The guide that follows are the stained glass windows in the nave of our upper church. The images depicted in these windows have inspired many generations of Catholics at Saint Patrick’s. You might take this text with you and walk through the upper church by yourself or with family or friends. What do you see in the windows, how do they inspire you, and what spiritual questions do they raise?
The First Window
The Nativity (Mt. 1-2, Lk. 2)
In this window, the infant Jesus looks strikingly happy. Of course He is happy! Jesus has come to a world that has fallen far away from God.
Jesus brings the full power of God’s life and love, to offer every person the power of salvation. Jesus is happy because He loves us. He gives His entire self in love to save us from everything that comes between God and us, and everything that separates us from true love of one another.
Jesus is joyful because He is the Savior of the world, offering His entire self in love to you.
How do you respond?
The Second Window
The Call of the Fishermen (Lk. 5)
Jesus approaches a man named Simon and his friends, who are washing their nets after having worked hard all night but having caught no fish. Jesus gets into Simon’s boat and asks him to put out a short distance from the shore so
He may teach the crowds from the boat. Simon – the man clad in green in this window – looks very tired. After Jesus finishes preaching, he asks Simon to put out into deep water and lower his nets for a catch. Although he is tired, Simon does so.
He and his friends subsequently catch a miraculously great number of fish! Jesus tells the frightened Simon and his friends that they will now become fishers of men. Simon . . . who becomes Saint Peter . . . and his friends leave everything and follow Jesus.
Our current generation of the Church has been called to put out into deep water and more boldly serve as Jesus’ disciples and evangelists. To what extent do you accept, embrace, and enjoy this call?
The Third Window
Jesus and the Children
(Mt. 9; Mk. 10; Lk. 18)
Surrounded by children, Jesus tells his disciples, “. . . Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk. 10). Jesus is saying that children have certain qualities that people of all ages – in-cluding adults – must live out in order to be His authentic disciples.
What might be some of those qualities? Unconditional love? Readiness to forgive? Eagerness to serve those in need? Open-ness to ideas beyond one’s own?
Consider in which of these qualities you are currently alive, and which you need to embrace more actively in order to more fully enter the kingdom of God.
The Fourth Window
Saint Joseph the Worker (Mk. 6; Mt. 13)
In many images of Saint Joseph the Worker, Joseph is depicted as physically teaching carpentry to Jesus. In this window, Jesus is on the opposite side of the scene from Joseph.
Jesus is standing next to a well and holding a water jug (which, interestingly, is pointed toward the window depicting the Wedding at Cana). Although Jesus grows up as a carpenter, woodworking is not His destiny. He is to be the source of living water for all of humanity. . . “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn. 4).
What are the most important ways in which you actively draw spiritual water from the wellspring of eternal life offered by Jesus?
The Fifth Window
The Wedding at Cana (Jn. 2)
The details and characters from this familiar biblical text are beautifully portrayed in this window. There is a big problem at the wedding celebration: The wine has run short. Jesus intervenes and miraculously transforms water into fine wine to provide for all the guests. In our marriages, many of us struggle with big problems.
In Lawrence today, the sacrament of marriage is unfortunately rare. This window reminds us that Jesus wants to intervene in our big marital problems to strengthen and restore marriage. For His grace to unfold, we must follow Mary’s instructions to the servers at the wedding at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you.”
How do you witness to this truth?
The Sixth Window
Christ Heals the Sick
(Mt. 9; Mk. 2; Lk. 14; Jn. 4)
Represented in this window are the healing miracles of Christ. We see above Christ’s head the paralytic being carried by his friends (Mt. 9; Mk. 2).
In the forefront, we see the Roman official whose daughter Christ heals (Jn. 4). Off to the side, we see the cripple whom Christ heals in Lk. 14. With all that is going on, there is a solitary figure seated on the steps in the upper left background of the window.
This solitary figure does not seem to be watching anything that Jesus is doing. Does this person not care about what Jesus is doing? Has this person chosen to be apart from Jesus? Have other people pushed this person away from Jesus? Has the person not yet heard about Jesus? Who will go to find out what is going on with this solitary figure?
This window profoundly reflects the challenge and opportunity of evangelization in our community today.
The Seventh Window
The Good Samaritan (Lk. 10)
Christ is the New Law. He does not come to abolish the Old Testament law, but to fulfill it (Mt. 5). In the story of the Good Samaritan, the priest first passes by the man who has been beaten. In the window, the priest buries his face in the Scripture, alluding to the fact that he is following the Old Law.
The Levite’s face is not covered by the Scripture, but he also passes by the man who has been left for dead. The Samaritan does not pass by. Moved by compassion, he enters into the situation of the injured man and directly cares for him.
The Samaritan lives the New Law of Christ – selfless, compassionate, merciful love in action for a person in need.
How actively do you live the kind of love the Good Samaritan lives? Lawrence is full of opportunities to put into practice Christ’s New Law of love.
The Eighth Window
The Death of Saint Joseph
All the characters in this scene are looking at Saint Joseph, waiting for him to die, except the angel in purple at Jesus’ shoulder. The angel is looking at Jesus.
Is the angel wondering what is going through Jesus’ mind? Surely Jesus, who weeps at the death of His friend Lazarus, is deeply moved by the earthly death of Saint Joseph, who has been a faithful husband for Mary and strong foster father for Jesus.
Jesus surely experiences emotional pain at the death of Saint Joseph. At the same time, Jesus knows fully that God has brought to the world through Him the power to ultimately lead Saint Joseph beyond earthly death to eternal life.
In the deaths of loved ones you have experienced, what is the balance of your emotional pain and your confidence in the eternal life Jesus offers to those who hear His word and observe it?
The Ninth Window
The Raising of Lazarus
Everyone in this window who witnesses this miracle, including Lazarus, looks shocked at what has happened. This is only natural! Christ has revealed to the crowd that He is the instrument of God’s power of life over death.
The crowd may wonder, “If Jesus can raise Lazarus from the dead, is there any limit to His powers?”
The answer to that question is “No”. Jesus is the eternal Son of God. There is nothing on this earth over which He cannot exercise power and dominion.
What spiritual realities have you witnessed that reveal to you the infinite power of Jesus . . . the power in which He invites you to trust and grow?
The Tenth Window
The Multiplication of the
Loaves and Fishes
(Mt. 14; Mk. 6; Lk. 9; Jn. 6)
The expressions on the faces of the people in the crowd in this window appear doubtful. The two men above Christ look as if they are placing a wager . . . “Will it work or not?”
Yet, with their doubt, these people choose to remain in the presence of Jesus. As a result of that choice, they experience the reality of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and they all are fed.
We experience doubt in our faith lives. In times of doubt, our critical choice is often whether we will remain in the presence of Jesus and allow Him to speak to us and work in our lives.
What do you do with your spiritual doubts, and do you assist others with theirs?
The Eleventh Window
The Woman with the Alabaster Jar (Lk. 7)
Notice the expressions on the faces of the Pharisees in this scene. They are put-off and perplexed by the woman who is washing Christ’s feet with her tears and anointing His feet with ointment.
The Pharisees are so caught up in their inappropriate and incorrect judgment of the woman that they do not realize that her sins have been forgiven.
How often do you allow your personal judgments of people – which are so often incorrect – to block your understanding of who they truly are, and where they actually stand in relationship with God?
The Twelfth Window
Saint Michael Casts Satan into Hell
In this window, the angle of Satan’s arm on Saint Michael’s spear is bent in such a way that it appears that Satan is assisting Saint Michael in driving the spear into his own body.
It is too awkward of an angle for Satan to be trying to push the spear away. Satan has a very nonchalant, unaffected look on his face. He does not look nearly as upset at what is happening to him as one might think he would. Satan knows very well that he is the prince of evil and father of lies. Satan knows that his final defeat has already been assured through the power of Christ.
Are you clear about the reality of Satan, and about the certitude of his ultimate defeat?
The Thirteenth Window
Christ the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10)
Christ is the Good Shepherd. He searches for us when we stray, and once He has found us, He carries us on His shoulders. While He holds us in His arms, He invites our heartbeats and breathing to fall into rhythm with His.
We are all sinners. We all make errors in our faith lives, foolishly wandering away from the Shepherd and the rest of the flock. We must allow ourselves, when we fall, to be picked up by Christ and carried in His arms, so that we may become closer to Him and more united with His flock, the Church.
How do you experience Jesus as the Good Shepherd in your life?
The Fourteenth Window
The Last Supper (Mt. 26; Mk. 14; Lk. 22)
This window includes a juxtaposition of Saint Peter and Judas in the forefront of the scene, seated in front of the table and on either side of Christ. In Mt. 25, Jesus says of the final judgment, “… and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’. . . . Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. . . .’” In this Last Supper scene, Saint Peter is portrayed on Christ’s right side and Judas is on Christ’s left. Both Saint Peter and Judas are sinful men. However, through a continuing process of conversion, Saint Peter becomes the Rock upon whom Christ builds His Church, and thus inherits, “the Kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world.” In what ways do you relate to Saint Peter? In what ways do you relate to Judas?