December 20, 2009

From Visitation to Pentecost Via Baptism

One of my favorite things about the church where I work is the depiction of the mysteries of the rosary in the windows. The Joyful Mysteries begin to the left of the sanctuary and progress to the back of the church. Then, on the other side, the Glorious Mysteries begin and proceed back to the sanctuary, so that the Coronation of Mary ends up opposite the Annunciation. The Sorrowful Mysteries appear as paintings on the ceiling, also proceeding to the sanctuary.

When the light is good, one can use the windows as meditations in praying the rosary in the same manner that one would make the Stations of the Cross.

Before Mass today, as my final preparation to preach on today's Gospel, I spent some time with the window of the Visitation:

Elizabeth's posture proclaims her words from St. Luke: how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Mary reaches out one hand in greeting, while the other is over her heart, where she kept all these things, reflecting on them. Poor Zechariah gestures in his muteness, and St. Joseph hangs back with his green halo. Anybody know why it's green?

One of my little dreams for the church is to tear up the awful carpeting and have the Luminous Mysteries put into the floor of the main aisle, opposite the Sorrowful Mysteries on the ceiling. It could be a nice mosaic or something. Because St. Anthony's altar and the old baptistery break up perfect evenness in the Joyful-Glorious layout, the Baptism of the Lord would end up in the floor right in between the Visitation pictured above and Pentecost:

Now this would be quite a lovely accident, because Jesus and John in the Baptism could parallel the postures of each other's mother in the Visitation window. John and Jesus would recapitulate their previous meeting in utero, except the other way around, accentuating the humility of the scene and the objection of John.

Then, the Holy Spirit that appears in the Baptism could parallel the radiant Dove in the Pentecost window. As you can see, I'm full of ideas on this fourth Sunday of Advent.


Anonymous said...

Father Charles, I agree 100% on the carpeting. You should have seen its predecessor, a gold 70's era shaggy type. (Or maybe better you did not see it!) But underneath, is the original floor from 1914, which is a tile floor with a pattern. It is visible in some older photographs of the Church. I am sure that the carpeting was installed at the time that the altar rail and the original elevated pulpit with a clamshell backing were removed and discarded. A couple of sections of the original carved wood altar rail remain in the cellar as dusty vestiges of the church's original design.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the background! I have a picture in my office in which the clamshell and altar rail are visible.

Speaking of, another thing I'm always curious about is the question of crucifixes on the side altars. They must have had them at some point.

Anonymous said...

I'm still reeling from your yesterday's post. It so struck me. It's the most amazing thing I heard in 2009 so far. If only I could reach that level of non-selfhood.

Bless said...

Good morning Father Charles...Good suggestion about removing the carpets, but I disagree putting the luminous mystery on the floor. I will have to tip-toe in the middle of the isle worrying on stepping on them. Those will be blessed upon completion and I do not think it is OK to walk on them. Putting a Luminous mosaic on some of the vacant spaces on church walls would be better. Sorry Father....

Brother Charles said...

It's funny, Bless; you're not alone! A lot of folks make this objection when I bring up my little "plan." It just doesn't seem like a big deal to me; I've been in many churches in Europe in which the floors are full of designs and sepulchers and everything else, and it seems to work fine.

I'm just looking to make the parallel; I wouldn't put them on the walls for that reason...only the aisle will give the balance of the four sides. :)