Our Church Tells A Story
How does a building tell a story? It does not write or speak, so it uses form, shape and art. Our parish church is no exception. To help tell the story we are using, in part, Dante Alighieri’s
and its wonderful spiritual imagery.
She stands on the corner of a major intersection of our city — a bold statement of faith and vision is offered to all who pass by her. One cannot miss the strength and steadfastness with which this building has stood for a greater truth.
of God stands confidently as a constant reminder of the beauty and most stupendous quality of God’s love. Jesus’ hands and heart are open to all who desire to enter her.
Entering the narthex (Gathering Space), she greets us with the visual of the triumph of life over death. The stained glass windows of Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension boldly state that life will always triumph.
At the top, we see one of our own, Mary, assumed into the fullness of God’s heaven. She is the first of our race to enjoy the grace of being body and soul united in the fullness of the Kingdom of God’s eternal love.
Those who choose to rebel against God’s love will not taste the beauty of heaven. As was true when St. Michael defeated Satan and his minions it is also true for all who choose their own way over God’s.
As Dante begins his tour of the Inferno, he reads a sign over the door,
“Abandon all hope, you who enter here.”
The figure of death will not allow those who desire to leave to do so.
We are invited to enter more fully into the church through the entrance of the temple whose veil has been torn, rendering a greater access to God’s presence in our lives. She takes us past the reminder of sacramental entrance into God’s life by baptism.
East of the baptismal font is the icon of
Our Mother of Perpetual Help
* mosaic prominently displayed so our hearts may be filled with a great hope in her Son’s saving death.
The St. Vincent de Paul icon located on the West side of the baptismal font was designed for the parish as a commemorative piece of the celebration of our 75th anniversary. This icon helps us remember the sacrificial heart of our parton saint. It is meant to help us remember to follow the example of St. Vincent.
Our church tells us the story of the Gospel in thirty-one stained glass windows on the east and west side of her sanctuary. Two more in the confessional area call us to remember his mercy and restoring love found in the sacrament.
At the very beginning of the aisle is an abstract of the symbol of St. Theresa o
f Avila’s second pool from her
“The other fountain,
like divine consolations, receives the water from the source itself, which signifies God: as usual, when His Majesty wills to bestow on us any supernatural favours, we experience the greatest peace, calm, and sweetness in the inmost depths of our being; I know neither where nor how.”
God’s grace fills our souls as it does the fountain.
And from that fountain flows the
River of Light.
Our church bids us enter the nave that we might approach the True Presence of God celebrated at the altar and reserved in the tabernacle. As Dante traverses the heavens he hears the holy ones’ desire to live God’s will: "…
it’s the essence of this blessed existence to hold ourselves within the will of God through which our own wills are made one with His … For in His will is our peace”
n the words and images of Dante we are greeted with a river of light from which we must drink with our eyes if we are to see the light who is Light, “
pure light, intellectual Light, filled with Love, Love of true Goodness, filled with Joy,
Joy that transcends every Sweetness”
(Canto 30, Paradiso).
From this river, angelic sparks rise and descend, like rubies, on the saints who line the banks and then return to the source of the light. They bring God’s grace and return with the praises of the saints. During holy Mass, we receive this grace through our readings, prayers and lessons; and, in return, we give back to God our thankful praise through our attention, singing and responses.
Finally we reach the
That sacred army, that Christ espoused with his blood, displayed itself in the form of a white rose … This kingdom, safe and happy, crowded with ancient peoples and the new … Man becomes such in that light, that to turn away to any other sight is beyond the bounds of possibility”
And so our church bids us gaze with all these angels and saints, with those whose relics we enthroned in our altar, to the God who is real and present at every holy Mass and always in our tabernacle.
We stand with the heavenly hosts as we receive Him who is Lord. We stand with them as we receive Confirmation. Couples are surrounded by this sacred army as they pledge their lives. The bodies of our loved ones rest over the Rose as we ask God to welcome them to the eternal Kingdom of Light and Love.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God”
Our church tells a story
— one of faith, commitment, tradition, truth and the wisdom of God’s vision for us, namely to enter into the Light of eternal Love, Peace and Goodness.
* The mosaic of Our Mother of Perpetual Help has been part of SVdP for decades. During the renovation of 2000, the addition of the Cry Room and Sunday Sacristy caused the mosaic to end up in that sacristy and hence not publically visible. It is a joy to remedy that.