March 17, 2015

Photo Essay: Blessings for the Poor in Spirit

Although I consider myself a recovering Catholic, and don't care much for organized religion, I do find myself comforted by churches and cathedrals, their lighted windows and the low hum of organ music. I don't go to mass anymore, but I occasionally wander in when the place is open but empty, doors unlocked. There, I bask in the solitude, the beams of sunlight, and the shadows. I do not pray, but I gaze. I do not kneel, but I feel a sense of praise.

Photo: Our Savior Parish /

I was drawn to the USC Caruso Catholic Center and the church occupied by Our Savior Parish because I'd been hearing about it since its windows were still under construction.

This was a huge project for local art glass studio The Judson Studios, which crafted and installed 18 of the 19 stained glass windows, all but two also designed by Judson (not the rose window which hasn't been crafted or installed yet, and not the "Creation" window).

The project was huge because these windows are huge, measuring 25 feet high by 9 feet wide, totaling 2,408 square feet of hand-painted, colored glass.

They were in production for five years from 2008–2013, though most of the windows are dated 2011-2013.

This massive scale of a project is hardly ever done anymore, but Judson was up to the task, having hand-crafted architectural glass works like these since 1897.

They had a little help from modern technology, using computers to create smaller renderings for approval and then blowing up the approved designs to their full scale size.

Most of the church's windows (those that flank the sanctuary) depict the Beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew...

...eight blessings which promise that earthly suffering will be rewarded.

Can those who suffer now really take comfort that their rich, well-fed, laughing and well-respected peers will suffer later?

Why must we suffer at all?

Why must we wait for our reward?

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Catholicism is a religion that glorifies martyrs and bestows sainthood on those who have suffered most.

I guess it helps you get through the tough times, if you know things will be better in the future, in the forever future.

But why must we mourn at all? Can we not be both merciful and filled with laughter?

If we are good, why must we be punished?

Related Posts:
EVENT: The Colorful World of Historic Judson Studios - with Obscura Society LA
Photo Essay: Judson's Historic Glass Studio
Photo Essay: The Lighted Windows of La CaƱada Congregational Church
Photo Essay: This Fraternity Life

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