« Prayer in a Time of Heresy | Main | The Tempest of Persecution and Controversy »

June 22, 2006


The stained glass in our Sacred Heart adoration chapel features several figures, including St Margaret Mary Alacocque, the young lady who's fertile imagination Jesus used to melt hardened hearts (the Jansenists were very cool to using human senses to come closer to God), see:

Our Pastor wrote recently for our diocesan newspaper on the installation of our chapel window, but since the new web site doesn't link to it anymore, here's the Google cache in it's entirety (I think you will appreciate the wisdom within):

"This past November our parish was blessed to begin its worship in a new church. If you have never been at a Mass of Dedication, it is the liturgy of the Church at its most beautiful. Theologians speak of a "Catholic imagination," that is, an imagination rich in symbolism, one that grasps through lowly human images the very presence of God. Never is this earth-toned imagination seen so clearly as in the ceremonies of Dedication.

"In holy oil being rubbed deep into a new altar, in an incensed smoke made visible by the sun's rays flashing through a symphony of colored glass, in the anointing of walls now candled with a holy fire, and in the singing, yes, most especially the full-throated singing that gathered the hearts of a large assembly into one holy people - in all of this, the gifts of a Church touched by the Lord Jesus, the Word-of-God-made-flesh are laid bare.

"It was only a few days before the completion of the church that a simple insight came to me. It was nighttime. The church was lit from within. From my rectory office I noticed that our stained-glass artist was completing the transition of our Sacred Heart window from the old church to the new.

"But wait! There was something wrong. I was looking at the window from outside the church, and the image of the Sacred Heart was coming through perfectly to me. Something seemed amiss. The image was supposed to be for the inside of the church. Was the artist aware? I had to tell him. I ran inside the church. "Mark, Mark, do you realize that the pieces are in backwards? The Heart of Christ is shining outside the church." For a few minutes Mark Beard became nervous. He followed me to my rectory office window to see what on earth I was saying.

"Then, suddenly, he broke into a smile. He chided me warmly, "Father, what did you expect to see, the back of Jesus' head!" In an instant I caught it. We both broke into a laugh. Of course, stained glass is stained glass. The image comes through from whichever side the light shines.

"Over these days I have reflected on that night. I have drawn from it a simple truth. While we all know very well that God's light can shine from outside the church, and while we within the Church are often well admonished never to be righteous, never to forget that God's rays of goodness can be found in surprising places, still, another truth, -- perhaps even more elemental -- has struck me. It is this: In a day when the Church lives amid a horrible scandal, in a day when some could be tempted to be embarrassed at their affiliation to any inner structure of the Church, yes, even to the "institutional Church," it is good to recognize that God's light does still shine from the inside of Church structure.

"We can take so much for granted, take for granted, that is, the little graces and large graces that stem from the Church, the deep and solid ethical visions, the wellsprings of large charities and simple kindnesses, and yes, even the very desire to be just and peaceful - we can take for granted how much these foundational graces flow from inside the very bowels of the Church. So, in all the legitimate hurt of this time of scandal, in the frustration, in the darkness, I found this one night a symbol of grace: That the light from within the church still very much reveals the Heart of Christ shining on us all.
"Reflection on a Stained Glass Window"
Msgr. Francis X Meehan
Catholic Standard and Times Column
December, 2005

The comments to this entry are closed.


Comments & Permissions

  • Welcome! I appreciate comments. I may delete any that I think are offensive or rude. Everything I write, and photos I take are in the public domain and do not require permission to use. Anything quoted from others (usually in blue), and photos credited to others, may require their permission for use.
Blog powered by Typepad