Welcome, Father Francisco!

08-16-2020Pastor's LetterFather Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This weekend, we give a very warm welcome to our new parochial vicar, Fr. Francisco Oñate-Vargas. In answer to a popular question, Father says that he prefers to be called “Father Francisco.” Over the next couple of weeks, Father will be rotating through the Masses. Although current safety precautions keep us from giving our warmest welcome, I know the great people of St. Mary’s will find a way to make Fr. Francisco feel our joy to have him here with us in Aiken!

While you were out… Our stained glass windows continue to arrive even in the midst of the pandemic. Although the church is not open as usual during the day (so that the church remains sanitized for Masses), I hope you will be able to come around Mass times to enjoy our three newest windows: The Crucifixion, The Resurrection, and The Ascension Into Heaven. (Many thanks go especially to our remarkably generous donor!)

The Crucifixion window features Our Lord at the moment of His death with a dramatically portrayed eclipse of the sun. (St. Luke in particular mentions the darkness was caused by an eclipse of the sun – 23:44-45.) Above Jesus is the sentence against Him, “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum” – “This is the King of the Jews.” We see the saving Blood pouring forth from the five sacred wounds. Below Jesus at the base of the Cross is the symbolic skull of Adam. The New Adam bathes the First Adam in His saving, sacrificial Blood, thereby forgiving and reversing his disobedience. God’s saving action went all the way to the root of our Fall from grace. Keeping vigil at the Cross, we find Our Lord’s mother, St. John the Beloved, and St. Mary Magdalene (in the foreground). The Scripture passage recalls Jesus’ words to St. John and to all Beloved Disciples, “Behold your Mother” (John 19:27).

The Resurrection window captures the moment of Jesus’ rising in glory from the tomb. Note that He still bears His sacred wounds, signs of His ultimate love for His bride, the Church. The Roman soldiers, the greatest world power at the time, symbolize the powers of this world being overcome by Jesus’ complete and total victory over death. Angels announce the Resurrection while clothed in the vestments of a Deacon – the dalmatic – since the Deacon’s role at Mass is to proclaim the Gospel. One Angel bears a lantern symbolizing Christ, the Light of the World. The Angel also holds a sprig of yellow jasmine, the state flower of South Carolina, symbolizing the significance of the Resurrection reaches beyond all time and space to our own time and place today.

Finally, The Ascension window features Our Lord, still bearing His wounds of love, ascending to heaven to join our now glorified human flesh to the Godhead, while our Blessed Mother and the Apostles look on. Humanity is now inextricably bound to Divinity. This window is particularly glorious when the western sun shines through it, equally illuminating the first window – the Annunciation – at the same time, thus joining the entire mystery of the Incarnation into one great event.

Father Wilson