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Monday, August 3, 2009

Stained Glass Windows

Have you ever looked at the stained glass windows of a Church from the outside? They look rather ugly and uninteresting; some may wonder what the windows depict but most go about their way without considering the windows in much detail simply because there isn't much detail to be seen! From the outside vantage point, the stained glass windows look dark and imposing and even ugly!


Now, regard the stained glass windows as pre-figuring the Church itself. When having an outside vantage point, people fail to see the beauty within the Church. In fact, the Church may appear overly imposing, dark, unfriendly, cold, uncaring, certainly out of step with the outside world's point of view. The windows certainly don't look very special from the outside perspective! The Church opens its wide "portal" doors in hopes of attracting those who get a glimmer of its beauty (from the stained glass windows -figuratively and literally). It attracts the curious, the interested, and the open.


When someone steps inside the Church - both figuratively and literally - he or she sees the beauty of the stained glass windows for the very first time - the light streams through them re-creating them. The windows look incredibly different from the inside than they did from the outside. While light may surround the outside of the windows, it fails to expose the true beauty of the windows. A person with new faith will see a newness and a new-found beauty; they begin to appreciate the depth of the light within the Church. One never fully appreciates the Church's beauty when remaining on the outside looking in; it's only from the inside can we wonder in awe at God's truth and creation.


Until we have the opportunity to see the stained glass from the inside - where the light is allowed to re-create the windows - where the light underscores the imagery and reality of the Church, we fail to see and seek truth. When we remain on the outside, we will only see the "window's" flaws, the cracks or chinks in the windows, the need for tuckpointing, it's broken panes. But when inside the Church, we see things never before possible; we see depth, beauty, variety of colors (gifts), importance, significance, intensity, and necessity. It's from the inside that we can be awed by the stained glass; it's only from the inside that we can fall in love with the stained glass imagery and vibrancy. (sacraments, grace, moral and spiritual teachings, liturgical life, formation). We are all invited in to stay and experience the beauty and richness of the Stained Glass (the Church).



Think of this reflection the next time you go to Mass; study your Church's stained glass windows, regard them as God's invite to you to deepen your relationship with Him. He wants us all to grow in our faith, to renew ourselves, to unite ourselves to the Church. We are asked to draw in others as well. May we all be refined, renewed, re-stored to the Will of God.

Much of this reflection came from a homily I heard this past weekend; I thought you all may enjoy it as much as I did - just wanted to share it with you.


Check out my new release entitled: A Book For All Seasons. This book features beautiful, stained glass pictures which divide the various Liturgical Seasons of the Church Year. The readings and Gospels for each Sunday are given along with reflection questions, space to take homily notes so we can recall them later with family discussions. Finally, space is provided to reflect on the readings and the homily and write spitirual goals for the upcoming week. Check out http://www.fortifyingfamiliesoffaith.com/ for more information. This will make a great gift for yourself and your family and friends.

Vacations

Did you know that the root word for vacation means to empty? Guess that implies that a vacation empties us from past work, duties, assignments, responsibilities, etc. I would argue that few vacations empty us - rather a vacation can take us on a new adventure filled with new sets of opportunities and even work/responsibilities.


For instance, last week we went up north and spent a week on a lake. Getting there meant we had to plan and pack our way up north. We had to make endless trips in and out of the house stuffing the car and boat. Once we were there, our kids spent the entire time beating their brains against their skull while flying over lake waves on a tube and skis. Finally the effects of motion sickness began to take over. In fact, headaches were common.


Isn't it interesting, how headaches, mosquitos, bugs, nasty biting flies, sunburn, water & waves, help us to relax and enjoy each other's company just that much more!

While it may seem like I am complaining, I am not! Several years back we hear a talk at a convention which emphasized the wisdom of boating with teenagers. It allows boys to assume that wholesome "piracy role and adventure. After hearing the talk, we looked into buying a boat - an older one fit our pocket book. We found one perfect for a family with three kids - ok we settled! While our old boat is certainly not the cadillac on the lake, it has not let us down! The speaker 's assessments of boating with teens was right on!


It has allowed out teens to defy gravity and catch the big ones - fish and waves - OK, the fish are not really that big but big enough. Our son enjoys feeling like the skipper and a pirate! (well sort of). My husband enjoys the thrill of speeding and turning fast - similar to feelings he had while riding his motorcycle years ago! I love being on the water rather than looking at it from the shore. We have all had a great time bouncing over waves, and then stopping to jump in and swim. Tubing is like one giant roller coaster which goes for hours and hours without stopping!

Vacations are great - however I remain skeptical about their ability to empty us. Instead I think they re-fill our "gas tanks" with positive energy and mood!