On the far sides of the reredos of the high altar there are certain, what I will call, cut-outs of the wood. These “cut-outs” leave shadows on the wall behind the high altar. These shadows leave an image of three candles on the wall that increase in height as they go in. These are symbolic of the procession of the saints ascending into heaven as they sing their praises to God. They are going up to their heavenly place that has been prepared for them. They are entering the heavenly kingdom. These candles that are depicted on the wall have, above each one, something similar to sparkles. It is as if they are the halos of each person that gets such a high privilege of being with the company of the Holy.
It seems strange that all this is symbolized in a shadow in the wall behind the high altar. Why is that and what is the point? The wood of the high altar and reredos is what we see at church, but how hard it is to remind ourselves of the reality of what is not seen. WE look at the wood and the gold paint with the hints of other colors in the same way we look at the world. We see the world and know we have to pay our bills, go to work, take care of the little ones, go to games and recitals, eat, drink, sleep, take a shower and go shopping. We go about our busy lives and we forget there is a whole other reality that we do not see. As we go through the day and carry out our daily duty of life, our angels are there to help and guide us. God is ever looking upon us with great love and always desiring to share that love with us. We do not see it directly, but only through various shadows hidden behind what is in front of us. Do we see the deeper reality hidden in our lives? Do we see the hidden reality behind our little ones, our work, eating, drinking, shopping or any other daily tasks? Do we understand the deeper things that are going on in the Mass? The angels sing and our dear loved ones who have passed are there, present to Our Lord in the Eucharist.
For centuries – no, for millennia – the church has offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for those who have passed before us. The Mass is Jesus Christ made physically present to us. In particularly, the Eucharist is Jesus at the moment of Crucifixion. Jesus said while He hung on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). This makes for a great opportunity for us to have Mass said for those who have died and for funerals with the body; not cremated. When the Mass is said for those who have died, it is Jesus that is present and who asks for mercy. There He is, physically present, asking His Father to have mercy on the one whose intention the Mass is for. The Mass and the Eucharist is the most powerful prayer known to humanity. We pray that all our loved ones can have this prayer offered for them. We hope that they may be one of the saints in the procession singing His praises!