The Symbolism in St Joseph Church #4

God sheds his grace upon us in many colors, symbolized in the colors we see when the sun shines through the windows. Real stained glass is getting more and more rare. Real stained glass is actually what it says it is, glass that is stained, or has the color in the glass. The more modern “stained glass” may have a backdrop color in the glass, but then they spray paint on top of it to give it its shading effect. This allows for more detail in making images in a time where the true art of making the windows is almost all lost. Look closely at the stained glass in any old church. It is nearly impossible to have the same glass replaced.
In the old days the glass was stained by hand, making it very difficult to match. Even the same piece of glass may have different parts of it with different intensities of that color. Stained glass can vary in thickness, giving it a different look as well. Consistency was very hard to keep in stained glass. When we look at this stained glass, we see the uniformity and consistency of all the glass. In fact, we can see it in the very building.

Before I went into the seminary, I used to love going for walks in the state parks. I would wonder at God’s creation and marvel at the consistency and beauty of how God made things. Yet, I heard that every blade of grass is different, that uniformity and diversity can coexist in such beauty as God’s creation. I find the same to be true here in this church. This community may have German roots, but any Catholic feels the welcome of the same Mass that is celebrated throughout the world. The Catholic Church is worldwide and in nearly every culture. Yet the same truths of the faith have been guiding us all. It leads us by the light of faith in truth.
If you look at the rounded wall behind the altar, you will notice that it is really not round. It has seven short walls at an angle from each other to look like it is rounded. These short walls are symbolic of the seven days of creation. It is God’s creation that He gave us to use for our benefit. He gave us food to eat and each other for company and companionship. We also have to do our part with creation and do His holy will. It is the “fruit of the earth and work of human hands.” Humanity builds these walls with what God gives us. Then as we look up, we see the seven windows in each of the seven walls. These seven windows are the seven sacraments (Baptism, Confession, Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick). From the helm of the barc comes the light of Jesus in the sacraments.
Without the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of His cross, none of these sacraments would ever happen. That is why these windows are above the sacrifice of Jesus on the altar. They shed light on the sacrifice of that altar and therefore on the suffering we endure as we follow our God and King. The sacraments bring purpose and focus for what we would otherwise think useless and voided. Our suffering in this world can bring significant meaning and grace to souls in need. This purpose can bring a deeper wisdom and helps us to grow ever more in faith that does not rely on mere human reasoning, but on the reasoning of God. “Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you” (Prv 4:6).