SAINTS MONICA AND AUGUSTINE
Monica and Augustine are mother and son. Monica found in the Catholic faith everything that young Augustine could not grasp. In his youth, he was intelligent and skilled as an orator and lawyer. He thought he could find fulfillment in physical pleasure and the accolades of others. All of that became unfulfilling for him, as he found his life being far removed from truth and beauty. All the while, in his waywardness, his mother Monica prayed unfailingly for him. She shed countless tears over his self-destruction, and she took her broken heart to God as her son floundered and failed in the culture of his times. Finally, Augustine discovered his mother’s Catholic faith. Through great mentors, like bishop, St. Anselm, and his mother’s prayer, he was baptized and became an advocate for the faith. He eventually was ordained to the priesthood and became a bishop.
St. Monica prays with us now in our community as a mother’s voice to God for her child who is worse than physically lost. Her son, Augustine, was lost spiritually. She pleaded to God to intervene in her son’s life. Even though Augustine dismissed her as being irrelevant and overly pious. God intervened and prayers were answered. Augustine’s life was turned around, and what was once lost, was finally found. He used his gifts of communication and his intellectual skills to convey to all, the beauty and truth of our Catholic faith. The two of them stand as a witness that we too, cannot give up on our wayward children, especially those, who for now, seem spiritually lost.
SAINTS FRANCIS AND CLARE
Clare and Francis of Assisi were friends, spiritual friends, who sought the same goal – God. Both grew up in the town of Assisi, Italy. Both were of the upper class society. In his younger days Francis had his priorities set on wealth and fame and on increasing his family’s popularity and rising in the ranks of prestige. Clare’s younger days were spent in prayer, living in the shadow of social convention which would dictate, eventually, marriage. From her family’s expectation her marriage would solidify themselves in the noble class, since her husband-to-be would be chosen from the upper class of their society.
Francis was the first to undergo conversion and change. A failure at being a knight and sent home in sickness and labeled a deserter bringing his family shame, he heard instead the voice of God calling him to defend another kingdom, the Kingdom of God. This is when Clare noticed him and his heart’s change. Walking away from family expectation and social convention and under protest from her family, she joined Francis in his call to follow Christ. Both Francis and Clare founded religious communities that radically followed the Gospel call of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Their spiritual friendship began a renewal in the life of the Church. In our window, Francis is shown with the stigmata, he bore on his body, the actual marks of Christ on the cross. Clare is shown with a monstrance that contains the Eucharist. She held it aloft over her convent wall to scare off warring invaders. She and her nuns remained unharmed. May their spiritual friendship build up the same deep friendship in our community that can root us in the Gospel and bring us closer to God.
SAINT THERESE OF LISIEUX
Strategically positioned in our church next to her parents, Sts. Louis and Zellie Martin, St. Therese was known as a spoiled child, catered to by her father and older sisters. At a very young age, she experienced the death of her mother. Into her teen years, she felt the subtle call of Christ to become a cloistered nun. She radically gave up everything to follow Christ into a life devoted to prayer. However, in her monastery she also wanted to reach out. She felt compelled to be a missionary. She wanted to bring Christ to convicts on death row. She wanted to bring Christ to foreign lands that were hostile to Christianity. Her prayers from behind monastery walls, it is reported, enlightened the lives of people far and wide. This young woman was able to fulfill her vocation and call to the life of being a missionary, while still living behind the walls of her Carmelite monastery. This is one reason that St. Therese is known as the patron saint of missionaries. May she pray with us in our community so that we do not neglect the power of prayer and the call to be missionaries in our own ways of spreading the Catholic faith and the help of God. In our window she holds nine roses, which represents each sibling in her family. Before her death she said that from her place in heaven she would do good on earth, and she would let fall a shower of roses, symbols of God’s grace.
WINDOWS OF FAITH
In preparation for our 60th anniversary as a parish community in 2024, the renovation of our church continues to go forward. Past projects included upgrading the lighting and the sound system. We also received a generous donation to install listening devices for those who are hearing impaired.
Now we are refurbishing the windows in the main body of the church. Again, this is not how I wanted this project to roll out; however, because of the abrupt close to church this project commenced without much communication. In the little that has been said about it, I did receive already a generous donation to cover much of the cost for the windows. God provides!
The project has been named “Windows of Faith” because now our church windows will make an artistic statement of faith. Out of the sixteen windows in the church, ten of them will display images of saints. The Communion of Saints in our Catholic Tradition, is an artistic treasure of holy, sacred lives who have, in their own way, given a complete “YES” to God. The ways in which they did this had everything to do with their times. When the noise and din of the world overwhelmed, some of these men and women pushed against their times by retreating into solitude and silence. In time they were much sought out for their advice and wisdom. When the poor and the neglected were viewed more as a nuisance and a scourge, holy men and women came forward and took to heart that God would raise up the lowly and so these saints dedicated their lives to promote human dignity. When the culture took up other gods such as pleasure, wealth, power, prestige, saints rose up to live the radical call of the Gospels, the call of discipleship which is the call to sacrifice and even to suffer in order to will the good of others. In dangerous times, oppressive times, not so distant times of threats to religious freedom and basic human rights, saints came forward to lay down their lives and die for the faith so many take for granted today.
THE FIRST THREE WINDOWS
Three saints have been installed for our inspiration. The first three represent the three Christian vocations in which we, as Christians, can follow faithfully the purpose and will of God for our lives. The first is St. Patrick, who inspired our very own St. Brendan. Patrick is one who represents the vocation of Holy Orders. The next window includes both St. Louis and St. Zelie Martin. They are the first married couple canonized together. They are the parents of St. Terese of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower. They experienced the joy and struggle of relationship. Both had their health issues. Zelie was bipolar and suffered from bouts of depression. Louis succumbed to a type of dementia. In the midst of struggle, they relied on God in a most simple yet profound way. Also, installed is Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, when he is canonized he will be known as a saint of the Eucharist, chastity in single life, dedicated to the dignity of the poor, and seeking counsel from his Catholic faith even when his own household was rather indifferent. They are a “YES” to the will of God as they lived out God’s great gift of life.
THE REST OF “THE FELLOWSHIP” OF THE WINDOWS
Who else is joining us?
(1) St. Bridget of Kildare,
(2) Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi,
(3) Sts. Monica and her son, Augustine,
(4) Sts. John Paul II and Maximilian Kolbe,
(5) St. Elizabeth Ann Seton,
(6) St. Kateri Tekakwitha,
(7) St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
At every Mass, heaven and earth come together. The Communion of Saints join with us in offering thanks and praise to God. These particular saints will cheer us on as an assembly of faith. Their “YES” tells us not to be afraid to offer the same with our lives to the God who gave us life. They will offer their prayers with ours, will give us guidance and direction we need, and one day will bring us into their company in eternal life.