Photo: 2008© dimitre.com
Towering Monstrance Unveiled
By Dan Valenti and Susan Knickrehm
Before an overflow crowd of nearly 2,000 people, a towering monstrance that will be the centerpiece of the new Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy was unveiled Saturday, May 31, at St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in Chicago, Ill.
The stirring ceremony featured a dedication Mass and a homily by Cardinal Francis George, Archibishop of Chicago. Both the secular and religious media, including PBS and EWTN, covered the unveiling.
Father Anthony Bus, CR, pastor of St. Stanislaus, began the Mass with remarks in which he contrasted the "noise of the world" with the spiritual silence that is to be found with Jesus and Mary. He pastorally asked those in attendance: "Which noise will you listen to? The noise of the world or the 'noise' of Our Lady?" The words dripped with irony — inside the packed church, the noise of the world could not be heard, only the utter silence that carried its pure "sound" straight to the heart.
The Power of Mary
The monstrance, carved from linden wood by sculptor Stefan Niedorezo using techniques developed by masters in the Renaissance, stands nine feet tall and weighs 700 pounds. Malgorzata Saawczuk serves as project coordinator. She also applied the gilding that adorns the work.
In his homily, Cardinal George spoke of the power of Mary. That was fitting, considering the role the Blessed Mother has played in events surrounding the monstrance and the planned shrine. Nine years ago, Fr. Bus says he had a vision in which Mary asked that he build the new sanctuary. His book, A Mother's Plea: Lifting the Veil in Sanctuary (Marian Press), details that experience. Originally published in 2005, the book has been reissued with updates on the project.
"The Mass was truly breathtaking," said one attendee. "People were focused and open," she said. "You could see how they were preparing their hearts to receive the Body of Christ. ... The most moving part was when the Eucharist was placed in the monstrance, which transformed the sculpture from a piece of artwork into the tabernacle of the living God."
The Eucharist placed in the monstrance was about 10 inches in diameter.
Joy and Bounty Flow through the People
People spoke of a great sense of joy and bounty flowing through the crowd, despite the sweltering conditions inside the church. After Mass, many remained in Adoration. Some got out of their pews to walk close to the altar so they could get a better view of the monstrance, while others were prostrate on the ground, kneeling on the floor, or just standing in awe before the Eucharist. Many walked out of the church with tears in their eyes.
Many families attended despite temperatures in the 90s. The ceremonies began at 6 p.m. eastern time. Long after Mass, people lingered. In fact, at 11 p.m., the church was still packed. People crowded near the front entrance to St. Stanislaus Church, talking about their personal experiences they had in the unveiling, Mass, and Adoration.
"It was almost as if you were away from the world," shared one pilgrim, "and Noble Drive [the location of the church in Chicago] had become a piece of heaven on earth. You could see the happiness glowing in their eyes! Father Anthony proves that when one person says 'yes' to the will of God, they can truly change the world."
Dan Valenti writes for numerous publications of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, both in print and online. He is the author of "Dan Valenti's Journal" on thedivinemercy.org. Susan Knickrehm is communications coordinator for the monstrance unveiling.