Home 9 Resource 9 Praying with our Cathedral’s beautiful windows

Resource from

Thom Saywell

Published on

October 28, 2020

This is a version of the Adsumus Sancte Spiritus* prayer which was set to music and prayed during the Opening Liturgy for Synod 2021-2023 for the Diocese of Palmerston North.

A recording from this liturgy is available above and the words and chords are provided below for use in parishes.

How often are you distracted during Mass? If you’re anything like me, all the time! My mind wanders and my eyes drift away from the altar or lectern. Thankfully, these distractions are transformed into prayer by the beautiful windows that line our Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (my home parish).

Let me explain – and show you how they can do the same for you (or click here to jump straight to the prayer resource).

From Germany to Palmy

The famous architect Frederick Clere designed our Cathedral in the early 20th century. The church opened in 1925 as St Patrick’s. It didn’t become ‘The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit’ until the Diocese was formed in 1980.

The stained glass windows that line the ‘nave’ (or body) of the church came all the way from Munich, Germany. Each set of windows (there are ten sets in total!) feature a well-known parable from the Gospels.

Looking, reading, praying

So as distraction sets in for me during Mass, my eye is often caught by the scenes in these beautiful windows. At those times I find myself naturally reflecting on the gospel through the artistry and emotion shown in them.

See the obvious gentleness of the Samaritan caring for the wounded man. The generous carelessness of the sower as he scatters the seed. The deep sorrow of the son returning to his father.

I encourage you to take a closer look at the windows next time that you’re in the Cathedral, and see if you can recognise all ten parables!

You can view some of these beautiful windows below in high detail. A short explanation of how to pray with them using lectio divina, ‘sacred reading’, is at the bottom of this article.

Lectio Divina

The practice of sacred reading (‘lectio divina’) has been practiced in the church for centuries and is a pathway for prayer with scripture.  It leads us gently into a deeper relationship with Christ as we open ourselves to him.

You could either look up the Scripture and pray with that, or just use the image in the window. Here’s a simple explanation and method that you can use to pray with these parables:

Lectio Divina is a meditative prayer, allowing God to speak through his living Word. It has been described as a way to “feast on God’s Word”, so we’ll use that analogy as we walk through the four steps of this prayer.


1. READ a brief passage of Scripture – “take a bite”
2. REFLECT and meditate on the word or phrase that caught your heart – “chew”
3. RESPOND in prayer to what God called to your attention – “savor”
4. REST in God, contemplating his word to you – “digest”


– From PrayerAndPossibilities.com

E te wairua tapu, we stand before you gathered as one in your name. 

With you alone to guide us
Make yourself at home in our hearts
Teach us the way we must go
and how we are to pursue it.

E te wairua tapu, we stand before you gathered as one in your name. 

We are weak and broken
Don’t let us pro mote disorder
Save us from our ignorance
and may our actions be unbiased.

E te wairua tapu, we stand before you gathered as one in your name. 

Let us find in you our unity
journeying with you to eternal life.
Let us not stray from the way
of truth and what is right.

E te wairua tapu, we stand before you gathered as one in your name. 

All this we ask of you e te Wairua Tapu
who are at work in every place and time.
I te Kotahitanga o te Matua, me te Tamaiti, mo āke āke.

E te wairua tapu, we stand before you gathered as one in your name. 

Music: Mass of Christ, Light of Nations (Tony Alonso)
Copyright 2016 GIA Publications All Rights Reserved

*Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, the first word of the Latin original meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been historically used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, being attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636).  As we are called to embrace this synodal path of Synod 2021-2023, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to work within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace.

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