Stained Glass Windows
The New Covenant
As we move to the transcept, the bay of seven windows depicts the highlights of the New Covenant. The first window recalls the Last Supper (the bread, wind, cup) which points ahead to the death of Christ. The crucifixion and death of Christ is depicted in the second window with the three empty crosses and the form of the Pieta, which is one of the few figure-like forms in all the windows. The Pieta is shown in very plain glass to emphasize the complete desolation which occurred when Jesus died and was buried. The next tree windows have the brightest color of all to
highlight the joy of the resurrection (the large Chi Rho in red surrounded by bright golden colors). The four evangelists who proclaimed and recorded the resurrection are also symbolized in these windows. The sixth window in this series symbolizes the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames which reach out in all directions, and extend into the final window. The final window highlights the open bible with the words of Jesus. “I am the Light of the World.” The large staff reminds us that Jesus came as the Good Shepherd who was willing to lay down His life for us.
Covenant between God and the Israelites
We continue to the transept to explain the bay of seven windows which highlight the Covenant which God made with the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
The first of these windows relates the call of Moses when God spoke to him from a burning bush and told him to go and set His People free from slavery in Egypt. Below the burning bush are the sandals which God asked Moses to remove because he was standing on sacred ground. At the bottom of this window is a symbol of the Israelites being held slaves in Egypt during the reign of Rameses II, the Pharaoh of Egypt.
The next window reflects the plagues which God inflicted upon the Egyptians in order to obtain the freedom of the Israelites.
Among the ten plagues which are recalled in this window are: the water turned into blood, the frogs, the gnats, the flies, the pestilence inflicted upon the animals, the boils (the red spots), the locusts, and finally the cloud-like shape (symbol of God’s presence) coming through the land of Egypt and killing the first-born in all the homes of those who had not partaken of the Paschal Lamb and who had not sprinkled the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. Thus the lamb has become a symbol of freedom and liberation.
The next three windows depict the giving of the Commandments to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The golden glass forms the image of a mountain. The two angels are frequently associated with the Ark of the Covenant in which the tablets of the Commandments were preserved.
The final window on this side of the Church shows the second coming of Christ at the end of the world as foretold by St. John in the Book of Revelation. We see Jesus portrayed as the Lamb of God with a crown (sign of victory) as the one who opens the scroll with seven seals, symbolic of God’s victory over evil at the end of the world (Ch. 5).
Community of Faith
The next window has as its theme the fourth great work of the Church, to form a community of faith. This window localizes the Church to the State of Michigan, the city of Burton and to Holy Redeemer Parish. At the top of the center panel we see an image of St. Isaac Joques, a French missionary who taught the Chippewa Indians near Sault Sainte Marie in 1642. He baptized many of the Indians. One of them Charles Raymbant, is represented on this window. On the left side of this window is the image of Bishop Baraga who traveled through the Upper Peninsula and part of the Lower Peninsula. He traveled by canoe and by snowshoes. These early missionaries were among the first to bring the Catholic Faith to Michigan.
Our own community of Holy Redeemer Parish was started by Bishop Albers in 1940. We also see his coat of arms. We also see the large Chi Rho (cross shape) with four different hands touching the cross to remind us that a Christian community is formed by bringing people of various races and backgrounds together and uniting them around Christ. We also see a replica of our present Church building where we meet together and form community. At the left side we see a priest visiting a depressed home and offering the family a basket of food. This reminds us that every Christian community must also include the poor.
“Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them…and know that I am with you always.”
Primary Works of the Church
The next four new windows on the west side depict the four primary works of the Church from the time of Pentecost (where the windows in the center of the Church stopped) to the second coming of Christ at the end of the world. The first of these sets of windows highlights the work of Worship centering around the sacraments which are personal encounters with Christ. All of the sacraments are channels through which we share divine life. This sharing of divine life is made possible through the death and resurrection of Christ, which is symbolized by the large cross. The letters ICXC and NIKA stand for Jesus Christ, Victor. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and death for us, and through the sacraments we share in his victory. Since the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist are symbolized in other windows (closer to the front of the Church), this window contains symbols of the remaining four sacraments. In the center panel we see the symbol of Holy Orders (the Bishop ordaining a priest). The role of the bishop and of the Pope is symbolized by the mitre and keys (symbols of authority). The ordination and role of the Deacon is also seen by the Bible and stole on the left side of the window. The Sacrament of Matrimony is symbolized by the interwoven circles. The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation is seen by the hand of a priest extended over the head of a person. The small container and cross above this image represents the container of sacred oils.
The Judges were the rulers of Israel after the time of Moses. At the top is a breast-plate of twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel who were led into the Promised Land by Joshua.
The large horn and the falling rocks represent Joshua’s conquest of Jericho (Joshua Ch. 6). We also see the two columns of the temple with the seven cords which remind us of Samson’s destruction of the temple (Judges Ch 16).
We also see the jawbone of an ass with which Samson killed a thousand Philistines (Judges Ch. 15). Near the bottom of the center window, we see the fleece coat of Gideon and the water jar which played an important part in his battle at the camp of Midian (Judges Ch. 6 and 7).
We also see the dew which did not touch the fleece coat. This was a sign that God was directing Gideon to go to battle.
The third window in this series highlights two of the great Kings of the Hebrews: David and Solomon. The harp, the shepherd’s staff, the stones and sling are all associated with King David. The harp refers to many of the psalms which are attributed to King David. We also see the scale of justice symbolizing King Solomon who was known for his great wisdom and the just treatment he gave to all people. A classic example of his wisdom is the story of two women who claimed the same child as their son. Solomon then ordered the child to be cut in half. The real mother would not allow this. She would rather give her son to the other woman. (1 Kings 3).
Prophecy of Malachi
The last window in this series refers to the final prophecy of Malachi who spoke about preparing the way for the Lord (Malachi Ch. 3). He spoke about the Messiah as the Sun of Justice with its healing rays. We also see the crown of David from which springs the lily, a symbol of the Virgin Mary. We also see the scroll used by Anna and Simeon who taught Mary in the temple. The hand of a Rabbi raised in benediction suggests the inverted heart which is a prophetic vision of Mary’s future sorrows.
Proclaiming the Word of God
The general theme of the next window is the important work of the Church in education and proclaiming the Word of God. We want to emphasize that the teaching mission of the Church is carried out in various forms and in various subjects. At the very top of the center panel is the “triquetra” a symbol of the Holy Trinity, the source of all life and knowledge. We then see an image of a family (parents and two children) which is the primary place for all education and particularly for the teaching of our faith. This image shows the parents playing with the children which symbolizes that children first learn love in the home. We also see other sources of learning and or proclaiming the Word of God: the Gregorian Chant is a form of proclamation of God’s Word. In the perimeter we see symbols of physics relation to wave lengths, frequency and alternating cycles of voltage. We also see the biological symbols of man and woman. On the left of the perimeter are atomic symbols of mass and energy. All of these symbols remind us that the sciences and religion complement each other as sources of education and learning. Near the bottom of the center panel we see an image of more formal religious education symbolized by a teacher (religious and laity) in a classroom teaching children and adults. Finally, at the bottom is a representation of the coat of arms of the Sisters of the Holy Cross who have taught here and proclaimed the Word of God in this parish and school since 1946.
The next window depicts the four great Prophets who are considered as a prototype of the four Evangelists. Isaiah is symbolized at the top in the form of the scroll and vision of the lamb lying with the lion which symbolizes reconciliation to be brought about by the Messiah. Jeremiah is symbolized by the word “Lord” since he taught the people about the coming of the New Covenant (Jeremiah Ch. 31) in which “all, from the least to the greatest” will know the Lord. We also see the chains of ignorance and bondage being broken from a hand symbolizing the freedom and Good News which the Messiah will bring to His people. Ezekiel is symbolized by the vision of the New Jerusalem, with the gate still closed and with the holocaust of the Lord already within (Ezekiel Ch. 44). This symbolizes that the Lord has already entered the temple permanently, never to depart. The prophet Daniel is symbolized as the one who interpreted the dreams of King Belshazzar. At a banquet one evening the King saw a hand writing on the wall. These words appeared: Mene, Tekel, Peres. Daniel interpreted these words form him as meaning: Mene = God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. Tekel = you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres = your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians (Daniel Ch. 5). “All things the Lord has made. Bless the Lord, Give glory and eternal praise to Him.” Daniel 3:57
Women of the Hebrew Covenant
The next window calls attention to some of the better known women in the Hebrew Scriptures. At the top we see Ruth as she gathers the gleaned grains of wheat (Ruth Ch. 2). Behind Ruth and to her left is her mother-in-law, Naomi, in the tent. Although Ruth was not a Jewish woman, she made a beautiful pledge of loyalty to remain with Naomi who was a widow. We also see forms which depict wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. These were the seven fruits which the Jews carried through the streets during their harvest festival (“Shavout”) which they gave to the poor and needy. During the harvest festival the Hebrew people also reflected on the giving of the Ten Commandments. The Hebrew letters within the perimeter of the border are a reminder of the Commandments. The Book of Ruth was also read during the harvest festival. Below and slightly to the left of center we see the nine-branch candelabra (Menorah) which is used during the celebration of Hannukah, the Festival of Lights (celebrated in December).
During this Festival, the story of Judith is read. The wall and the head of a man remind us of how Judith plotted against Holofernes and finally beheaded him. Under Ruth we see the image of a runner with a torch. Modin to Tel Aviv, the Hebrews were reminded of the victory of the Maccabees.
At the bottom of the center window we see the scroll of Esther which was read during the Feast of Purim. In the Book of Esther we read about her victory over Haman, and how she saved the life of her adopted father Mordecai. The name of Haman is written on the sole of a foot to symbolize the disgust that people felt for him. In some countries his name was rubbed into the floor when this story was read. The whip-like object behind the name of Haman is called a “gragger” or bull-roarer. It is a simple rod with a string attached and at the end of the string is a thin board. When twirled, this instrument creates a strange roar or noise. It was used when the Book of Esther was read as a way of showing contempt for Haman.
Works of Charity
The next window highlights the Works of Charity which are an important part of Church life. The large host at the top of the center panel reminds us that all of our works of charity flow from the Holy Eucharist and our participation in Holy Communion (the Body of Christ). The celebration of the Eucharist challenges all of us to work for justice (this word is seen flowing from the Host). The word “justice” is seen breaking through the bar and shackles, symbolizing our efforts to set captives free. Feeding the hungry is symbolized by an image of Frederick Ozanam, founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He is seen distributing bread to the poor and needy.
Harboring the homeless is symbolized by an image of St. Vincent de Paul who is holding a small child in his arms and blessing a woman. This image also represents the work of clothing the naked. Giving drink to the thirsty is symbolized by the water coming from a vase. Instructing the ignorant is symbolized by the hand and the Bible. Praying for the living and the dead is symbolized by the praying hands and the image of a widow in grief. The spade and two tombstones symbolize the work of burying the dead.
“Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers
that you do unto me.” Matthew 25:40