It was April 13 of the year 2014. Maria had recently talked Bill into attending Catholic Mass for the first time. They sauntered into Mass together.
As they strode to the building Bill commented, “Can we say ‘Gothic.”
Before Bill and Maria stood a huge gothic cathedral. They sauntered into the vestibule and Bill stared at a Shamrock embedded in solid marble into the floor.
Bill quipped, “You said this was St. Patrick’s Church.”
As they strolled further into the church Bill quipped, “Who is that dude?”
Maria answered, “They call him St. Brendan the Navigator.”
Bill chided, “So that is why they have him holding a boat.”
Maria shot back, “No silly. For us, he symbolizes the wandering Irish saints who swept across Europe preaching and building monasteries while Europe lived in the dark ages. More important, it represents the major means of emigration for the poverty stricken Irish during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and Hispanics today.”
Bill quipped, “I am not Hispanic.”
Maria glared, “Look at me. I am.”
Bill diverted attention away from the prior topic, “Who is that lady?”
Maria answered, “That is St. Brigid. We remember her for her extraordinary charity and her miraculous healings. She also taught us how to pray and give service to God. She is the one who taught us, the light on the altar symbolizes the Gospel giving light to the world. We must never allow it to go out.”
Bill looked to his left and quipped, “That is a strange place to put a bird bath.”
Maria laughed, as quietly as possible.
She commented, “That is no bird bath. We call it a baptistry. They put it at the entrance of the Church to teach us the lesson of the Wedding at Cana. You did learn that story in your protestant background?”
He grumbled, “Of course, Jesus’ first miracle.”
She informed him, “Remember the size of the water containers?”
Bill commented, “Not really. It really does not matter that much.”
She giggled, “Silly, they were the same size as people. The Jews used them for ritual purification, penance, before they went to the wedding.”
Bill chirped, “That is an interesting piece of trivia.”
Maria continued, “You don’t get it do you?”
He answered, “What is there to get?”
Maria informed him, “The guests washed in the water, and Jesus turned that washing/ penance, into wine. In Psalms somewhere it says, ‘You raise grass for the cattle and plants for our beasts of burden. You bring bread from the earth, and wine to gladden our hearts. You bring oil to make our faces gleam, food to build our strength.”
Bill quipped, “So, you are saying, that the first step into becoming Christian or at least Catholic Christian is penance. This starts with washing?”
Maria added, “This washing gladdens the heart, as with the penitential water/wine of Cana. This makes us ready to join the Mystical Body of Christ. We may not be going to a wedding, but we are going to a romantic dinner with the groom, Jesus Christ. This is the solid foundation, ‘Cana’ in Hebrew, the Mass.”
She added, “The reason the baptistery is here is to remind us of our baptism into this Mystical Body of Christ.”
She pointed to the stained glass window above the handicapped door to the left of the baptismal font, “That is St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the River Jordan.”
Maria pointed to the stained glass window to the right, “That is Jesus as the Good Shepherd, as he tries to lead us in the way of life. I am republican because I am pro-life.”
He quipped, “That is nice.
They went to take their seats.
As they approached the three steps leading into the sanctuary Bill commented, “Look at that pretty mosaic in the front of the building.”
Maria commented, “Yes, The Great Virginia Window is very beautiful. Those who came before us put it in, in 1964. They dedicated it to President John F. Kennedy our first Irish-Catholic president of the United States.”
Bill quipped, “A democrat.”
Maria giggled, “Guess there is room for one good apple in every barrel.”
Maria quipped, “If you look very close, you will see a dove, the Dedicated Breath, the Great Helper at the center of this window. Tongues of fire (‘Ish’ in Hebrew) extend to the apostles in twelve radiating panels. If you look, you can make the twelve men (‘Ish’ in Hebrew,) the twelve apostles.”
Maria pointed out, “This is a Catholic Church. The top of the window depicts the Virgin Mary and the words ‘Ave Maria.’ You will also see members of Mary’s family, including St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, St. Elizabeth St. Joachim and below him his wife St. Anne.”
Bill chuckled, “Interesting.”
Maria pointed to the upper windows on the left side of the church. “That is St. Agnes and St. Ursula. In that window are St. Francis of Assisi and St. Niles, contemporary 12th century saints. You also see St. Augustine and St. Ambrose who taught St. Augustine. There is St. Peter and St. Paul, and the archangels, Michael and Gabriel.”