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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Learning from Stained Glass Windows

I really love my co-workers.  They are very tolerant of me.  After lunch, they gave me a chance to briefly visit the Corpus Christi Cathedral where I spent some time in prayer.

Corpus Christi Cathedral stands as one of the most beautiful churches in South Texas.   I enjoy visiting it whenever I am in that "sparkling city by the sea."  What drew me this time around were the stained glass windows.   I am reminded of what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy where he notes that:

"The windows of the Gothic cathedrals keep out the garishness of the light outside, while concentrating that light and using it so that the whole history of God in relation to man, from creation to the Second Coming, shines through. The walls of the church, in interplay with the sun, become an image in their own right, the iconostasis of the West, lending the place a sense of the sacred that can touch the hearts even of agnostics."
Okay, so the Corpus Christi Cathedral is not Gothic in structure; however, the same principle holds true.  All throughout the Cathedral, these sacred images told a story, our story.  There were depictions of the sacrifice of Abraham and the bread and wine offered by the priest Melchisedek.  The sacraments were also in full display.  What drew me was the image of what I believe to be a transitional deacon being ordained to the priesthood kneeling before his bishop.  Of all of the images, this one struck me the most.  The South Texas sun pierced through the image, giving it special vibrance.  The brightness made it difficult to capture on film.  Corpus Christi is Latin for the Body of Christ.   A priest is first and foremost charged with offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the faithful.  His hands are annointed for this terribly awesome act.  He is given the chalice, paten, stole and chasuble, sacred implements that are proper to his vocation. 

As I was contemplating this image, I thought of a couple of priest friends of mine, men ordained about seven years apart. One was ordained in that very Cathedral while the other was ordained at his order's Mother Church in New York.  While they both have somewhat divergent theologies and philosophies, they share the bond of the priesthood.  They bear the yoke of Christ and are called to offer themselves, in union with the Crucified Lord, as a daily oblation.

I went to pray for both of them in front of the Blessed Sacrament chapel and I asked Christ, the High Priest, to bless them, console them and keep them close to him.

You never know what you will learn or ponder the next time you look upon a stained glass window.  It might just be an enlightening experience.

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