No, I’m not talking about Pat Sajak or Vanna White. It’s something much more interesting. I’m reading Fr. Robert Barron’s book Heaven in Stone and Glass where he discusses the “spirituality of the great cathedrals.” In talking about the rose windows that are so characteristic of gothic cathedrals he mentions something known as “the wheel of fortune.” He writes,
“There is another circle found in many of the Gothic cathedrals that makes much the same spiritual point as the rose window. This is the so-called wheel of fortune. In most depictions of the wheel, a great circle is topped by a crowned figure, and over his head is the word regno (I am reigning). Moving clockwise along the rim of the wheel, we come to a man who has lost his crown and is tumbling downward, and next to him is the word regnavi (I have reigned). At the bottom of the wheel is a pauper dressed in rags, and his motto is the sad phrase sum sine regno (I have no power). Finally, as we move upward on the left side of the circle, we come to an ambitious figure eagerly climbing to the top. And he says, ‘regnabo‘ (I will reign). At the center of the wheel of fortune, at the meeting point of the spokes, is the figure of Christ.”
“The spiritual lesson is simple and profound. Throughout one’s life, the wheel of fortune turns, placing one sometimes in positions of power and pleasure, sometimes in poverty and ignominy, now moving up and now moving down. The one thing we can be sure of is that the wheel will revolve. But we must not live on the rim of that wheel, clinging to the shifting, fading, and unreliable goods of the world. Rather we must situate ourselves in the center, at the still-point where Christ stands. From this vantage point, we can watch the wheel turn, finally indifferent to success or failure, long life or short life, adulation or condemnation. At the center of the wheel we assume the spiritual freedom that soul masters call ‘detachment.'” (pp. 33-34)
Are you on the wheel of fortune or situated in the center with Christ?
Heaven in Stone and Glass is from Crossroad Publishing Company. It is a paperback with 128 pages and sells for $14.95.