Sunday, February 28, 2010

Prodigal window

In some churches, the windows are thematic. Some recount the major feasts of the Church, or the events of Christ's life. Some are marian. Some are national saints. Some are of the apostles. Some are the parables illustrated. Some are Old Testament scenes. At Saint Lawrence (Cleveland) they are those donors intended, and the donors are identified.

Some are a group donation and have a subject the group identifies with: the Young Ladies Sodality dedicate a marian window (Assumption) to their mothers; the school children of 1940 remember their teachers with a window of children coming to Jesus.

Some have the patron saint of a donor or donor's relative as subject: the sons of John and Frances Perko dedicate a window of their mother's patronal saint in honor of their parents; the children of Anton and Gertrude Strainer remember their parents with a window of the Holy Family.

And, certainly, some have a personal and emotional resonance for the donor's dedication. Jesus told many parables. Some are well known beyond christian devotion. Of course, some are better known than others. Some people may only be able to think of one or two. The one about the prodigal son (and the forgiving father) is probably the first or second that would come to mind. Fr. Henri Nouwen †1996, was so enthralled with one depiction, that he wrote a book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, about Rembrandt's painting, and it is often used in christian book studies. There are churches in the local diocese (St. Mel [on the confessional], St.Ignatius of Antioch) that have a reproduction of that Rembrandt. Another version with a young child, being embraced by his loving father, is on a window at Saint Lawrence. The father looks, very much, like a portrait of Jesus. A wondrous and beautiful thing about illustrated stain glass windows is, that, they need no script to tell you a story, and sometimes a very, important story.
The top portion of the window has a rondel of five loaves of bread. This is of a different christian theme. Five loaves of bread were multiplied by Jesus to feed all. This is a precursor of the Eucharist. Again, no script needed.
The script shows on the bottom. It is not illustrating or decorating, but it is telling something. The donor's block reads in translation: In remembrance of John and Tereza Ferfolia erected by their children. Now, canon law repeatedly uses the phrase, "the intention of the founders and donors as well as acquired rights must be respected."[Can. 121, 122, 123]. If one were a constitutionalist, and in this country, and in the last decade at least, they have not prevailed. It is quite clear, that, families such as mentioned above, would have something to say about the disposition of that window. They are not the only such donors whose consent would be necessary over items and property.

The current ordinary of Cleveland (Richard Lennon) acts as if he were not bound by such canon law restrictions. He also sees himself as a self trained canonist. He is an autocrat, or as Dick "Darth" Cheney would say the 'unitary executive'. This is also the american response in the business world. The hatred of regulation. The hatred of negotiating with labor or the masses. The calls for 'necessary flexibility' that merely mask heavy handed, and capricious use of unrestricted power.

As a leader he, Lennon, acts as a corporate tyrant, an unrestrained 'free-market entrepreneur', an unbound capitalist; a combination plutocrat and autocrat―unaccountable to any man. This may be american business practice, and the Republican party's manner of governance but it is neither catholic, nor Christ-like.

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