It Feels Like Christmas

Snow is on the ground and there is a bit more forecast for the next day and a half.  It’s not the snow that makes it feel like Christmas, though.  It’s the excitement in the air over the fact that on Tuesday, February 11th, we will ordain the Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Gary, Msgr. Robert McClory.

We have been without a bishop since the end of June 2019.  In “Church time”, that was not a significantly long wait at all.  There have been dioceses in the past, one just last year, that waited over two years for the appointment of a bishop.

One of the items associated with a bishop is his coat of arms.  I was on Facebook today and saw this on the parish site of St. Ambrose.  I thought I would share this with you this evening.  Maybe it will help to amp up your excitement as well.

Jesum Dominum Praedicamus
The Episcopal Coat of Arms of
The Most Reverend Robert John McClory,
The Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Gary, Indiana

While the Catholic Church speaks and is heard in many languages, the language the Church speaks the best is that of signs and symbols. Developed in the 13th century for jousting, the art of heraldry used colors and images as an easy way of identifying one helmeted knight from another. The military language of heraldry was eventually adopted by the Church as a way of non-verbally communicating the identity of the local bishop and the place where he serves. It thus came into practice that a bishop and a diocese or archdiocese would have its own coat of arms.
In the medieval manner of indicating marriages between households, a bishop’s personal coat of arms would be joined – or “wedded” to that of the diocese in which he serves. It is a sign of the close, loving relationship the bishop and the people of his diocese need to show toward one another. Thus the medieval art and language of Heraldry is practiced today as a way of expressing the story of the local Catholic Church and the identity of its leader.
The coat of arms of the Diocese of Gary was created in 1956 at the direction of the Most Rev. Andrew Grutka, its first bishop. Honoring the steel industry, which dominated the area, there are seven alternating black and silver (white) bars or ingots. The number seven was chosen to indicate the seven sacraments through which the Church offers grace.
Upon this background are two gold (yellow) angel wings to honor the titular patrons of the Cathedral – the Holy Angels. Dating back to 1906, Holy Angels Parish was the first Catholic Church founded in the city of Gary. The cornerstone for the current structure was laid in 1950. Six years later, Pope Pius XII named Holy Angels as the Cathedral when he established the Gary Diocese out of territory which was once part of the Fort Wayne Diocese. In what may be an homage to its mother diocese, the Seraphic Angel wings, which appear in the Fort Wayne coat of arms, were carried over in a simplified form to that of Gary.
Angels were made by God to watch over, guard and guide creation. As pure spirits, they do not actually possess wings, yet wings are used as a symbolic way of showing the higher realms in which they move as agents of God’s will and voice. As we read in the last book of Scripture: “Then I saw another angel flying overhead, with everlasting good news to announce to those who dwell on earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue and people.” Revelation 14:6 NAB
Beneath the angel wings is a thurible emitting three tongues of incense indicative of prayer to the three persons of the Blessed Trinity. From Old Testament times until now, incense has ritual significance. Its sweet aroma symbolizes something pleasing and acceptable offered to God. In the vision John has of the final heavenly liturgy, the elders hold harps and gold bowls filled with incense. The symbol appears in Revelation 8:3-4 “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. … The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.”
The liturgy offered by the Church at prayer in their Cathedral with their bishop, gives us a foretaste of the great liturgy that will be celebrated before the throne of God.

The Church in the diocese manifests herself in the most visible way when the Bishop celebrates the Eucharistic Sacrifice in his cathedral church, with the concelebration of his priests, the assistance of the deacons, and the participation of the faithful (cf. Sacred Congregation for the Liturgy – Arinze; 2008). Appropriately the center of Bishop McClory’s coat of arms is a (white) host and gold (yellow) chalice, signifying the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the centrality of the Holy Eucharist in the life of the Catholic Church and in the life of a bishop. It is also a reference to Bishop McClory’s priestly ordination in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, Michigan.
To the left of the chalice is a (brown) pine cone, acknowledging the Bishop’s baptismal patron, Saint Robert Bellarmine (1542 -1621) an Italian, Jesuit Cardinal and one of the most important figures of the Counter-Reformation. This egg-shaped pine cone is native to the town of Montepulciano, the Italian birthplace of Bellarmine. For that reason, it is found on the Bellarmine Family’s Coat of Arms. In Christian symbolism, the pine cone is seen as the crown of the Tree of Life.
At the right side of the chalice is a (red) rose. Roses are often used to reference St. Therese. Born in Lisieux, France in 1873, Therese was a Discalced Carmelite nun widely venerated in modern times. She is popularly known as the “Little Flower of Jesus”. Upon her death bed Therese said: “After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth. I will raise up a mighty host of little saints. My mission is to make God loved….” Saint Therese is the patronal saint of the McClory family. Bishop McClory celebrated his fist Mass as a priest and eventually became the pastor and rector of the National Basilica Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica, in Royal Oak, Michigan. Bishop McClory was called to the episcopacy by Pope Francis in 2019 while serving as the rector of that same Basilica.
Girdling the base of the chalice is the (white) triple-knotted cincture which is used as an emblem of the Third Order of St. Francis. The knots stand for the cardinal virtues of Faith, Hope and Love as well as for the Holy Trinity. The Bishop’s parents, James and Ann, met as members of the Third Order at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. The cincture thus honors St. Francis of Assisi, but more significantly the Bishop’s parents and the sacrament of Matrimony.
The bottom of Bishop McClory’s Coat of Arms features a (brown) key, which in this case references the Order of Porter – the first of the former Minor Orders leading to Priesthood. The basic duties of “porter” were to care for the opening and closing of the church building as well as to care for the temporalities of the Church. It is used here to recall the “Porter of St. Bonaventure Monastery” in Detroit, the recently beatified Fr. Solanus Casey. His holiness was manifest in the large numbers of persons who came to the door of the Monastery seeking his guidance and prayers. Bishop McClory, while he was the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia in the Archdiocese of Detroit, participated in the pre-canonization planning for the beatification of Blessed Solanus.
All of the above symbols are displayed against a blue background, which pays homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. Shortly before receiving the call to the episcopacy, the Bishop had just completed a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady in Lourdes, France. His ordination to the episcopacy was on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11, 2020.

Covering the top of the shield, is the (green) galero. It is also known as a “pilgrim’s hat” because of its wide brim protecting the traveler from the elements. In this context, the galero indicates a bishop’s willingness to journey to distant places for the faith – while at the same time expecting the protection of the shadow of God as noted in Psalm 84:12: “For a sun and shield is the Lord God, bestowing all grace and glory. The Lord withholds no good thing from those who walk without reproach.”
The galero has a cord attached to it. It is flanked by two sets of six tassels, or “fiocchi”. Originally this cord and tassels were simply the way of securing the hat to the traveler’s head. Tradition dictates that a bishop’s galero and cord are depicted in the color green, with six tassels arranged in three rows on either side, indicating the rank of bishop.
Above and behind the shield, there appears a gold (yellow) processional cross consisting of a large center cross with four smaller Greek crosses (a cross with four equal arms) in each quadrant. Known as the Jerusalem cross, it dates back to the 11th and 12th century. The large cross symbolizes Christ and the four smaller crosses symbolize the four corners of the earth. The Jerusalem Cross is used here as an emblem of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, of which Bishop McClory is a Knight. The Order assists those who work to maintain Christianity in modern day Jerusalem. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8.

It is customary for a bishop to select a written motto to complete his Coat of Arms. This serves as a motif for his ministry. This motto is placed on a ribbon or scroll at the base of the processional cross. For his Episcopal Ordination Bishop McClory chose a text from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians — “Iesum Dominum Pradecamus.” In translation: “We proclaim Jesus as Lord,” taken from the passage “We proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Cor. 4:5) This motto encapsulates the primacy of Jesus and the commitment to having a servant’s heart in serving our brothers and sisters.
Prepared and executed for the Most Reverend Robert J. McClory in January of 2020 by the Rev. Timothy Pelc of the Archdiocese of Detroit, with the assistance of Stephenie Ruttinger and Michael Heckman.

Care to comment?