Our Lady of Lourdes

Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes

Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes

One of the most famous Marian apparitions is was witnessed by Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 in Lourdes, France. This 14-year-old and chronically ill girl saw the Blessed Virgin Mary standing in a small grotto.

Ballinasloe St. Michael's Church, South Aisle, window depicting Our Lady of Lourdes (left) by William Earley.

Ballinasloe St. Michael’s Church, South Aisle, window depicting Our Lady of Lourdes (left) by William Earley.

 

Ballinasloe St. Michael's Church, South Aisle, window (detail) depicting young Bernadette at the feet of Our Lady of Lourdes. This window is by William Earley.

Ballinasloe St. Michael’s Church, South Aisle, window (detail) depicting young Bernadette at the feet of Our Lady of Lourdes. This window is by William Earley.

Initially, few believed her account but her steadfast telling of the apparition won some over. Bernadette would see Our Lady of Lourdes eighteen times. Huge crowds gathered for some of the later apparitions as the story of Bernadette spread.

Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in Brazil

Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in Brazil

 

Bernadette was instructed by the beautiful lady to drink from a newly-discovered spring in the grotto; later, many miraculous healings occurred and were attributed to the water at Lourdes.

Our Lady of Lourdes, 2011, painting by Stephen B Whatley

Our Lady of Lourdes, 2011, painting by Stephen B Whatley

Today, Lourdes is a magnificent Marian shrine where millions visit each year.

Conrad Pickel’s  stained glass image Our Lady of Lourdes from Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes site, Marinette, WI.

Conrad Pickel’s stained glass image Our Lady of Lourdes from Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes site, Marinette, WI.

Conrad Pickel’s  stained glass image of Saint Bernadette from Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes site, Marinette, WI.

Conrad Pickel’s stained glass image of Saint Bernadette from Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes site, Marinette, WI.

February 11th is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the patron of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Raytown, Missouri.

Pope Benedict visits the Lourdes grotto.

Pope Benedict visits the Lourdes grotto.

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

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“And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), and thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed'” (Luke 2:33-35)

Today is a good day to reflect on Mary and to pray for the grace to be obedient to God. Mary, though the mother of God Incarnate, was still the very model of humility and obedience to God.

Merciful God,
Through the intercession of
The Blessed Virgin Mary,
Give me the grace to follow
Mary’s example of faith and obedience
So that I may grow close to You
Through Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who lives and reigns with You
And the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Homily for November 9, 2014 — the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Façade of the Lateran Basilica.

Façade of the Lateran Basilica.

Today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. What, one could fairly ask, is a Lateran Basilica and why do we celebrate it?

A basilica is a specific type of church building; the word itself comes from a Greek term that means “royal house.” There are 1580 minor basilicas in the world and 325 in the Americas. There are 69 basilicas in the United States. My academic preparation before ordination to the Permanent Diaconate was done at Conception Seminary College and Conception Abbey in the northern part of our diocese. Conception Abbey is home to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, which is an incredibly beautiful building and is the heart of both the monastery and the college.

When a church is designated a basilica, it is because of its antiquity, dignity, historical value, architectural and artistic worth, or significance as a center of worship; it is also accorded special ecclesiastical privileges and enjoys a special bond of communion with the Holy Father.

A basilica will have within its space a silk canopy of red and yellow stripes — the traditional papal colors. It will also have a tintinnabulum, which is a bell mounted on a pole. Both of these are carried in procession on special occasions. Minor basilica also enjoy the right to display the crossed keys — the papal symbol — on its banners, furnishing, and seal.

There are four major basilicas in the world, all in Rome. The major basilicas are: St. John Lateran, St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and St. Mary Major. These are papal basilicas.

St. John Lateran Basilica, the dedication of which we celebrate today, is the cathedral of Rome. It is the Pope’s cathedral and as such is the mother church of all Christendom and is the first among churches throughout the world. It was dedicated by Pope Sylvester on this day in the year 324. That means for one-thousand, six-hundred, and ninety years the Lateran Basilica has served Holy Mother Church.

"Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput" ("Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.") Inscription on the façade of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome).

“Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput” (“Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.”) Inscription on the façade of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome).

That’s what a basilica is in general and what the Lateran Basilica is specifically. That is the easy part of the question to answer. The second half of the question — why do we celebrate it? — is slightly harder to answer. To answer that, we have to consider not only what the nature of a church is, but what our own nature is.

In today’s Gospel reading, we encounter Christ making a whip to drive people from the Temple and flipping the tables of merchants who were making the Temple a house of commerce. “He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, ‘Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.’”

Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple, by El Greco

Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple, by El Greco

This was enough to cause the disciples to remember the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house will consume me. Christ was passionate about the Temple.

In the first reading, we hear a beautiful description from Ezekiel about water flowing from the Temple. An angel tells the prophet, ““This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

The Temple is where the Israelite encountered God. It was the house of God. In this respect, it is very much like our church today. This church is the House of God. Christ is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Tabernacle. We receive Him in the Holy Eucharist. This is where we come to encounter God.

Our diocesan cathedral is the mother of all churches in our diocese, and St. John Lateran — the cathedral of the Holy Father — is the mother of all churches in the world. That, in itself, is enough to celebrate it. But let’s take it one step farther.

The Papal cathedra is located in the apse of the Lateran Basilica . The decorations are in cosmatesque style.

The Papal cathedra is located in the apse of the Lateran Basilica . The decorations are in cosmatesque style.

In today’s second reading, Paul writes “Brothers and Sisters: You are God’s building.” You are God’s building. Full stop. Does this mean that God should be inside of me and that others should encounter God Almighty the Eternal Ruler of the Universe when they encounter me? Yes. If I am living the life I am called to live, then yes. Absolutely. This does not mean that I am God, but rather that God dwells within me and within you and within all of the faithful not because of our own merit, but because we have encountered Him in the Church and in the waters of baptism. Just as the prophet saw water flowing from the Temple and renewing the world, so, too, do the waters of baptism flow forth from the Church and renew us, making us the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and preparing us to renew the world.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God,” Paul writes, “and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”

The world may call us consumers, or workers, or voters, but the world is not the final authority. God tells us that we are His Temple, and therefore are holy. The Lateran Basilica is a mirror and a reminder to us; this is true of all churches.

A church should be beautiful and richly decorated because it is the House of the Lord and God deserves the best; it should also be beautiful and richly decorated because it serves as the constant reminder that the life to which we are called is one of great beauty. The beauty of the physical church building reminds us of our Christian dignity and that we are called to the things of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Some would argue that the Church has no business possessing beautiful buildings with priceless murals, fine art, expensive statuary, and rich stained glass. They would argue that those things should be sold and the money used to buy provisions for the poor. Judas once made a very similar argument. The world would be far worse for it.

And so today we celebrate the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and in a certain way we celebrate all churches throughout the world. These are the houses in which God dwells and in which we encounter our Lord and our God. These are the houses that transform us and are a reflection of us.

Brothers and Sisters: we are God’s building. Because of this, we are called to live a life worthy of our Christian dignity. We are called to live a life of beauty and holiness such that we see our lives mirrored daily by the wonderful art and grand architecture of the finest churches.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Conception Abbey, Northwest Missouri.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Conception Abbey, Northwest Missouri.

The Feast of St. Luke — Oct. 18

Detail of St. Luke from the the San Lucas Polyptych (70'' × 91'' total, 1454), a panel painting by Northern Italian Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna, seen today at The Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Art Gallery), Milan. St. Luke’s Feast Day is October 18th.

Detail of St. Luke from the San Lucas Polyptych (70” × 91” total, 1454), a panel painting by Northern Italian Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna, seen today at The Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Art Gallery), Milan. St. Luke’s Feast Day is October 18th.

San Lucas Polyptych (70'' × 91'', 1454)

San Lucas Polyptych (70” × 91”, 1454)

 

Saints Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr

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Today is the Feast of Saints Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr. Saint Cornelius was elected Pope in 251 during the persecutions of the Emperor Decius. In 253 Cornelius was exiled by Gallus and died shortly after. He is venerated as a martyr.

Saint Cyprian of Carthage, one of the great fathers of the Church in Africa, was a close friend of Pope Cornelius and was his ardent supporter against the antipope Novatian and in support of Cornelius’ teaching concerning the re-admittance into the Church of those who had committed apostasy in the face of Roman persecution.

Cyprian is the author of “The Unity of the Catholic Church,” written in the mid-200s, in which he argues that Christian unity is grounded in the authority of the bishop and in the primacy of the See of Rome.

“You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother…. God is one and Christ is one, and his Church is one; one is the faith, and one is the people cemented together by harmony into the strong unity of a body…. If we are the heirs of Christ, let us abide in the peace of Christ; if we are the sons of God, let us be lovers of peace.” — from “The Unity of the Catholic Church” by St. Cyprian.

Cyprian was exiled and then martyred on the fourteenth of September, 258, during the persecution of Emperor Valerian.

The Springtime of Education

This article originally appeared as the editorial in the Spring 2014 issue of The Stained Glass Quarterly.

As I write this, spring started just a few days ago. There were pellets of ice somewhere between snow and sleet on the windshield when I left the house this morning. Still, that didn’t stop me from picking up (more) seeds and three new seed-starter trays when I went to the home and garden store after lunch today.

Officially, I was there to pick up a few things for the Stained Glass School that will be needed at the next enamels class, which will be held in April. Still, there’s no sense in not making opportunities for multitasking… especially at the lawn and garden store.

Especially in early spring.

If I actually plant all the seeds I have right now, I’ll end up with enough fruits and vegetables to feed a multitude. But that’s not the point. After all, it’s not just about growing fresh fruits and vegetables — although certainly that’s a wonderful side benefit — it’s also about what the seeds represent: possibility. Potential for growth. Potential for the future.

In a certain way, that’s also how I see the SGAA’s Stained Glass School: potential and possibility. After all, the purpose of education is to plant seeds in the mind that will grow into talents and abilities in the student.

In a certain way, anyone can make a stained glass window — not automatically, certainly, but anyone with a reasonable intellect and a reasonable degree of dexterity can be taught to work in stained glass. So what separates just anyone from someone who makes truly beautiful stained glass windows? Raw talent? Temperament? Aptitude?

If success truly is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration, then the willingness to put in the hours of practice and study and the willingness to strive to become better must certainly constitute the majority share of what makes greatness. True education does not produce the final end product; rather, it plants the seed that the student must water in the field of experience if true growth is to be realized. It gives the student tools to use as he builds on the foundation laid.

I believe in the Stained Glass School because I believe in the value of education. Learning can be its own end; some things a person learns are learned simply for the joy of knowing. However, much more frequently, learning is undertaken as a means to an end: one wants to pursue a career making beautiful stained glass windows; therefore, one pursues an education in stained glass so that one can be successful in that career. The foundation is laid in the classroom.

The Stained Glass School has long been a publishing and scholarship-granting body. It is very gratifying now to see it becoming so much more. The classes it offers are building in both diversity and frequency. No longer are they limited strictly to the SGAA’s Annual Summer Conference. Now workshops are made available throughout the year at the SGAA Headquarters just outside of Kansas City.

The seed has been planted, and it will continue to grow. Quality stained glass education from a reputable school is desperately needed in this country; the Stained Glass School has recognized that need and is working to address it in ever-expanding ways.

It truly is the springtime of education in the field of stained glass.

St. Genevieve of Paris

Fresco from the Church of St. Stephen and St. Germain, Vezelay, France.  This fresco cycle depicts scenes from the life of St. Germanus (Germain) of Auxerre. Here, St. Germanus blesses St. Genevieve of Paris.

Fresco from the Church of St. Stephen and St. Germain, Vezelay, France. This fresco cycle depicts scenes from the life of St. Germanus (Germain) of Auxerre. Here, St. Germanus blesses St. Genevieve of Paris.

Today is the feast day of St. Genevieve (422-500), Patroness of Paris, whose prayer and encouragement of her fellow Parisians to not flee but to remain in their homes in prayer once saved Paris from Atilla II and his Huns. In this fresco, she is being blessed by Bishop St. Germanus; after hearing him preach when she was seven, Genevieve made the decision to dedicate her life to the service of Christ and His Church.

The Blessing of St. Genevieve of Paris, detail.

The Blessing of St. Genevieve of Paris, detail.

St. Genevieve of Paris Icon

St. Genevieve of Paris Icon

St. Genevieve of Paris Icon

St. Genevieve of Paris Icon

Saint Genevieve icon by Howard Anderson. Oil and metal leaf on linen and wood 34" x 48" Located at Saint Genevieve High School, Panorama City, CA.

Saint Genevieve icon by Howard Anderson. Oil and metal leaf on linen and wood 34? x 48? Located at Saint Genevieve High School, Panorama City, CA.

St. Genevieve

St. Genevieve

This painting of St. Genevieve is on display at the Carnavalet Museum.

This painting of St. Genevieve is on display at the Carnavalet Museum.

St. Rose of Lima (left) and St. Genevieve of Paris from St. Louis Catholic Church, Buffalo, New York.

St. Rose of Lima (left) and St. Genevieve of Paris from St. Louis Catholic Church, Buffalo, New York.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

O God,
who made Saint Thomas Aquinas
outstanding in his zeal for holiness
and his study of sacred doctrine,
grant us, we pray, that we may understand
what he taught and imitate what he accomplished.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

— Concluding Prayer of Lauds on January 28; the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

"Saint Thomas Aquinas," by Carlo Crivelli. 15th Century

“Saint Thomas Aquinas,” by Carlo Crivelli. 15th Century

“Everything imperfect must proceed from something perfect: therefore the First Being must be most perfect. Everything is perfect inasmuch as it is in actuality; imperfect, inasmuch as it is in potentiality, with privation of actuality. That then which is nowise in potentiality, but is pure actuality, must be most perfect; and such is God.” — Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas stained glass

Saint Thomas Aquinas stained glass

Today is the feast day of my patron saint, Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church!

St. Thomas Aquinas was born in Aquino, Italy, in 1225, the youngest son of Count Landulf. St. Aquinas was educated at the Abbey of Monte Cassino and at the University of Naples.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor.

Simply I learned about Wisdom, and ungrudgingly do I share—
her riches I do not hide away;
For to men she is an unfailing treasure;
those who gain this treasure win the friendship of God,
to whom the gifts they have from discipline commend them.
— Wisdom 7:13-14

In 1244, St. Aquinas entered the Dominican Order. He continued his education in Paris and Cologne, studying under St. Albert the Great. He became a Master of Theology at the University of Paris.

Aquinas wrote the Summa Theologiae and the Summa Contra Gentiles, among other works. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1567 by Pius V who called him the Angelic Doctor.

The Angelic Doctor

The Angelic Doctor

“Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.” — Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

“A man has free choice to the extent that he is rational.” — Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas

“Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.” — St. Thomas Aquinas

The Angelic Doctor

The Angelic Doctor

“How is it they live in such harmony the billions of stars – when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their minds about someone they know.” — St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” — St. Thomas Aquinas

The Angelic Doctor

The Angelic Doctor

“Wonder is the desire for knowledge.” — St. Thomas Aquinas

Come, Holy Spirit, Divine Creator, true source of light and fountain of wisdom! Pour forth your brilliance upon my dense intellect, dissipate the darkness which covers me, that of sin and of ignorance. Grant me a penetrating mind to understand, a retentive memory, method and ease in learning, the lucidity to comprehend, and abundant grace in expressing myself. Guide the beginning of my work, direct its progress, and bring it to successful completion. This I ask through Jesus Christ, true God and true man, living and reigning with You and the Father, forever and ever. — a Student’s Prayer, by St. Thomas Aquinas

Saint Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales

Today is the feast day of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. “Those who are learned will be as radiant as the sky in all its beauty; those who instruct the people in goodness will shine like the stars for all eternity.” — Lauds Gospel Canticle Antiphon from the Common of Doctors.

St. Francis de Sales Mosaic

St. Francis de Sales Mosaic

“The heart that is taken and pressed with a desire of praising the divine goodness more than it is able, after many endeavours goes oftentimes out of itself, to invite all creatures to help it in its design.”  — St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales Icon

St. Francis de Sales Icon

“You aim at a devout life, dear child, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God’s Divine Majesty. But seeing that the small errors people are wont to commit in the beginning of any under taking are apt to wax greater as they advance, and to become irreparable at last, it is most important that you should thoroughly understand wherein lies the grace of true devotion; — and that because while there undoubtedly is such a true devotion, there are also many spurious and idle semblances thereof; and unless you know which is real, you may mistake, and waste your energy in pursuing an empty, profitless shadow.” – From the beginning of An Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales.