I have chosen and consecrated this house, says the Lord, that my name may be there forever. (2 Chron. 7:16)
Piazza and Gardens
Our landscape points to the beauty of God’s creation and the pilgrim’s journey to the House of God. Born in Bethlehem, at home in Nazareth the young Jesus was Himself a pilgrim to the Temple under St. Joseph’s protection. It was there He was about His Father’s business. Outside we are reminded of the sacred gardens of Eden, Gethsemane and the garden where the Lord’s tomb was located, all pointing us in the direction of salvation as does the location for the Easter fire at the epicenter of the piazza.
The Great Door
The sacrificial lamb’s blood smeared on the doorposts of the exiled Hebrews gave assurance of God’s protection. Behind the doors of the Upper Room Christ celebrated His Last Supper and later appeared to His disciples after His resurrection. Behind its doors the apostles gathered on Pentecost with Mary Mother of the Church.
The cornerstone, clearly visible just inside the doorway, is a reminder that the whole of the world’s salvation rested upon the shoulders of Christ alone during His last 24 hours spelled out clearly on the narthex floor. Within the context of the whole history of salvation, depicted on the copper reliefs, those who waited for baptism would follow the Lord through the dark valley of death into eternal life. From here the images of the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church begin. Time is the gift of Christ the Teacher.
Here we are first reminded of the dark waters of Genesis over which the “breath” of God moved. The memory of how Moses would lead the Israelites through the Red Sea is also rekindled. Yet it is here, by way of the waters of baptism that one is immersed into the life, death and resurrection of Christ and invited into the assembly of the faithful.
Gathered around the raised area called the “predella,” it is helpful to reflect on how Moses gathered the people at the foot of God’s holy mountain. It was there the Hebrew people prepared themselves to listen and accept God’s commandments and to be purified from their sins. When we gather here, we do so conscious of our unworthiness and with a longing to see God face to face.
The Organ and Choir
A low profile French console organ, allows sacred music to resonate throughout this church. The choir helps direct our voice, prayers and thoughts in the direction of the heavenly liturgy where the angels and saints are gathered around God’s throne praising Him night and day.
It was upon an altar that God commanded Abraham to prepare his offerings, even to place upon it his own son, Isaac. It was Jacob who anointed the sacred stone which showed him steps leading up into heaven. The rock of Calvary became the altar of sacrifice upon which Christ offered His life for us. In the Mass, His sacrificial love is re-presented to the Father allowing us to actively participate in this eternal offering. Looking upon the altar of sacrifice from four strategic points the heavenly creatures of the Book of Revelation are depicted. Within the altar a splinter from the bone of St. Benno who was martyred for his faith in 1106 has been placed. It is a reminder that Christians should never be afraid to give their life to Christ even in death.
The Cross of Christ
Upon the Holy Rood Screen (“rood” is Old English for “wood”) stands a representation of the Lord offering His life on the cross, a reminder of God’s love for us. Images of Mary and the Beloved Disciple remind us of the Lord’s dying wish that we take His mother into our home to be our mother too. A very small fragment of wood, taken from the Christ’s cross discovered secure in the Jerusalem shrine of His tomb when it was excavated over 1600 years ago, has been secured in a golden brooch near the foot of the cross.
Originally used by the early Church to secure Holy Communion to be later brought to the sick and imprisoned, it continues this purpose as well as providing us with a focus for Christ’s continual and real presence before us. The design of the tabernacle points us in adoration of the Lord as the Lamb of God who dwells within the heavenly Jerusalem while promising to remain with us.
Here we take inspiration from Christ’s most perfect disciple and receive assurance that those who approach the Lord’s Mother will be invited by her to a closer relationship with her Son.
St. Margaret of Scotland Shrine
Our patroness is the example of a Christian ruler, a faithful wife and true mother, devoted to the Gospel and renowned for building churches, caring for the poor and children orphaned by wars. She died in 1092.
The Resurrection of the Dead and Final Judgment
This scene was inspired by a 15th century work by Rogier van der Weyden for an altarpiece in a French hospice. As we are sent forth, strengthened by the sacraments, we are reminded of the brevity of our lives and how each person is given by God every opportunity to demonstrate faith, hope and love. As our choices point to how we will live our lives eternally, to cooperate with God’s grace is to look forward and be encouraged by the great heavenly company of the angels and saints with Mary, St. John the Baptist, and the apostles. Added to this scene we find holy men and women including Pope Saint John Paul II and Saints Lorenzo Ruiz, Pier Giorgio Frassati, Martin de Porres, Gianna Beretta, Marie Goretti and Blessed Mother Teresa.