My connection to St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church in Augusta goes back many years, starting when Stephanie and I had our wedding there a few decades back, having received permission from my then pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish, Fr. Andrew Doris. In those days, you had to get written permission from the pastor to get married in (or transfer to) another parish.
Through the years, each of our children received the sacraments at St. Mary’s, attended the parish school, and we developed lasting relationships with pastors and parishioners. One of our grandsons received his First Communion at St. Mary’s this past May, and I attend morning Mass at St. Mary’s whenever I can.
I guess I never really noticed the stained-glass window above and behind the sculpted wood baldachino, or elaborate altar canopy at St. Mary’s. I heard last week that the window had been moved there during a major renovation some years ago.
When illuminated by sunlight, the large window, with its various panels, depicts the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Each of the gifts is connected to a specific person or figure, all seven prominent in church history, and I have been pondering on the significance of the selections made for each gift.
Here are the designations, starting with the Blessed Virgin Mary under “Wisdom”, St. Augustine of Hippo to “Understanding”, “Counsel” to St. Catherine of Siena, St. Joseph with “Fortitude”, St. Thomas Aquinas with “Knowledge”, St. Charles Borromeo to “Piety”, and the prophet Moses to “Fear of the Lord”.
Before I forget – at the very top of the window, there’s the Holy Spirit, in the form of a large dove, with power radiating down to all. So, let’s start with the Our Lady and “Wisdom”, which is depicted with the Wedding Feast at Cana.
As the mother of the Son of Man, Mary experienced so many joys as she watched her Son grow up, and later joys and heartaches as Jesus began His ministry in earnest. Mary grew in knowledge and understanding of what would lie ahead for Jesus, thanks to the Holy Spirit, and had the good judgment to use a wedding feast to ask her Son to perform His first miracle. Mary was wise enough to know that Jesus would accept her request without fail, even instructing the wine steward to “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2: 5).
Her sense of timing sprung from observing and listening to her Son, and perhaps knowing that the healing ministry of Jesus was put in motion by her actions. Wisdom gave Mary the confidence to be bold, and perhaps the good sense to know all would be fine, albeit most challenging, as a result of her actions. That’s what wisdom is all about, as the first gift of the Holy Spirit. One of the devotional titles ascribed to the Blessed Virgin is “Mary, Seat of Wisdom”.
Next week, a review of “Understanding”, with some insights from the life of St. Augustine.
Have a Blessed Day!