The East Wall: The Sacramental Life of the Church

  • The windows on the east wall of the church, which is the entrance, represent the sacramental life of the Church.  There are twelve windows on this wall: eight windows in the doors and four windows in the hallways (two on each side).

    The Doors of the Church
    The doors of the Church are themselves signs or reminders of the sacramental life of the Church.  Each door is decorated with a stain glass window that depicts a specific sacrament or symbol of the Church.  There are four doors on the left and right sides of the Church.
        The first two windows on the left doors depict the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.  Baptism is represented by a shell and water droplets, while Confirmation is represented by the Holy Spirit and tongues of fire like those which rested over the disciples on Pentecost.
    The third window is one of two windows that depict the Sacrament of Holy Orders with an emphasis on the episcopacy (bishop).  This window shows the bishop’s mitre and crosier which represent the head of the local church and source of unity for the diocese. The bishop, as the successor to the Apostles, bears the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
    The fourth window depicts two keys as well as a purple stole.  This represents the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is fitting that this window stands next to the window of the bishop, because Mathew 16:18-19 connects these two Sacraments:

    And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven; and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” (Matthew 16:18)
    The windows of the doors of the right side begin with the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony which is depicted by a golden cross, a heart and two circular bands.  The interconnectedness of the two rings with the cross represent the eternal covenant formed between man, woman, and God in the Sacrament of Marriage. According to the word of Our Lord, this covenant can never be broken just as the covenant between God and all of humanity can never be severed.
    The next window is the second window representing Holy Orders. This window, however, depicts the Orders to the Diaconate and the Presbyterate (priesthood).  The Bible at the bottom represents the Deacon, the minister of the Word of God; while the Chalice and green stole symbolize the priest who through the power of the Holy Spirit, makes Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament.  The priest is the head and spiritual leader of the local parish family.

    The third and fourth windows do not represent sacraments, as such; rather they are symbols of what it means to be Catholic. The third window depicts the Holy Oils blessed at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week.  OI (oleum infirmorum) is the Oil of the Infirm, used for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick; OS (oleum sanctum) is the Oil of Catechumens, formerly known in the liturgy as the Oil of Salvation, and is used at Baptism; and SC (sancta chrisma) is the Sacred Chrism, this oil is used for holy consecrations like at the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Confirmation, but also for church buildings and altars. Through the use of these oils, we are anointed as priest, prophet, and king, and set apart as a holy people...the new Israel.
    The fourth window contains an image of a ship, which is the symbol of the Church.  As those outside of Noah's Ark were destroyed, the ship became a perfect early symbol of the Church, especially with its associations with Peter, the Fisherman. The main part of a church's interior, the place where the people worship, is called a nave, from the Latin navis meaning "ship." Our church is our safe-haven, where we are nurtured and cared for during our sojourn on Earth.

    The Hallway Windows

    These four windows, located in the hallway just to the left of the left doors, represent the sacramental life of the Church. 

    The window on the left represents the Sacraments of Initiation into the complete life of Christ: Baptism and Confirmation.  Like the windows on the doors, they are indicated by water and the Holy Spirit.  The descending dove is the Holy Spirit whose gifts are given in Confirmation to complete the rites of initiation.

    The next window represents the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  The lamp symbolizes the soul which is to be prepared for death.  As the lamp is fed by oil, so the soul is nourished by the Holy Oil of the Sacrament.  Often, restoration of health is a secondary effect of this Sacrament.  The Sacrament draws its power from the Cross of Christ shown with small crosses superimposed upon it which reference the ancient practice of anointing separate parts of the body such as the eyes, ears, and mouth.

    The third window depicts the Sacrament of Holy Orders. In this window, all three orders are present:  The Bible at the bottom represents the diaconate (deacon), the chalice in the middle represents the Presbyterate (priest) and the mitre and crosier at the top represent the episcopate (bishop), who bears the fullness of the sacrament as successor to the Apostles.

    The last window represents the Sacrament of Matrimony.  The two circles recall the covenantal union of a man and woman who gradually become one as they are drawn into Christ's sacrificial love represented by the cross.  Through their encounter with Christ, they are given the graces to make human life enduring, faithful, and fruitful.  The vine in this window represents the new life born from the union of husband and wife, which may be either or both spiritual or physical.