St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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Symbolism in the Church #41

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One of the last pieces of artwork we will look at is the painting on the wall with Jesus holding bread and a chalice. This painting is on the right side as you are looking at the altar. This picture is in reference to the Eucharist, what we as Catholics know to be the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Himself. The Eucharist is Jesus, so much so, that it is Jesus as if He just walked in the room. Jesus manifests Himself in a similar way as He multiplied the loaves. In fact, it is in the bread that He manifests Himself. He chose to be with us, not just in a spiritual way, which is a comfort in itself. Jesus chose to be with us physically in what appears to be bread and wine. We see in this picture, Jesus is saying to us, “Take this and eat… take and drink”. He is inviting us to participate in such a holy relationship with Him. This is no mere bread; it is the bread of angels.

This image was painted during our last full renovation in 2000 by Raymond Tatar. It is said to be his last painting. The next job he went to, he fell off the scaffold up high in a church and died. A couple repairs had to be done to it since then. Family members come by from time to time to see the picture. It was situated in front of the tabernacle, where Jesus is reserved in the blessed sacrament on the smaller side altar below the painting. The tabernacle is now in the high altar in the center of the church. The high altar came from St Mary’s Church in Dubuque, Iowa. It is German design at about the same time as this church. Most people would never guess that it was installed in 2011.
Most Churches have what they call a cruciform. Some churches it is more obvious than others. For Some churches, even the outside is shaped like a cross. But for many others, you have to go inside to understand the cross shape. When you think of the isle going up the middle, that is the vertical beam of the cross. The horizontal beam is up in the sanctuary that goes from one wall to the other crossing the vertical beam. The altar is where the head of Jesus would be. Jesus is our head and that is where the sacrifice takes place. The steps are where Jesus’ heart is pierced and out flows the water and blood, washing His peoples sins away and strengthening them with His sacred food. The pierced feet is His suffering church, nailed to the cross with their Savior. He suffers with us and we with Him. It truly becomes a wedding banquet. This is the place where we become one flesh with our Lord. I in Him and He in me.
This intimacy with Jesus goes deep into our souls. It makes this place an experience of the holy of holies. It constantly calls us back to Him. It is a place where we experience the love of God. It is a place where friends are found and relationships are built. It is where we were baptized, confirmed, forgiven of our sins, married and received our first communion. It is a place where the divine has touched our hearts so dearly that we wish it could remain forever. After all, why not? “For His love endures forever” (Ps 136).

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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