Fr. Matthew O'Toole posted on December 14, 2012 10:23
If you go to Chartres, you must have a guided tour by Malcolm Miller. He’s an Englishman who’s made it his life to explain for people how Chartres is “read.” On my second visit to Chartres, another priest and I joined a group of students from Marquette University who sat attentively listening to Malcolm Miller interpret the vaulting lancet windows crowned by rose windows. The students craned their necks and squinted their eyes trying to follow Miller’s lecture of the colored pictures which were at a distance. Then, in the middle of a sentence, Professor Miller stopped and in a snotty, English-sort-of-way, snidely said to the collegians, “How can any of you young people follow what I’m saying without binoculars?” At which point, my priest friend and I stretched out our binoculars in hand, showing off. Professor Miller approved: “Obviously, the good padres here know how to come prepared and appreciate all I’m teaching.” Now, the only reason we had binoculars is that a few years before on my first tour of Chartres I was the one berated by Miller for not coming prepared!
Like the spectacularly colorful stained glass windows which soar stories high and are filled with finely detailed images difficult to make out from the ground, Christmas stands in front of us. Our senses can be overwhelmed. So to focus our eyes on what we’re seeing, it helps to be prepared and to have those binoculars. Focus with quiet, with scripture reading, with reflection. Don’t miss what you’re looking at. Just because Christmas is before you doesn’t necessarily mean to see it.