For blog readers following the Gospel in Glass series, two apologies. The first is for the long lapse between posts. September and October are two of my busiest months. Time to write was limited. The second apology is actually the basis for this post! So, let me provide some background.
Each year during RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the course adults take before entering the Church), one of the Deacons conducts a tour of St. Mary’s. The tour helps candidates and catechumens become familiar with the physical setting for the Liturgy. A major part of the tour is an explanation of the stained glass windows.
Although I had previously heard the Deacon identify the figure at the foot of the cross as St. Mary Magdalene, I believed it was St. John. The figure’s halo was green, a color identified with St. John, and the dramatically dejected posture mirrors what I imagine St. John must have felt seeing his Lord crucified. “Good men (the Deacon and I) simply differ on interpretation,” I told myself—particularly since, in other windows, the Deacon has pointed out identification of some figures is not absolutely clear.
Good men might differ but for one small detail: the long, curly brown locks, used to identify St. Mary Magdalene, streaming out behind the figure at the foot of the cross.
Having missed this reminded me of my younger days. I “knew” and pointed out to others that there might be Christians within the Catholic Church, but that the Church was not Christian. God forgive me! We only know what we have been taught. I hadn’t read the Church Fathers. I hadn’t paid attention to Christ repeatedly transferring authority to the Apostles. I couldn’t remember reading Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 3:15 about the Church being “the pillar and foundation of the truth,” although I had read 1 and 2 Timothy often.
But for one “small” detail!