Monsignor Yennock on the Saints in the Stained Glass Windows - Homily from April 7, 2019

Apr 8, 2019

SAINTS IN THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT APRIL 7, 2019

IN THE MIDDLE AGES STAINED GLASS WINDOWS WERE USED TO TEACH STORIES OF THE BIBLE AND ABOUT THE SAINTS. BECAUSE THE MAJORITY OF EUROPE’S POPULATION COULD NOT READ, STAINED GLASS WINDOWS BECAME THE CHURCH’S STORYBOOK. THROUGH THESE BEAUTIFUL WORKS OF ART THE CHURCH TAUGHT IMPORTANT RELIGIOUS EVENTS IN THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT.

BEFORE THE INVENTION OF THE PRINTING PRESS, STAINED GLASS WINDOWS WERE SOMETIMES CALLED: THE PEOPLE’S BIBLE.

WHEN THE NEW ST. DANIEL CHURCH WAS BUILT, THE HISTORIC STAINED GLASS WINDOWS THAT GRACED THE ORIGINAL CHURCH WERE INCORPORATED INTO THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE NEW BUILDING.

EVERYTIME WE COME INTO THIS BUILDING TO WORSHIP WE LOOK AT THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS BUT I WONDER HOW MANY OF US KNOW THE EVENTS THAT ARE DEPICTED IN THESE WINDOWS.

TODAY WE ARE GOING TO IDENTIFY THE EVENTS AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE MEMORIALIZED IN EACH WINDOW.

WE WILL BEGIN WITH THE WINDOWS CLOSEST TO THE SANCTUARY ON YOUR LEFT.  IN THE FIRST FOUR WINDOWS WE SEE THE NATIVITY OF OUR BLESSED LORD, THE FINDING OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE, THE CRUCIFIXION OF OUR LORD AND HIS GLORIOUS RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD.

THE NEXT TWO WINDOWS DEPICT ST. PETER, THE FIRST POPE AND ST. PAUL THE GREAT MISSIONARY OF THE EARLY CHURCH.  THE NEXT GROUP OF FOUR ARE THE EVANGELISTS, MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE AND JOHN. THEY WROTE THE FOUR GOSPELS. MATTHEW AND JOHN WERE IN THE ORIGINAL BAND OF TWELVE APOSTLES. LUKE WAS A GREEK PHYSICIAN AND CONVERT TO THE FAITH. HE WAS A COMPANION OF ST. PAUL. MARK ACTED AS A SECRETARY TO ST. PETER.

ON YOUR RIGHT NEAREST THE SANCTUARY WE SEE FOUR PROPHETS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. EZEKIEL LIVED DURING THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY IN THE SIXTH CENTURY BEFORE CHRIST. HE PROPHESIED ABOUT THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL AND THE BUILDING OF A SECOND TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM.

 

JEREMIAH LIVED DURING THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY IN 586 B.C.

HE PROHESIED THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE. HE ALSO PROHESIED ABOUT THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH. LIKE MOST OF THE PROPHETS JEREMIAH WAS HARRASSED AND PERSECUTED.  

 

ISAIAH WAS A HEBREW PROPHET WHO LIVED ABOUT 700 YEARS BEFORE THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST. BORN IN JERUSALEM. ISAIAH PROPHESIZED IN MINUTE DETAIL THE LIFE AND CRUCIFIXION OF THE MESSIAH JESUS CHRIST. BESIDES GIVING US THE WORD OF GOD, ISAIAH IS CONSIDERED AN EXQUISITE POET AND HIS WRITING A LITERARY MASTERPIECE.

 

  1. JEROME WAS A BIBLICAL SCHOLAR WHO LIVED IN THE FOURTH CENTURY. HE HAD AN EXCELLENT EDUCATION IN ROME WHERE HE STUDIED LATIN AND GREEK LITERATURE AND HISTORY. HIS MAIN INTEREST WAS BIBLE STUDY AND THE TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE FROM HEBREW AND GREEK INTO LATIN. MOST OF HIS WORK WAS DONE IN A MONASTERY THAT HE FOUNDED IN BETHLEHEM.

 

JEROME’S WORK IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE HE HAD ACCESS TO MANUSCRIPTS AND SOURCES THAT ARE NO LONGER IN EXISTENCE. HIS MONUMENTAL WORK WAS THE VULGATE EDITION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE WHICH HE TRANSLATED INTO LATIN.

 

  1. JEROME WAS A CONTEMPORARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE. HIS LEGACY IS NOT ONLY TRANSLATIONS AND COMMENTARIES ON THE BIBLE BUT ALSO HIS SKILL AS A HISTORIAN. HE PRESERVED FOR POSTERITY HISTORICAL INFORMATION OF THE FIRST FOUR CENTURIES THAT CANNOT BE FOUND ANYWHERE ELSE.

 

DANIEL THE PROPHET IS THE PATRON OF OUR PARISH. HE LIVED IN THE SIXTH CENTURY BEFORE CHRIST. DANIEL MIRACULOUSLY ESCAPED DEATH IN THE LIONS’ DEN AND IN THE FIERY FURNACE.

 

DANIEL CAME TO THE ATTENTION OF THE EMPEROR BECAUSE OF HIS ABILITY TO INTERPRET DREAMS AND OTHER SIGNS. EVENTUALLY DANIEL ROSE UP TO BE THE SECOND MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE BABYLONIAN AND PERSIAN EMPIRES. DANIEL PROPHESIED VERY CLOSELY THE TIME THAT THE MESSIAH WOULD COME INTO THE WORLD.

 

THE LAST AND GREATEST PROPHET OF THE OLD TESTAMENT WAS JOHN THE BAPTIST A COUSIN OF JESUS OF NAZARETH. JOHN PREPARED THE WAY FOR THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH. HE WAS BEHEADED BY KING HEROD.

  1. ALOYSIUS WAS BORN IN ITALY IN 1568. HE WAS BORN INTO NOBILITY AND WEALTH. HIS FATHER WANTED HIM TO SERVE IN THE MILITARY. ALOYSIUS HAD OTHER ASPIRATIONS.

AFTER READING A BOOK ABOUT JESUIT MISSIONARIES IN INDIA, ALOYSIUS FELT STRONGLY THAT HE WANTED TO BECOME A MISSIONARY. HE STARTED PRACTICING BY TEACHING CATECHISM CLASSES TO YOUNG CHILDREN WHILE ON VACATION.

AT THE AGE OF 16 HE PERSISTED IN HIS DESIRE TO ENTER THE SOCIETY OF JESUS. WHERE HE WAS ORDAINED A PRIEST. HIS FAMILY WAS VIOLENTLY OPPOSED TO HIS ENTERING THE RELIGIOUS LIFE BECAUSE HE HAD TO GIVE UP HIS INHERITANCE AND ANY TITLES OF NOBILITY THAT HE WOULD HAVE INHERITED.

WHILE STILL A STUDENT AT THE ROMAN COLLEGE A PLAGUE BROKE OUT IN ROME. THE JESUITS OPENED A HOSPITAL FOR THE STRICKEN, AND ALOYSIUS VOLUNTEERED TO WORK THERE.[7] AFTER BEGGING ALMS FOR THE VICTIMS, ALOYSIUS BEGAN WORKING WITH THE SICK, CARRYING THE DYING FROM THE STREETS INTO THE HOSPITAL. THERE HE WASHED AND FED THE PLAGUE VICTIMS, PREPARING THEM AS BEST HE COULD TO RECEIVE THE SACRAMENTS.

ALOYSIUS DIED OF THE PLAGUE IN 1591.

NEXT WINDOW—ST. AGNES. ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE INDICATES THAT A YOUNG GIRL OF ABOUT THIRTEEN YEARS OF AGE, A VIRGIN NAMED AGNES, WAS MARTYRED IN ROME AND HONORED FOR HER SACRIFICE. A CHURCH WAS BUILT OVER HER TOMB, AND HER RELICS VENERATED.

ST.AGNES WAS A MEMBER OF THE ROMAN NOBILITY, BORN IN AD 291 AND RAISED IN AN EARLY CHRISTIAN FAMILY. SHE SUFFERED MARTYRDOM DURING THE REIGN OF THE ROMAN EMPEROR DIOCLETIAN, ON JANUARY 21, 304.

 

THE NEXT WINDOW IS DEDICATED TO ST.CHARLES BORROMEO.

CHARLES BORROMEO LIVED IN ITALY IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY DURING THE TIME OF THE PROTESTANT REVOLT, COMMONLY CALLED THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION.

AS CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF MILAN, CHARLES WAS A LEADING FIGURE OF THE CATHOLIC REFORM OF THE CHURCH. TOGETHER WITH ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA AND ST. PHILLIP NERI. HE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR SIGNIFICANT REFORMS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, INCLUDING THE FOUNDING OF SEMINARIES FOR THE EDUCATION OF PRIESTS.

IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY, THE RELIGIOUS AND MORAL CONDITION OF THE CHURCH IN THE ARCH-DIOCESE OF MILAN WAS FAR FROM BRIGHT. REFORM WAS NEEDED IN EVERY PHASE OF CATHOLIC LIFE AMONG BOTH CLERGY AND LAITY.

CARDINAL BORROMEO CALLED A PROVINCIAL COUNCIL OF ALL THE BISHOPS UNDER HIM. SPECIFIC REGULATIONS WERE DRAWN UP FOR BISHOPS AND OTHER CLERGY. HE WAS DETERMINED TO REFORM THE CHURCH.

  1. CHARLES CHOSE TO LIVE THE LIFESTYLE OF THE PEOPLE OF HIS DIOCESE. HE KNEW THE IMPORTANCE OF TEACHING BY EXAMPLE. HE GAVE MOST OF HIS FAMILY WEALTH TO CHARITY. HE FORBADE HIMSELF ALL LUXURY, AND IMPOSED SEVERE PENANCES UPON HIMSELF. HE SACRIFICED WEALTH, HIGH HONORS, ESTEEM, AND INFLUENCE TO BECOME POOR SO THAT HE COULD MINISTER TO THE POOR.

DURING THE PLAGUE AND FAMINE OF 1576, ST. CHARLES TRIED TO FEED 60,000 TO 70,000 PEOPLE DAILY. WHEN THE CIVIL AUTHORITIES FLED AT THE HEIGHT OF THE PLAGUE, CHARLES REMAINED IN THE CITY, WHERE HE MINISTERED TO THE SICK AND THE DYING.

THE HEAVY BURDENS OF HIS OFFICE TOOK ITS TOLL ON ARCHBISHOP BORROMEO’S HEALTH. HE DIED AT THE AGE OF 46.

  1. VINCENT DE PAUL WAS BORN IN FRANCE IN 1581. VINCENT DE PAUL WAS EDUCATED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TOULOUSE IN FRANCE. SHORTLY AFTER HIS ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD HE WAS SAILING FROM MARSEILLE, FRANCE, WHEN HE WAS CAPTURED BY MUSLIM TURKS AND SOLD INTO SLAVERY IN TUNIS, NORTH AFRICA.  

    THEN SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY HAPPENED. VINCENT WAS ABLE TO CONVERT HIS OWNER TO CHRISTIANITY AND ESCAPE TO EUROPE. DIVINE PROVIDENCE SPARED HIS LIFE TO ACCOMPLISH A MISSION GREATER THAN VINCENT EVER IMAGINED.

 

VINCENT DE PAUL IS THE FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MISSION, A RELIGIOUS ORDER OF MEN BETTER KNOWN AS THE VINCENTIANS. THESE MEN WHO TOOK THE VOWS OF POVERTY, CHASTITY, AND OBEDIENCE PREACHED MISSIONS IN PARISHES AND SCHOOLS. THEY ALSO TAUGHT IN SEMINARIES THAT PREPARED MEN FOR THE PRIESTHOOD.

TODAY, THERE ARE 4000 VINCENTIAN PRIESTS IN 86 COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD.

 

LIKE HIS CONTEMPORARY, ST. CHARLES BORROMEO, VINCENT DE PAUL WORKED FOR THE REFORM OF THE CHURCH IN FRANCE. HISTORY IS A WITNESS TO THE FACT THAT THE CHURCH IS ALWAYS IN NEED OF REFORM BECAUSE IT IS MADE UP OF SINNERS LIKE YOU AND ME.

 

  1. VINCENT DE PAUL IS BEST KNOWN FOR HIS WORK WITH THE POOR AND THE SICK. ST. VINCENT DIED IN 1660. BUT LESS THAN 200 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH A YOUNG TALENTED FRENCH COLLEGE STUDENT BY THE NAME OF FREDERIC OZANAM WAS INSPIRED TO START THE ST. VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY IN 1833.
  2. VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY IS THE LARGEST LAY CATHOLIC CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION IN THE WORLD. THE SOCIETY TODAY HAS MORE THAN 750,000 MEMBERS OPERATING IN 146 COUNTRIES.
  3. VINCENT ORGANIZED MANY WEALTHY NOBLE WOMEN IN PARIS TO VISIT, FEED, AND NURSE THE SICK POOR. EVENTUALLY HE FOUNDED, ALONG WITH LOUISE DE MARILLAC THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL.

 

THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY SOON BECAME KNOWN THROUGHOUT EUROPE AND EVENTUALLY IN THE UNITED STATES FOR THEIR WORKS OF CHARITY ESPECIALLY IN BUILDING SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS AND ORPHANAGES FOR THE POOR. IN OUR OWN DIOCESE, THE SISTERS OF CHARITY RAN THE CATHEDRAL SCHOOL IN SYRACUSE AS WELL AS OUR LADY OF LOURDES HOSPITAL IN BINGHAMTON.

 

TODAY THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY ARE AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OF ALMOST 17,000 CATHOLIC WOMEN WHO LIVE AND MINISTER IN 95 COUNTRIES ALL OVER THE WORLD.

 

THE SAINTS ARE NOT JUST PIUS FIGURES IN STAINED GLASS WINDOWS. THEY ARE REAL WOMEN AND MEN WHO HAVE SHOWN THE POWER OF ONE PERSON TO INFLUENCE THOUSANDS AND MAYBE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. IT IS TRUE THAT ONE PERSON CAN LITERALLY CHANGE THE WORLD.

DANIEL, JEREMIAH, JOHN THE BAPTIST, JEROME, CHARLES BORROMEO, VINCENT DE PAUL AND LOUISE DE MARRILAC DID BEAUTIFUL THINGS TO BENEFIT THE WORLD. CONTRAST THEIR LIVES WITH PEOPLE LIKE MARX, LENIN, STALIN AND MAO TSE TUNG WHO GAVE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE NOTHING BUT UGLINESS, SLAVERY, TORTURE, SUFFERING AND DEATH.

IN TODAY’S GOSPEL, WHAT WAS JESUS REALLY SAYING TO THE WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY? HE WAS SAYING: “GO NOW AND DO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL FOR GOD.”