a Walk through our Church – Part I
March 25 (Monday), the Solemnity of the Annunciation, marks the second anniversary of the dedication of our altar and the blessing of the renovations to our Church. It seems like so long ago. As we are so blessed with such a beautiful Church, we can easily overlook the significance and meaning of the various elements, adornments, and artwork. Our altar, along with the ambo and tabernacle throne, were carved in Italy from stone that was quarried just outside of Jerusalem. This is significant in that we literally have some of the Holy Land present in our Church. What a beautiful physical and spiritual connection. Encased and sealed in the altar beneath the mensa are relics of six different saints. The relics include small fragments of the bones of Sts. Lawrence, Lucy and Maria Goretti (martyrs) and Sts. Francis of Assisi, Gerard Majella and John Vianney (confessors). The tabernacle is adorned by two angels on each side portrayed in postures of adoration. The shape of the tabernacle echoes the lines of the Church. Just as the Church is the Domus Dei (House of God), so too is the tabernacle, as it holds the Blessed Sacrament in reservation. The tracery patterns of the Church windows can be seen in the gables of the tabernacle with the dome. This same tracery pattern is also repeated in the medallion above the portico in the cortile. More significantly are the two silver figures of Moses and Elijah on the front panels of the tabernacle framing the center panel of the doors upon which there is a polished silver cross. This reflects the Transfiguration of Jesus when he showed his glory to the apostles on Mt Tabor. Thus the tabernacle is situated atop the highest elevation inside the Church. This serves as the reminder of Mt. Tabor and the hill of Calvary as we look up to the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. On the tabernacle are cast two scripture passages. Above the panels is Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) Is. 6:3 and Rev. 4:8. Below are the words of Jesus, Ego Sum Panis Vitae (I am the bread of life) Jn. 6:35.
The gold marble flooring in the sanctuary reminds us that when we participate in the sacred liturgy we enter into a sacred/heavenly space.
In the Mass, earth and heaven meet as Christ comes to us in His Holy Word and Sacrament.
The marble floor in the nave (center aisle) and surrounding the sanctuary has seven mosaics representing the cardinal and theological virtues. Beginning at the entrance to the Church are the virtues or Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude. Around the sanctuary, facing the altar, on the left is the mosaic of the virtue of Faith, with Hope on the right side and Love in the center before the altar. The mosaic of Love is a representation of the 5th century mosaic from the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish at Tabgha on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus miraculously fed the five thousand. The flooring pattern itself runs from east to west connecting the new Church to the chapel (the original Church) and from north to south from the main entrance to the Shrine of St. John Vianney. At the intersection is the holy water fount which is the original baptismal fount of the parish. In the Shrine of St. John Vianney, on the left wall, is an Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and on the right, encased in the wall, is a brick from the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The presider and deacon chairs in both the Church and Chapel were crafted from wood that had been salvaged from the original flooring of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica (1847) in Galveston after the Cathedral suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Ike in 2008. In another letter we will look at the statues and the Stations of the Cross.
Have a holy Lent!
In pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately