MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN A STAINED GLASS WINDOW
Isaiah 64:3 and First Corinthians 2:9
Brothers and Sisters,
There are tons of things that lifelong Catholics know about but cannot define or explain. I remember in both middle- and high school being asked by friends and others questions like these:
- why do you Catholics use smoke at your holidays and your funerals?
- why is your Catholic Sunday service all about a game with secret codes you have to say?
- why do you make the Cross on yourself with that water at the doorway?
These were just the starters. In fact, the Holy Faith is so special that it looks very strange to those who do not experience it. Even those who call themselves Catholic but do not participate or practice the Holy Faith find it to be strange, at best.
A classic explanation to those who find the Holy Faith to be weird, strange (or whatever) is to talk about a stained glass window in most Catholic parish buildings. Most often, the stained glass window will be a depiction of Christ or a saint. The point is, though, that from outside of the Church-building, the window looks dark, eerie, and difficult to identify (“what that that even supposed to look like after all?”). From inside the Church-building, however, the stained glass is luminous, strikingly beautiful, inspiring, and often breathtaking. From inside the Church you can actually see the beauty of a stained glass window. If you only stand outside of the Church, the stained glass appears gloomy, clouded, and even creepy.
Both figuratively and literally: if you are outside of the Church, the practice of the Holy Faith looks weird, different, and odd from a worldly, secular perspective. You have to actually show up and practice the Holy Faith to see the Holy Faith from a divine perspective.
A silly example: I am not from Italian heritage and my parents, generally, do not like Italian food. Growing up, we rarely had anything resembling Italian food – though, on occasion, we would have spaghetti with some meat in a red sauce. As I grew up and went to visit friends at their homes, I found strange sounding foods like: penna alle vodka, cacio e pepe, risotto, pesto of all kinds, carbonara, chicken cacciatore, and countless more. They all sounded weird, they all looked strange, many of them did not even taste good to me on my first try. I love Italian food now, but when I was first introduced to it, it was very foreign to me and I reacted negatively to even trying it.
The Holy Faith is similarly foreign to the world. It seems weird and odd to the secular culture and to those who barely practice the Faith. In my silly example: if you refuse to try Italian food, you will never know how amazing it really is; if you do not dive all-in to the Holy Faith, you also will never know how amazing it truly is.
God be near,