The South Clerestory Windows: The Liturgy of the Mass
7. Post Consecration
This window pictures the three main thoughts that bring the Canon of the Mass to its conclusion: our prayer that our sacrifice may be acceptable; that all creation may participate in the benefits of the sacrifice; and finally, that this acceptance-participation may be effected through, with, and in Christ.
Beginning at the top of the window, the first theme treats of the Old Testament sacrifices that prefigured Christ’s sacrifice. The shepherd’s staff represents the sacrifice of Abel; the stones that surround the staff indicate the manner of Abel’s death at the hands of his brother, Cain. The burning pyre, the logs of which were carried up the mountain of sacrifice by Isaac, the intended victim, suggests Abraham’s offering. The chalice and loaf remind us that Melchisedech was the first to offer a sacrifice of bread and wine. The acceptance of these gifts assures us that Christ’s sacrifice will be infinitely more acceptable.
The second theme is the hopeful participation of all of God’s creation in the benefits of Christ’s actions. First, we include the faithful departed, who, because they bear the sign of faith through baptism, are represented by the cross and by the shell and hint of baptismal water at its base. The olive branch and crown, together with the vial of holy oils, suggest our prayer that our departed ones might be granted a place of peace and refreshment. Implicit in our intentions is the wish that even the cosmos, pictured by the two ears of corn, will participate in the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice.
Concluding this theme is the hope that we sinners might also share heaven with the saints. The thistle represents us, the sinners; the palm branch symbolizes those who already possess heaven, the saints.
The theme in the lower portion of the window brings the Canon of the Mass to a fitting conclusion. Christ has joined us to his sacrifice, and the doxology reminds us that it is only “per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso” (through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ), in the unity of the Holy Spirit, that our actions have any merit and are able to give glory to God. Our actions are seen here as burning incense ascending to the Triune God, expressed by the triangle.