Back to The Gospel in Glass

In Christianity on March 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Back in August, I began a series, Gospel in Glass — examining the figures and images presented in the altar window at St. Mary’s Church (Greenville, SC). For more than a century, this “Gospel in Glass” has offered worshippers an opportunity to meditate on Our Lord’s Passion. Let’s return to the window, with thanks and praise to Jesus Christ, the central figure.

Earlier posts suggested how to “read” the window, and begin with the paving stones at the very bottom of the scene. The next posts were about St. Mary Magdalene, prominently shown in the window (see here and here).

Much remains to be written about other figures in the window, most of all, Our Savior.  But while anticipating that, one of the first things a viewer notices in all of the windows at St. Mary’s is a charming anachronism: the image in each window is framed by The Church — not St. Mary’s, but a large, stone Cathedral, in which each scene is set.

The interpretation is not difficult. In God’s eternal plan, He foreordained that Christ would give His life for us, establishing His Church, and nothing will ever prevail against His glorious work (Matthew 6:18). Thus, all of salvation history is set in the context of The Church.

Thus, when we pray in The Liturgy of the Hours, “surround your people, Lord, within the safety of Your Church” (Tuesday, Week III, Evening Psalm-prayer), we see that prayer literally represented in the windows at St. Mary’s.  In praying this prayer, we are also praying for all Christians. There is “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:5-6).

The Gospel in Glass shows that unity:  God’s people, from the Old Testament to the New, surrounded within the safety of Christ’s Church.  May this cause us always to give thanks to Jesus Christ, the Church’s One Foundation — anticipated and foreshadowed in the Old, and gloriously realized and established in the New.

Christianity Richly!

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