St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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Symbolism in the Church #19

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Two other images we have in the back of the Church are some relief work on orange boards. These came from the old high altar. When they took down the old high altar, these were preserved, but it was decided to have them sand blasted for the antique look. It did more damage than good, but we still have them. We had asked about getting them refurbished by a company in Madison that does this. They said they could not do it because there was too much damage.

There are three of these panels, all from the lower part of the high altar. They were painted in color before. Someday it would be good to put them on better display boards. The images we see here are the wedding of Joseph and Mary and the holy death of Joseph. The third panel, which is not up in the church, is the nativity scene.
The wedding, or betrothal, of Joseph and Mary should remind us of the grace and holiness of the sacrament of Matrimony: Marriage. The priest is there as a witness before God of their promises to each other, and before the entire community. The priest in turn blesses the marriage in the name of God. They are to live in fidelity to God and each other. It is the foundation in which children are brought forth.
In the security of the holy family, Jesus is born to us. The birth of Jesus is depicted with the angels and the star above. Joseph and Mary are on each side, bending their knees in adoration and awe. The holy family is found in such a simple life. No need for the extravagant life. God truly comes to us and walked among us, not as a billionaire. He comes to us in an approachable way. He comes to us as a God of mercy and compassion. He can identify with us so that we can identify with Him. Families can come before this altar and worship Him. The Trinity is a family of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are from a family as God is a family of three persons. Our family is an imitation of the family of God in heaven. That is why this panel was at the center of the altar. Holiness is to be found in marriage and the family. The altar is the place where the marriages are blessed by God. This panel is currently in my living room.
The other panel is the death of Joseph. St. Joseph is the patron saint of many things. He is the patron saint that helps us sell our homes, of fathers, foster fathers, our parish, workers and of happy deaths. What greater death can a person have than have Jesus and Mary at their side. Many people today may be afraid to have Jesus there. Maybe they think He will be there to condemn. Maybe they think Jesus will punish them in some way. But Jesus is there console us at the end of our life, so long as we are not hard of heart. The human part of this image is how good it is when family comes together. There was no bickering with each other. They just loved each other and wanted to be there for each other. Faithfulness to each other was the staple mark of this holy family. No multiple partners, politics, gossip, resentment or self-will. They honored each other and constantly offered each other in self-sacrifice. This offering of self-sacrifice was extended to us as Jesus followed Joseph into death on the cross. The fidelity of Mary stood at that cross that won us His pardon and the invitation into His family in heaven.
Marriage and family: no matter how hard humanity tries, there is no substitute.

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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