Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, July 7

It is Summer, and things around the parish slow down. I wish to take this opportunity to again write about the windows in the church. Having examined all the windows on the sides of the church, I now turn to the window in the Mary Chapel, to the left of the main altar as you face the altar from the pews.

As appropriate for the Mary chapel, the window shows the Holy Spirit (again a white dove) and Mary. On my first viewing I thought the window depicted Mary as a young girl with her mother, St. Anne. This would make it a rather touching scene of family life in the story of Mary, implying that from her youngest years she was always open to God’s grace (the Holy Spirit) and directed to doing God’s will.

However, on further viewing and reflection I have begun to wonder if the rather androgynous child figure is not meant to be Mary but rather Jesus as a young boy, and hence the older woman is the Blessed Virgin Mary, not St. Anne. And so it represents domestic life in the history of Jesus. Either interpretation works for the location in the Mary Chapel, and I leave it to your religious imagination to decide which is the more appropriate.

This window was “Given in loving memory of Gregory George Shia, 1964-1973,” so it was donated in memory of a person who died as a child.

Also visible in the small room off of the Sanctuary between the altar and the sacristy, where there are rows of pews, is a window representing a crown and a red cross. I understand that this room was originally constructed to hold the choir, though that seems strange since we also have a functioning choir loft. If any of you know the original intent of this space, I would like to know. A plaque in this area states, “This Prayer Room is given in Memory of Anthony R Ferris and Carmen Kazen    Ferris by their son, Anthony Curly Ferris.”

If you go into the Sacristy there are two more windows, one showing another depiction of the Holy Spirit as a white dove and the other of a chalice and host. These windows refer to the Kingship and the Priesthood of Christ. Between the windows in the sacristy is a rather unusual Crucifix which depicts Jesus in full priestly vestments as the priest wore them prior to Vatican Council II.  He also wears a crown and hence is depicted on the Cross as on His altar and throne, as Priest and King. His expression is impassive; at best serene.

The small cloth hanging from his left arm is known as a “maniple.” It is not entirely clear what is the origin of the maniple, but according to Wikipedia, “the maniple was likely a piece of linen which clerics used to wipe their faces and hands and has been described by some modern commentators as being akin to a handkerchief.” 

Since this cloth had no real purpose it accumulated a great variety of symbolic meanings. According to St. Alphonsus   Ligori, “It is well known that the maniple was for the purpose of wiping away the tears that flowed from the eyes of the priest; for in former times priests wept continually during the celebration of Mass.”

While the devotion of such priests is truly admirable, I am rather happy myself that the custom of the priest bawling during the celebration of the Mass has fallen into disuse. It seems to take away from the sense of the Eucharist as a celebration. In any case, in 1967 the Vatican’s Sacred          Congregation of Rites discontinued the use of the maniple. I have never worn one. 

God bless!

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