Sacred Heart Cathedral

From the Rector, Fourth Sunday of Lent, 3/10/2024

Reading the Cathedral, Part 7.2: The Eschatological Windows in the Loft

In the choir loft of the Cathedral, one can see a triptych of what I like to call “The Sacred Heart of Christ the King.” Whereas in the sanctuary and nave of the church Christ Jesus is seen more so in His humanity, whether in the Gospel images or in the sacraments themselves, in this giant window He is seen more so in His divinity. It is here that we see Him associated not with the beginning of time, as He through Whom all things were made (cf. Jn. 1:3), but rather with the end of all time and things, when He will come as the Just and Merciful Son of God, Who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. 

This is why He is surrounded by the peoples of the world: Christ is the King of all peoples and places, whether they be native to the Americas, Asia, Africa, or anywhere else. It is to Him that we will have to give a reckoning of our lives, and before Whom all is laid bare (cf. Heb. 4:13).

Matthew 25:31-46 naturally comes to mind with this window, and could serve as a helpful aid in your prayer with the same. In this passage, Christ returns at the end of time to separate the sheep from the goats, His disciples from those who have turned from Him. Their rewards are spelled out as glorious and gruesome, depending on their choices in this life. 

Even with these tremendous and terrifying realities before us in Scripture and in glass, we have cause for hope. First, remember the title of this pane: The Sacred Heart of Christ the King. Yes, our Lord and King has a Heart—a Heart that has been pierced and wounded for love of us! We are not before a Judge Who will not show mercy. Indeed, if we but seek to show mercy in our lives, we will be shown mercy in the end, when mercy can triumph over judgment (cf. James 2:13). 

Second, it is the Sacred Heart of Christ the King. While the Final Judgment causes consternation for some, it is for us instead a reason to hope: “A world without God is a world without hope (cf. Eph 2:12). Only God can create justice. And faith gives us the certainty that he does so. The image of the Last Judgement is not primarily an image of terror, but an image of hope; for us it may even be the decisive image of hope. Is it not also a frightening image? I would say: it is an image that evokes responsibility, an image, therefore, of that fear of which Saint Hilary spoke when he said that all our fear has its place in love. God is justice and creates justice. This is our consolation and our hope” (Pope Benedict XVI, Spe salvi, 44).

Finally, you will note that to the right of Jesus in this triptych, in the place of honor, is His Mother Mary. She is there as the righteous Queen Who seeks the good of all Her spiritual children. While Her will never contradicts that of Her Son, Her presence in this image of judgment also inspires hope in our hearts, for we see that not only does our God have a heart like us, but we also have a Mother in Heaven Who has the devoted attention of Her Son. He never refuses Her any good thing, and so we can take confidence in Her maternal intercession on our behalf. On the whole then, the choir loft windows are great inspirations to us to live for Christ, and to know that His goodness toward us is overflowing and everlasting. Even in judgment, He seeks to draw all things to Himself.

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For the season of Lent, I will be offering short, daily reflections on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To receive these in your email, please sign-up at desertfather.substack.com

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