Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
I hope you got a chance to read the article we reprinted last week on the glorified body and the resurrection of the dead. I think I first read about the qualities of the glorified body when I was a kid and it seemed too good to be true. It seems to be the stuff of superheroes. Which of course is exactly true if you consider our saints to be superheroes.
The three properties I found the most fascinating were agility (the ability to suddenly go somewhere at the speed of thought), subtlety (as when Jesus, after the resurrection, appeared to the Apostles able to pass through doors, not limited by space) and clarity, or brilliance (like Jesus at the transfiguration, bright as the sun).
Well, I don’t know if you noticed, but since the Easter Vigil Mass this year, all the paintings of the saints in the sanctuary of the church are finished. Finally. At times I have made cracks about the unreliable artist who never seemed to get them finished. People would scowl when I would say these things, thinking I was badmouthing somebody, not knowing that the artist was me.
So here’s a quick review. First of all, they are oil on wood panel, and the background, in the tradition of iconography is 24k gold leaf, depicting heaven. The halos of the saints (or their nimbuses), symbols of holiness in art history, are white gold leaf.
We wanted people from the Old Testament, New Testament, family of Jesus and our parish family to be represented. Since the generous donations of the 12 panels ($60K) were a
significant source of funding for the pipe organ and the rededication of our church 22 November 2010, we also wanted also to have saints who have music as a part of their story.
Starting from the top left, you see Miriam, sister of Moses. She sang and played her tambourine when the Israelites came miraculously through the Red Sea, which is for us a sign of our Baptism. Next to the right is King David, of the family line of Jesus, who also played his lyre and danced at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem. The third panel is the prophet Isaiah, holding the scroll that Jesus proclaimed at the beginning of his public ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me…today this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
As Isaiah is pointing to Jesus on the crucifix from the left, from the Old Testament side,so on the opposite side (top row) we see John the Baptist, the prophet from the New Testament who is pointing back to him. Next is the mother of Mary, Saint Anne, Jesus’ grandmother. We thought it would be great to represent the elderly in our family in this way. Finally, another musical saint, Saint Cecelia (holding a little pipe organ) is the upper right panel. She is the patron saint of musicians, and we dedicated the church on her feastday, Nov. 22.
Bottom far left is Saint Joseph, to whom we entrusted all our parish renovations these past years, and to whom we entrust our families. On the lower far right is Saint Leonie Aviat, the founder of our Oblate Sisters of Saint Francis DeSales. At the dedication of the church, we installed her relic in the base of the altar stone.
The remaining middle four panels were chosen because they are the patrons of the four parishes which have been born from Saint Mary: Saints Jude, Patrick, William of York, and Matthew the Evangelist.
Finally you may notice that they are much more colorful, almost richly dressed despite the reality that most were not wealthy. They are dressed in their Sunday best, wearing their wedding garments to come to the wedding feast of the Lamb in our later days. It is the Mass! We gather as the bride of Christ, the Church, and celebrate with them already having a taste of the beauty of heaven that we hope to share with them one day.
You may notice I worked back into their garments a lot of the gold of the background. In a small way I wanted to indicate their brilliance, the ordered way of beautiful patterns, how the glory of God literally shines through them for us to see. Their garments almost dissolve in the light of heaven as they become witnesses of the beauty of Jesus, in heaven just as they were on earth. So may we also be!
God bless you.