's been thrilling to meet some of you who have been involved in the work, from a distance, almost from the beginning; and Christ has explained that His whole loving purpose is to encourage people in their faith, using my life and work. So this is simply my job; and each of you has your own special work for Him. And if we work and pray in harmony, we'll be able, of course, to build up "HIS BODY, THE CHURCH" (Col 1:24), together with many other people.