Stained Glass Windows

Christmas Choir and Candles

Imagine you are inside a huge cathedral, and there are stain-glass windows on every wall. The sun is shining outside, and its rays are transformed into hundreds of colors and patterns by the windows. Then, imagine that suddenly the sun disappears and you are sitting alone inside the cathedral. Stain glass windows now look like nothing more than dull wall hangings on the wall.

Stain-glass windows enhance the beauty of the sun, and, yet, without the sun stain glass windows lose all their appeal.

Today the Church takes us into a beautiful cathedral—let’s call it “All Saints Cathedral.” There are more glass windows than we can count and none of them is the same. Every brilliant color known to humans can be found somewhere in the windows of our imaginary cathedral! As the ever-present sun pours its rays against the windows, they sparkly with heavenly colors. We are caught up in the beauty of God and the magnificence of His risen Son.

What if we decided to leave the cathedral and walk out into the pure sunlight? That would be wonderful too! Yet the variety of color and patterns are no longer there. And being too brilliant for our eyes, the sun does not let us look directly into its “face.” At that moment we appreciate the windows for modifying the sun so we can look at it and appreciate it better.

Our “All Saints Cathedral” is real. We celebrate the feast of All Saints today. Not having enough calendar days to fit in all the saints and knowing that 99% of all saints live and die without ever being known, the Church pulls these millions of holy ones together and converts them into the stain glass windows of a great cathedral. These are people who were lovers of Jesus Christ and spent their lives serving him faithfully. Each in her or his own way allowed the brilliance of his glory to shine through them.

Some people object to honoring the saints. They argue that the saints distract us from the unique attention Jesus deserves. Let’s think about it for a minute. Does a beautiful stain glass window turn us away for the sun or attract us to it? Doesn’t the window help us see the infinite variety and glory that is inside the sun waiting to be displayed? Each lover of Jesus is a unique manifestation of his presence in the world. Jesus shines forth on the earth in a new way every time another person gives her or his life over to him. Remember when Mary said, “my soul magnifies the Lord?” Saints do not block God; they are multi-colored glasses that magnify him and help others to better see him.

Then, of course, back to our opening remarks. Every piece of stain glass will humbly admit that without the sun, it is worthless—even invisible. It is the sun, not the glass, that is the source of glory.
Today let us engage in the luxury of meeting some of those “stain glass windows” that cover the wall of the Church. Let’s allow ourselves to be surprised as one of them touches us on the shoulders and smiles at us. Let’s allow those saints that we knew in life, members of our own churches and families, bring a ray of God’s love to us in a way we’ve never experienced before. This is a special day to sit back and enjoy the multi-colored glory of God. Let’s drink it all in!

“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9)

“Such is the race that seeks him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob” (Ps 24:6).

About the Author

Author Bob Garvey lives in Louisville, Kentucky. He has a master’s degree in religious education and has been an active leader in the Catholic charismatic renewal for forty years. After retiring as a high school teacher, he began to write daily commentaries on the Church’s liturgical readings and other topics relevant to Catholic spirituality. He is married to Linda, has three daughters and four grandchildren.

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  1. I must admit I am one of those who never gave the saints much importance, but your reflection has opened my eyes. The saints lived holy lives dedicated to loving and serving our Lord. Much respect to them, for they only bring out the glory of God in all its magnificence.
    Nice reflection !

  2. Bob,

    What a beautiful reflection! Thank you for helping me rediscover the beauty of Saints! Your reflection has brightened my day.
    Thank you so much and God Bless

  3. this is a nice reflection.
    simple but transcendental to the spirit.
    thanks to you Bob Garvey and may God bless you.

  4. Many of these saints are unsung heroes of our faith. The lives they lived truly reflect God’s glory. Generally, I would take my prayer book, pray these novenas as I lift up my intentions to God through their intercessions. Thank you, Joe for the wonderful reflection. You have allowed me to see these saints in a different light.

  5. Bob, thank you for this beautiful reflection. The analogy of the sun and stained glass windows provided me with a vivid picture of the numerous men and women of faith who through their exemplary lives of charity and witness continue to serve as models for us. It truly gave me something to think about.

  6. What a beautiful way to explain the Saints. It will also make me look with more appreciation at the marvelous stained glass in our church.

  7. Your analogy is exquisite, and I will be so happily using it with my students today! Thank you and God bless you for your thoughtful and always helpful sharing!

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