(THIS HOMILY WAS GIVEN AT OLM ON OCTOBER 5, 2014)
This weekend we have unveiled the beautiful MAGNIFICAT WINDOWS that will flank either side of our high altar by Christmas. These windows are currently being worked on by master artists in Pennsylvania, and if you go to their website, you can sometimes watch them working on the window throughout the day.
Our Archbishop is planning on visiting up in late December to bless these beautiful American Masterpieces that were designed specifically for our parish. Because our parish is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, these two great windows are related to the Blessed Virgin.
On the western window we will have a depiction of the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel visits the Virgin to tell her that she will give birth to the Christ. In our window, the Virgin Mary will be depicted wrapped in a pieced-quilt, and set among a grove of Mountain Laurel. Around her will be various song birds of the Appalachian Mountains. As such, we place the long-ago event of the Annunciation into a familiar setting of North Georgia.
Along with the Crucifixion, the Annunciation is one of the most often painted or depicted of all the events in the Bible. That is because so much depends upon the answer of the Virgin who is full of grace. The Lord gives all humanity a second chance. Whereas all humanity was vexed by the disobedience of Eve, and her husband Adam, God will now bless all humanity based on the obedience of Mary, and of her son Christ Jesus our Lord.What Eve refused, Mary chooses, and as such, the redemption of humanity is set into motion.
On this Pro-Life Sunday, then, it is appropriate to reflect upon the Annunciation of Mary, as she chooses life, and not just the life of one child (the Messiah) but she chooses life for all of us. And so the story of the Christ begins with this miraculous conception
– that a Virgin will bring forth the Redeemer of the World.
The triangular window above the Annunciation window will depict the first four days of Creation, and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, who was present at the Creation of the world, and who hovers above the Virgin at the moment of the recreation of the world.
On the eastern window will be the Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin. The Virgin is brought into the heavenly realm of the angels and received by her Divine Son, Christ the King. God the Father will be depicted above her, dropping down upon her a crown of stars.Mary is the prototype of all Christian disciples. She goes before us into the presence of the Lord to be our advocate and queen, and we, the saints of God, will with grace follow her.
In the triangular window above this will angels who represent the last three days of Creation. And so in the upper windows we will reflect upon creation, whereas in the middle windows, we will reflect upon the Lord’s plan to recreate the world through new birth in grace.
In the lower windows, will be eight saints who represent different paths in the spiritual life. There are four women and four men. There are bishops, priests, monks, friars, deacons, sisters, and laity.
Historically and ethnically they’re diverse as well … with backgrounds that are Irish, Italian, Spanish, German, Jewish, English, Hungarian and French.
They include missionaries and martyrs, celibates and married folk. They represent different ages in Church history, and they represent the wisdom of the ages, with doctors of the Church and with religious founders.
Behind these eight saints will be a quilt pattern in beautiful, jewel toned glass, all hand made in Germany, with depth and character in the timeless techniques of ages past.
Each of these hundreds (or possibly thousands) of pieces of glass will be webbed together by beads of lead, like a great mosaic of color. The artists will paint upon them detail that will be burned into the glass pieces. These windows, long anticipated, will inspire the generations that follow us here. It should be a beautiful Christmas, friends.
These windows will be called “the Magnificat Windows” because incorporated into the windows will be part of that prayer of the Virgin Mary, our patroness.
We are very, very grateful to the family that has so graciously given to this great work of art. The stained glass windows, as planned, will bring great attention to our parish.
On our website there is more information about the window, and we can find a link there to visit the website of the studio in Pennsylvania where the windows are currently being made by hand. In our narthex you’ll see a copy of the water color sketch of the window designs. In the days ahead, we will learn more about other planned windows that are planned for the rest of the church (many of these have already been sponsored, but there are some still left).
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I hope you can appreciate just how special your parish church is.
For the most part, the world would have us believe that this kind of craftsmanship is impossible in our day, but your parish proves otherwise.
Our Lady of the Mountains will be one of the most beautiful churches in Georgia when we are done, but it is not for our glory, but for the glory of our God. Let us look forward, with great anticipation, to all the blessings he has in store for us here at this blessed place.