Saint Luke Church

     Westport, Connecticut

    A Virtual Tour of our Church

 

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Through the generosity of parishioners and friends, the original Saint Luke Chapel was transformed into a permanent Church, rededicated to worship on November 4, 1979.  It is a Church, a gathering together of those who live and pray here, under the patronage of Saint Luke.  Known to have been a physician, his life provides the focus of various designs in this church building as it does for his Gospel and his Acts of the Apostles.  This particular focus is healing.

"But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins.  Upon him was the chastisement that brings us peace; by his wounds, we were healed."   (Isaiah 53:5)

This building, which in the early church would have been called "the house of the church," expresses in visual form what we believe about ourselves as Godís people.  Thus we are drawn up closely around the ambo (i.e. pulpit) and the altar where the priest leads us in listening to the word of God and then in offering the body and blood of his only Son.  In the backdrop to this communal prayer-in-action which makes us the living Body of Christ, we can see a visual representation of what takes place within us.  From the Lamb of God, the slain and risen Christ on the cross, flows the vital force of our spiritual lives.  It is the blood of Christís wounds that heals us and brings us peace.  It is the blood of the Lamb that establishes Godís covenant with us, his people.

As we look at the altar and gather around it, we see our own reflection in this flow of Christís glorious blood.  Saint John Chrysostom describes this scene to his catechumens in a reading taken from the Churchís official prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, for Good Friday: "If we wish to understand the power of Christís blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Masterís side.... ĎThere flowed from his side water and blood.í  Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you."

Many are the ways that Christ is present to us in the Liturgy. The Second Vatican Council in its Constitution on the Liturgy makes clear that Jesus comes to us in four ways in the course of the Mass: in the assembly of the baptized, in the word of scripture, at the altar in the Blessed Sacrament and in the priest. The interior design of our church echoes this theme.  The only elements white in color are the Lamb and the figures of Christ in stained glass, the altar (and the pedestal of the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved), ambo, baptismal font and the priestís chair (which is currently not in use).  Similarly, the flowing blood design continues from the Lamb and through the altar, the ambo, the baptismal font and the tabernacle pedestal.  Altar

As the sacred place from which the word of God flows to enlighten us and strengthen us, the ambo (pulpit) clearly incorporates the image of life flowing from the Lamb.  As a symbol of Christ, the altar has traditionally been marked by four crosses carved into it to represent Christís wounds.  So here, cut into the altar are four wooden crosses taken from the original altar of the Saint Luke Chapel.  It is from here that Christ comes to heal us who bear the crosses of our own lives.

Saint John Chrysostom also"... said that water and blood symbolized baptism and the holy eucharist.  From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism Ö and from the holy eucharist.  Since the symbols of baptism and the eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the ChurchÖ" This theology is eloquently expressed in line and color as the flow of blood from the Lamb of God continues in the decoration of the baptismal font.

To deepen further our reflection on Christís power to heal our wounds, we have a tangible meditation placed within our grasp.  While the Eucharist itself unites our wounds with Christ, another expression of this belief lies in the unique "healing crosses" of Saint Luke.  These small wooden crosses., similar in design to Christís wounds on the altar, are found under the five stained glass windows which portray Christís healing.  You are invited to take one of these crosses Ė perhaps even to hold it while you pray during Mass Ė and then place it beneath the sign of the healing which you have sought or for which you are grateful.  The open wooden panels under each window are in a way analogous to the crosses carved into the altar.  Like the Apostle Thomas, we place our hands into the very wounds, and thus we are healed.

The Windows of Healing

Jesus Heals All 
Luke 4:40-41

"At sunset, all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to Jesus and laying his hand on each he cured them.  Devils too came out of many people, howling, ĎYou are the Son of God.í But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that He was the ĎChristí."

In the first of the healing windows, we see the flow of Christís healing and glorious blood winding through each of the figures.  His hand upon the sick man, Christ is "haloed" by the sunset mentioned in this text.  Two of these themes Ė the flowing and the healing blood Ė and the halo, continue in each of the remaining side windows.  The sick man is colored in a weak yellow-green in contrast to the strong blues and reds surrounding Christ, who like the Lamb of the altar window is shown in white and blue-gray glass.  In the lower corner, the rebuked evil spirits are seen departing in the traditional symbol of a snake, whose blue-green coloring clashes with the surrounding red, as violently as the devilís presence clashes with that of Christ.

 

Peterís Mother-in-law    
ó Healing in our Family Relationships   
Luke 4:38-40    

"Leaving the synagogue, he went to Simonís house. Now Simonís mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. Leaning over her he rebuked the fever and it left her. And she immediately got up and began to wait on them."

In this window we see Peter and his wife peering out in awe and wonder from awe behind Christ as the elderly woman gets up from her sick bed. Here the flow of healing blood winds in such a way as to bend all the figures toward its path. So, in the situations of our lives are we moved toward the will of God. For us, this window speaks to the healing of family life and the important yet often trying relationships in families.

Martha and Mary
ó Healing for our Daily Concerns

Luke 10:38-42

"In the course of their journey, he came to a village and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lordís feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha, who was distracted with all the serving said, ĎLord, do you do not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Tell her to help me.í But the Lord answered, ĎMartha, Martha, you worry and fret about many things, and yet few are needed, indeed, only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.í"

This window represents Christís healing as it comes to a person through prayer and silent listening. Mary rests her head at the feet of Christ. In doing so, she chooses what in some ways is more difficult than the monotonous chores of everyday life. She is swept up into the flow of Christís life while her sister, Martha, seems only partially touched by the rhythm and movement of Godís healing spirit flowing through him.

The difficulty of decision-making, the acceptance of hard things, guidance with obligations of work; all of these are the concerns healed by Christ in the symbolism of this window.

 

The Conversion of Saint Paul    
ó Healing of all that Blinds us to God's Truth   

Acts of the Apostles 9:1-19   

"Suddenly while (Saul) was traveling to Damascus, and just before he reached the city, there came a light from heaven all around him. He fell to the ground and then heard a voice saying, ĎSaul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?í ĎWho are you, Lord?í he asked, and the voice answered, ĎI am Jesus and you are persecuting me. Get up now and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.í"

Healing flows from Christ in myriad ways. Unlike the soothing rhythm of the previous scenes, the flowing blood of Christ in this window thrusts Paul suddenly to the ground. He lies fallen and helpless before the blinding light of Godís truth. To discover that Godís ways are not our own can often come as a shock. Here one may think about the many conversions to be experienced in our journey to God. For Paul, the chains of blindness are broken. He is made free. And so it is for the Christian. Through continued conversion to Christ, each one is made free.

 

The Cure from Peterís Shadow
ó Healing for our Unknown Needs
Acts of the Apostles, 5:15

"So many signs and wonders were worked among the people at the hands of the apostles that the sick were even taken out into the streets and laid on beds and sleeping mats in the hope that at least the shadow of Peter might fall across some of them as he went past.  People even came crowding in from towns round about Jerusalem bringing with them their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were cured."

After his death, resurrection and ascension, Christ gives over his power to Peter and the Church.  For further emphasis the circular halo is absent from this window.  Peter and the key of his authority form and guide the Church now as in the beginning.  We see that, unbeknownst to himself, even his shadow is the cause of healing.  Symbolized here are all the shadows of our life experiences.  As it was Christís will that his Church should heal these shadows, so Peter, representing the church as an instrument of healing, leads us to be healed even in his shadow.

 

Saint Luke Window   

On leaving the Church of Saint Luke, our patron invites all to live Christís life. He gestures to his writings which are addressed to one "Theophilus," a name meaning "God-lover." In this way he speaks to each of us: "Dear Lover of God..." and invites us to follow a path filled with Christís healing grace.  It is the life of the Church and all its members, a life which begins to flow from the side of Christ, the Lamb of God.  It is Godís living love flowing through our individual lives, returning back to himself in reverent faith and loving service, accomplishing here and now the healing he gave us once and all through his passion, death and resurrection.

The Church of Saint Luke contains several other liturgical appointments:

The stations depicting the Way of the Cross are positioned along the inside wall so as to form a journey.  They give a visual representation to the words of Isaiah, the Prophet: "By his wounds, we are healed..." and further serve to underscore the healing theme within the Church.

Beneath the first station can be found the Chapel of Reconciliation, a room set apart for the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the Lord Jesus.

On the front wall, the statues of Joseph and Mary are brought together from the original chapel.  Stained glass in contemporary design and coloring highlight each side of the sanctuary.

Finally, one may see that the side doors are enhanced with leaded glass.  The central doors faced by two large thematic windows at the foot of the newly constructed gallery have been refinished in designs similar to the healing crosses beneath the side windows.