Reminders of God's Love and Presence
The twelve stained-glass windows that surround our worship area show images of Mary throughout the centuries. Learning about the stories that the windows depict can help us appreciate Mary's connection to people as the loving Mother of the God's Family, the Church. Mary reminds us that God is always with us.
Many of these windows show apparitions, times when Mary is believed to have appeared to an individual or a group of people. While the Church does not require belief in any apparition or other private revelation, the apparitions in our church windows have been declared "worthy of belief". Devotions related to these apparitions have developed over the years and have affected many lives. In addition, many people at these sites have experienced miracles which have defied explanation.
As you look at these windows, may these reminders of Mary help you to experience a new awareness of God's continual loving presence in your life.
Window 1: Our Lady of Fatima
When the world was suffering the terrors of World War I, Mary appeared six times to three young children in Fatima, Portugal. In these apparitions Mary told the children to pray for world peace and urged the children to tell people to pray the Rosary. Many people gathered to pray at these times. A miraculous sight in which the sun appeared to be dancing occurred on Oct 13, 1917; this amazing sight was seen by thousands of people. Everyone's clothing had been drenched from heavy rain, yet when the sun settled down again, all clothing was found to be dry.
As we view this window let us remember people who live in war torn areas; let us pray for peace in our world.
Window 2: The Family at Nazareth
This window is a reminder that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus shared life together. It is easy to imagine that this family never experienced life's ups and downs; however, this Family was very real. Like all families, this family had household tasks, family responsibilities, community interactions, as well as physical and emotional challenges as part of their life.
As we look at this picture we can remember that God is with us in our daily lives as we face these everyday experiences. We can also use this window as a reminder to pray for families, especially those who are experiencing difficulties.
Window 3: Mary, Patroness of the United States
This window is a vivid reminder that as a nation we need to remember that Mary is with us. Our country's flag and the image of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC are both clear reminders of Mary's importance to our country. In 1792, John Carroll, the bishop of Baltimore and America's first Roman Catholic bishop, consecrated the newly-created United States to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception. In 1847, Pope Pius IX formalized Carroll's acclamation, proclaiming the Immaculate Conception as the "patroness of the United States."
As we look at this window, let us pray for our country that as a nation we may live with awareness that we are all the children of God's family. Let us work to help make that awareness a reality in our country's laws and rules.
Window 4: Our Lady of Guadalupe
Traditional belief holds that on December 9, 1531 Mary appeared to Juan Diego, an indigent Aztec Indian, near Mexico City. Mary's image appeared on his tilma, a very poor quality cactus-cloth worn by poor people of that area. The native people were considered as the lowest in the society and were terribly oppressed by people in power. Mary's appearance to this poor man to bring her message to people in power showed clearly that God does not classify people as society sometimes does.
This window reminds us of our call to respect all people regardless of society's rankings and to work for the dignity of all people. This window also reminds us of Mary's message of love and compassion, and her universal promise of help and protection for all people.
Window 5: Queen of the North American Martyrs
In the 1640's eight French Jesuits came to the New World to bring the message of Jesus to the Native Americans living in the area known as "New France". In the spirit of true missionaries, these men left the comforts, culture and customs of their life and lived in meager shelters amid a new civilization with a very different way of life. Between 1642 and 1649 these eight men, who had all dedicated themselves to Mary as the Mother of Jesus, were killed because of their work as Christian missionaries which was feared and misunderstood by some people.
This window reminds us of our own baptismal call to be missionaries by bringing the love of Jesus to our own world of family, work, school, community by the way that we live.
Window 6: The Annunciation
What an awesome moment we see before us as God's angel messenger asks Mary to be Mother of the Savior God. We may wonder at Mary's astonishment, her possible fear, her sense of unworthiness, or even her doubt as to the reality of this experience. Yet Mary quietly puts her life in God's hands and entrusts herself to God's providence as she says "Yes" to God's request.
As we look at this window we can remember that we too are called to make Jesus present in our world. Let us pray that, like Mary, we too will say "Yes" to God's requests and put aside fear, doubt, or a false sense of unworthiness.
Window 7: The Epiphany
Here we see Mary showing Jesus to Magi, visitors who symbolize the people of the entire world. As these people present their gifts that show their awareness of Jesus as God of all people, Mary holds Jesus towards the visitors. After their long journey of searching, these visitors have found the One they sought. Like these visitors, we too have followed the Star of God's love and have found Jesus. Perhaps, like the Magi, we have traveled in the midst of darkness and difficulty. This window reminds us that like Mary, we too are called to bring Jesus to all people.
As we look at this window, let us pray that the Light of Jesus will touch and guide the lives of all, especially those who are seeking meaning in life. Let us also pray that this Light will help dispel areas of personal, local and global darkness.
Window 8: Mother of Perpetual Help
The ancient Byzantine icon of Mary holding Jesus had a long and colorful history. Like all icons, this image contains many symbols for all who view it. We see that the Child Jesus has run to His Mother, almost losing, in His haste, one of his tiny sandals. He has been frightened by the vision of two angels, shown on both sides of the icon, who are showing Him the instruments of the Passion. Mary holds Jesus in her arms reassuringly, lovingly, while she looks at us. Mary seems to be asking us, "How are you holding Jesus today?" We see too that Jesus' little hands are pressed into Mary's strong, sheltering hands as a reminder to us that here on earth Jesus looked to Mary's hands for protection. This icon is a wonderful reminder that people throughout the ages have expressed their experience of God in many meaningful ways.
As we look at this window, let us remember those who are frightened, especially those who are suffering. Let us also ask Mary's help as we try to protect others or work to change systems that cause pain and suffering.
Window 9: Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
In the 1830's Mary appeared several times to Catherine Laboure, a novice at the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Catherine had grown up working on her family's farm in Burgundy. When Catherine was nine years old, her mother died and Catherine turned to Mary as her new mother. Because Catherine felt that God wanted her to help sick people, Catherine joined the Sisters of Charity so that she could do God's work. When Mary appeared to Catherine, Mary showed Catherine a medal and asked Catherine to tell people about this medal. Many people began wearing this medal as a way of remembering Jesus and Mary. Catherine continued to take care of sick people and to show them God's love and care.
When we look at this window we can pray for people who are sick and lonesome, and we can pray for people who take care of those who are sick and lonesome. We can also pray for children whose mothers have died or who do not take care of them, so that, like Catherine, they will not feel lonely and will find a way to turn to God and to Mary.
Window 10: Our Lady of the Rosary
The Rosary is an especially loved devotional prayer. According to popular tradition, St. Dominic received the Rosary from Our Lady in an apparition in the early 1200's during a difficult time for Christian believers. While research has shown that people prayed a Rosary prior to the days of St. Dominic, possibly as far back as the eighth century, we do know that the Rosary became a well-loved prayer after Dominic's time.
In those earlier days, patterned on the Book of Psalms, the Lord's Prayer was recited 150 times. Those who were devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary replaced the Lord's Prayer with the first part of today's "Hail Mary", reciting 150 Hail Mary's on beads strung on a cord. In the sixteenth century, the second half of the "Hail Mary" was added, and the various mysteries became accepted by all as the proper way of praying this devotion. In 2003 additional mysteries were offered for contemplation.
While the form of praying the Rosary may have changed over the years, this prayer provides a well-loved way for us to meditate upon the lives of Jesus and Mary and to contemplate the ways that our lives intertwine with their experiences.
Window 11: Our Lay of Sorrows, the Pieta
This window shows the beautiful well-known statue known as "The Pieta". How fitting that this window is next to that Station of the Cross in which Mary holds the body of Jesus in her arms. Here we see an expression of profound sorrow and grief. Words fail us as we look at this sadness. As we contemplate this window, let us pray for those who have experienced deep sorrow, especially as a result of violence, fear or hatred.
Let us remember, in a special way, parents whose children have died, that they may find comfort and support in Mary's love.
Window 12: Our Lady of Lourdes
In 1858 Mary appeared 18 times at Lourdes, in the Pyrenees mountains in southern France, to Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen year old peasant girl. A spring of fresh water, which appeared at the site, feeds the baths at the shrine to the present day. Many miraculous healings have been reported after people have bathed in the waters. The fact that there is no spread of infection, even though no sanitary precautions are taken when people with all sorts of diseases take baths there, is a marvel in itself. There is a medical bureau at Lourdes at which any qualified doctor can come to check alleged cures.
As we look at this window, let us pray for those who are sick, in body, mind or spirit. Let us also remember the many people who minister to ill and suffering people.
Sacristy Window: The Crucifixion
In this place where people prepare for celebration of the Eucharist, this striking image of the Crucifixion is a vivid reminder that we experience the life-giving Death and Resurrection of Jesus whenever we come together to celebrate Eucharist. Truly we believe "Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again". The life-giving action of Jesus continues to touch our lives in a special way in our Eucharistic celebration. We, in turn, are called and strengthened to love and serve the Lord and each other as Jesus touches our lives anew.
Children's Chapel: Jesus and the Little Children
What a wonderful way for parents and children to grow in their relationship with Jesus as they notice Jesus' care and attention to the children around him. This window recalls the value that Jesus placed on children, especially in view of the efforts of Jesus' companions to ignore the little children or to send them away because they were not worth the attentions of a great teacher.
This window reminds us of the importance of each child. Let us pray for children that they may come to know Jesus. Let us also pray for parents as they try to guide and direct their children, and for teachers and all people who work with children that they will treat each child with the love that Jesus would show.