Looking on this photo I can appreciate the lack of clarity it presents in my post. However, I wonder if it was any clearer to my 4 y/o grandson when he spent an hour one day continually returning his gaze upwards towards this lighted portal.
It was First Communion Day for his siblings, four of them in their blended family receiving. The little one was with his ‘Mamie and Bawpa’. He was unusually calm, according to the stories we heard previously. I watched him closely, between watching the others just ahead of us and still participating in mass. His gaze was usually ‘up’ toward the outstretched arms of a Risen Christ.
Did he know that? I wonder. Time after time over the hour I’d look at him and his gaze was up. Oh, not always, but he didn’t busy himself with his normal fussing or turning of pages or squirming out past the two of us on either side. He was calm. He was nearly still. And he looked ‘up’ a lot.
Now, you have to know how I struggled in the last two years over the changes in the mass. I don’t care for some of the words the ‘experts’ translated, I don’t care for the opportunists’ ploys to push the rituals back to pre-Vatican II in the changes, and I don’t care that the Church documents say that the organ is THE most appropriate instrument for music at mass. What’s with those ‘old men’ in the Vatican, are they tired of hearing us sing from the pews? Are the voices of the masses resounding to dissonant on the altar they have to be drowned out?
Don’t get me wrong, this is a whine, not a rant, and only to point out that the words, the music and for this case, the décor about a Catholic church building is about catechesis, about teaching everyone who views the statues, glass windows, stations of the cross, and crucifixes. I’m a teacher by profession and I studied learning psychology and the means to use as many mediums as possible to get an idea so deeply imbedded into someone they would change their behavior because of it.
The Catholic Church has been using its churches in this fashion since just after the turn of the first century A.D. (see the link below). So much for my whining.
My grandson knows. Beyond any means I have for teaching him, God can reach into his heart through the work of an artist neither of us is likely to meet. There, in front of the boy, way up over his head was a white image opening His arms to him.
I may not care for the pundits, but I’m a fan of the catechist artists forever.
For a catechetical tour of my parish church building, St John Newman, Sunbury OH;