St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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Symbolism in the Church #11

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The third façade in the rotunda in the high altar is for Easter and Christmas season, as well as for Pentecost and Palm Sunday. The red makes it obvious for Palm Sunday and Pentecost. Granted, there is a dove above the Holy Family in the image for ordinary time, but that image is more to remind us that in the ordinary day of family life, the Holy Spirit is always there as our helper and guide, and that we are always to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. That is something different than Pentecost.
In this façade is an interesting combination of images that pulls everything together when we celebrate at these times. In the dome part is a cross above each panel. The red reminds us of the reason why the cross has power; it is Jesus’ blood that was spilt on the cross. Palm Sunday is the day that lead Jesus directly to the cross. The jealousy of the Jewish leaders of the time sealed His fate as the people hailed Him as Messiah and King. The reaction would be swift and strong.

The tri-foil in red around the crosses in the dome area is also reminiscent of a bird’s beak and wings, in an abstract way. It should remind us of the Holy Spirit descending upon His church. The Holy Spirit comes upon the Church for each person as is according to God’s plan for them and their role in the Church (1 Cor 12). The apostles are to lead the Church in teaching and sanctifying through the sacraments. They receive the Holy Spirit in that role that they have been called. God did not choose the qualified, He qualified the called. He gave them what was needed when the time came, and the Church grew quickly. The people also used their talents and treasure to help the Church grow. God gave them the courage and faith to do so, and He also blessed them for receiving that gift of faith. Many were even willing to die for Jesus. There was no fear when the time came. The Holy Spirit was with them when they needed Him, and when they were open to His most precious gift. You are part of that same Church. What is God calling you to?
The white background of the three panels definitely speaks of the Christmas and Easter season with all the gold. In each of the panels also comes up vines of grapes and wheat. This is right above the Tabernacle where the hosts reside. This tells us that the Eucharist is living and brings life. Out of the Tabernacle comes the food that nourishes us – that daily bread. The grape vines and wheat so intertwined, they seem to be one as the body and blood of Christ is one. It makes us whole. They sprout up and reach to the heavens. We hope that they can carry us there. It is almost as if this vine is a ladder to heaven. The food of angels feeds us on our journey, our pilgrimage to the place Jesus has prepared for us (Jn 14:1-3). It is a pilgrimage that speaks of the Easter proclamation that He is truly risen, and we are now allowed to follow.
This is no Jack in the Beanstalk where we find terrifying characters to find ourselves running away in terror. No, this is where we are found to be welcomed home by all our loved ones. There is no fighting there, arguing or any kind of evil done. Everybody truly loves each other from the heart there, and wants to see the good done for every one of us here below. It is a place of peace. It is the kind of peace we find in the Christmas season when we put ourselves in the presence of the child Jesus. It is the kind of peace we can get when we adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It has a powerful (like Easter) yet gentle (like Christmas) presence that allows us to confide in Jesus and find rest for our souls.

Author: stjosephstmary

We are two Catholic Churches close to downtown Freeport, IL. Our communities are over 150 years old and have been dedicated to our lord Jesus Christ since our inception. We believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was concieved by the Holy Spirit, born of ythe Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

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