St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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Symbolism in the Church #34

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The next window is an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It can easily get confused with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is depicted as wrapped with roses, whereas the Sacred Heart has thorns around it. The Immaculate Heart has a sword that pierces it from the top, whereas the Sacred Heart of Jesus has already been pierced and shows two or three drops of blood coming out of the pierced heart. This Immaculate Heart of Mary has three flowers coming out of the top of the heart whereas the Sacred Heart of Jesus has a cross with the flames coming out of the top. These are three distinctions between these images. There are many of these images in the stained glass. There are even more images of the Sacred Heart.
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is directed to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. It is not to be confused with worship. As Catholics we honor Mary because she is the mother of Jesus. Jesus is our Lord and God. Jesus also gave us to her as her children, and so we must honor her as our spiritual mother as the commandment states: “Honor your father and mother” (Ex 20:12). This is backed up by what Mary herself said under the direction of the Holy Spirit: “From this day all generations shall call me blessed” (Lk 2:48). In this image we see the sword piercing the heart. As Simeon had predicted, Mary’s heart was pierced when Jesus’ heart was pierced (Lk 2; 34 &35). Mary’s heart would contain sorrow, yet she would be blessed. How could she not be blessed with such a Son.

The Sacred Heart has thorns, Mary’s heart has flowers. I like to think Jesus took the thorns from the roses and gave the flowers to Mary. The fruitfulness of Mary is depicted in the flowers coming out of the top of her heart. The flowers resemble the graces of always having an attitude of yes to Jesus. Like Mary, when we say yes to Jesus, graces seem to blossom everywhere. Mary is a model of holiness and inspiration to live a life of grace. Her constant yes to God invited God to come and live in her physical body in the person of Jesus. We hope to have Jesus live in our hearts each and every day. May He always be living in us and may He be a source of grace to those we meet. Mary brought Jesus with her to visit her cousin Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-56) and grace came to those she met. If Jesus lives in our hearts and souls, may Jesus bring grace to those we meet. Jesus made Mary fruitful, may He make us fruitful.
Over the center, above the stained glass of St Joseph, what looks like a scale, after taking a closer look, is actually lilies. This goes well with St Joseph. Joseph is usually depicted with lilies and this is fitting. Lilies are a symbol of purity. St Joseph never had relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus. So Joseph is the model of the virtue of purity for men. It is a sign of strength, integrity and wisdom.
Joseph is a model of wisdom because he preferred the wisdom of God than the desire of the heart. God’s will is always more important than where our passions may take us. Our passions are usually the starting point of our sins. Joseph is a model of integrity because he followed God’s will. God’s will was not just a passing thought that it was a good thing to do. Joseph pursued God’s will in all things. He therefore became a man of integrity. He is a sign of strength against the whims of the passions and forces of evil. He held fast to do what was wise and true. It is a strength that many people overlook and may even deem weakness. It takes courage to live the faith and face the adversaries one encounters for doing what is right.

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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