According to Isabel Piczek, one of the artists who completed the mural at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, “Great art is more important than merely a decoration. It must carry a message. The message of sacred art is the manifestation of divine truths. It is through the human being that the great eternal truths and spiritual qualities are expressed.”
Bishop Dywer and Monsignor Brennan, a California liturgist, assisted in planning the intricate mural, interpreting Thomistic teaching on the Holy Eucharist. Our Catholic tradition comes from a time when the masses could not read, at least what we traditionally call writing. The question is, “Can we read our mural and our stained glass?”
As we look at our altar from our church pews, we see to our left, Our Blessed Virgin. Above our Blessed Virgin is a small mural by Edith and Isabel depicting the Holy Family. The center of this mural is our blessed Virgin. St. Joseph bows to her. Lambs mill around as she holds the Omer Elohim, the Lamb of God, in her hands. This centrality of the Holy Family is central to Edith and Isabel. They depict the Holy Family in the main mural, and in the mural above the statue of St. Joseph. The Holy Family, and what it represents, separates Catholics from Protestants.
Revelations 12:5 speaks of her, “A woman gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.” Psalm 2:6-9 refers to this child as a king who will rule the earth with an iron hand.
Revelations 12:17, “The Taanah became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those keeping God’s commandments, and bearing witness to Jesus.”
The great question of Revelations 12:17, and what separates Catholics from Protestants is, “Who are “The rest of her offspring,” and what does it mean to be “The rest of her offspring?” Our English word, “Nativity,” and our English word, “Nation,” have the same root. A nation is a people born together, by heritage, if not by location or blood. We are all offspring of the Blessed Virgin, adopted into the Catholic Family through baptism in Holy Mother Church.
Being family implies moral obligations to each other not inherent in the Protestant understanding of basic morality. We bear witness to Jesus, “The Personal Name Saves.” We bring knowledge of Salvation, Jesus. As part of the Evening Liturgy of the Hours, we recite to each other:
The Almighty has done great things for me and dedicated is his Name
He has shown mercy on those who look to him in every generation
He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones; and has lifted up the lowly
He has filled the hungry with nobility and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant he who struggles with God for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers to Abraham, E Pluribus Unum, and his children forever.
This is a manifesto from our very poor Blessed Virgin to Elizabeth, the oath of Elijah, the wealthy wife of a priest, Remembrance/Zechariah. She speaks of equality among her children. He pulls down the mighty from their thrones, and lifts up the lowly. He fills the hungry with nobility and sends the rich away empty. The sense of being equal, one with another, children of the same common mother, unites us.
Looking to our right, we see St. Joseph the worker, whose feast is May 1, of each year, Labor Day in most of the world. Above the statue, again, is a depiction of the Holy Family. St. Joseph is central. This is the moment of his death.
Jesus and Our Blessed Virgin hover next to him, symbolizing how the Lamb of God and Holy Mother Church are with us from our birth to the moment of our death. “Pray for us, Holy Mother of God, now and at the moment of our deaths.”
Many of us have ceased identifying manual laborers as workers. We are now white-collar, retired, or unemployed workers. “White collar, unemployed and retired” are adjectives modifying, “Worker.” We are still workers.
English, has two key words, “Vocation,” and “Profession.” “Vocation” is Latin for “calling,” our calling from God. “Profession,” comes from the root, “to profess.” We profess our faith, and fulfill our vocation, our calling from God, through our vocation as professional bankers, and lawyers. St. Joseph reminds us, we are all one community of workers in service to God.