Take a look around

By | July 28, 2010

The Gospel for this weekend reminds us that we need to see what is right in front of us. Mary recognized the treasure of the Lord in her presence. When is the last time you looked around the church for the physical treasures that remind us of Jesus, Mary and the saints?

When I was a little girl, with Mass in Latin, I had ample time to look at the windows and statues. The liturgy now calls us to active participation, so we must take extra time for church gazing. Take a walking tour of your church. Look closely at the stained glass windows. Even newer churches have windows put together with certain colors or patterns that speak to the faith in our hearts. You may notice at the bottom of a window, “in memory of.” Remember your parish ancestors and pray for them.

Look at the statues. How many can you readily identify? Does the main altar hold an altar stone? Such a stone is embedded into the altar and holds a relic (a fragment of bone, material etc.) associated with a particular saint.

My parish of Most Blessed Sacrament is a newer parish. As Fr. Jim and I assembled the treasures from three former parish sites, we learned a lot of history. One monstrance has jewels on it because the women of the parish donated their personal precious stones. We have altar cloths with lace tatted by women in Lithuania, the birthplace of St. Josaphat (one of the former parishes). One set of the Stations of the Cross were created by one of the first women sculptors of the 20th century. We found vintage vestments with ornate embellishments and a Corpus Christi canopy that dates back at least 100 years. Many of these pieces no longer serve today’s liturgy, but they do come out throughout the year so we as a parish, can appreciate our history and the artistry of our ancestors.

Similar treasures exist at your parish. If you see a piece that interests you, seek out a longtime parishioner and ask what they know about it. If you are in a new church that has not carried over pieces from other parishes, you are beginning your own sacred treasury stories right now. Take your children around the church, point out the statues and windows to them. Learn the name of the architect and artists used by your parish. Explain to your children how these people of faith heard Jesus speaking and responded in glass, stone and vessels. Indeed, like Mary, we hold a treasure. Let us pay attention to it.

 

Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh.

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