St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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Symbolism in the Church #38

s1290029.jpgThe next round window is an image of a mother pelican feeding the baby pelicans. This image actually pre-dates Christianity. Legend has it that when there was a great famine, the mother pecked a wound on herself so that she could feed her babies. Thus, she risked her own life for that of her children. It is an image of a mother’s love, but a mother’s love comes from the God, who made all mothers. Jesus came and risked His life to save us. This risk is not in word only. Jesus joyfully was willing to do what He could to save us from peril, even if that meant He would die. Continue reading

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Symbolism in the Church #34

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. Continue reading

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Symbolism in the Church #33

The next symbol is the skull. It reminds us of death. It is interesting to see that during Halloween, nobody is bothered by the idea of spooky things such as death, yet when we see something in church or are reminded of it elsewhere, we may get uncomfortable. Death is a reality. We all die. I do not know anybody who is 110 years old. I do not know anybody who is 105 years old. If someone came to you and said they were 200 years old, you might think something was wrong. Continue reading

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Symbolism in the Church #32

The round windows up high in the sanctuary are from left to right: a Chalice and the cross, a skull, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a scale in the center, a harp, a dove with the olive branch and an ominous eye.   Continue reading

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Symbolism in the Church #31

All around the church are the sunlit stained glass windows, gracefully reaching for the sky. High up on the stained glass windows are round images. There are twenty-one of them, with various images, adorning the walls and the pews they shine on.
The round windows symbolize the infinite God. God is the only being that was neither created, nor can be destroyed. He is the being that gave existence to all other things that have existence. He is also the being that sustains everything in existence. He provides us with continued existence until our very physical ends. He gives us food to eat, water to drink, and all the things we need throughout our life. He gives us every breath we take and the ability for our hearts to beat. For us as humans, He is the one who can ensure our continued existence after our physical death in this world. God has no end. He has the ability to not only sustain us in this life, but to sustain us for the rest of time and beyond. He is the one who has the last say on where we will be in our eternity. Continue reading

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Symbolism in the Church #25

On the high altar we have throughout the year the statues of the angels on one knee on each side of the tabernacle. From time to time we will put out angel stands for plants, candles, or other things to set on. These statues should remind us of God’s army, ready to help us. But this army is different than any human army. I do not think we really appreciate the graces we get from these heavenly creatures. I was recently telling some people about the history of these creatures of God. Many people came to me afterwards to tell me they never heard about that. So here is the long story short. Continue reading