As I have spent part of the past couple of days for various celebrations on the Christ Cathedral campus, I have taken time to reflect on the mission of the Cathedral in the local Church. The Cathedral is known as “the Bishop’s Church.” The New Advent website defines the Cathedral as “The chief church of a diocese, in which the bishop has his throne (cathedra) and close to his residence; it is, properly speaking, the bishop’s church, wherein he presides, teaches, and conducts worship for the whole Christian community.” The word “cathedral” comes from the Latin “cathedra” or chair. In this case, the Church in which the Bishop’s chair is placed is where the ministry of the Diocesan Bishop of teaching, governing and sanctifying is carried out. The importance of the Cathedral as the “Bishop’s Church” is also reflected in the Code of Canon Law, which has at least 23 entries about the life and mission of the Cathedral Church.
We all are certainly grateful as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Diocese of Orange this year for what Holy Family Cathedral represents and its ministry and mission as the Cathedral of the Diocese of Orange these nearly 40 years. At the same time, the Christ Cathedral campus is beginning to grow into the life of what a Cathedral campus should be and do and witness as the future home of the “Bishop’s Church.” I would like to reflect as the Christmas season finishes and Ordinary Time is upon us, on three images I have spent time with recently on the Christ Cathedral campus.
The flight into Egypt
The images of Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus right by the Cathedral building not only call us back to the Christmas season, but bring to us the image of journey and family. Mary and Joseph were immigrants, as Archbishop Gomez has reminded us. They were also refugees fleeing from the cruelty of King Herod. This gives us an occasion to pause and reflect on the plight of refugees both abroad and here. If we meet them, how do we receive them? Pope Francis has reminded us again and again of the worldwide plight of refugees, especially those from the Middle East. How can and will we respond? The image of the infant Jesus in this statue is certainly startling, because it is silver and reflects back to us. Yet, who do we see when we look into the face of the Christ Child? We see ourselves! Thus, our faith must as well reflect the face of Christ back to those whom we meet.
The candles, images and prayers of all God’s people
Right inside of the doors of the Cathedral are images of the Mother of God as Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of La Vang, Saint James the pilgrim (Santiago), and Saint Junipero Serra. They are surrounded by candles, which when lit, represent the prayers of so many people asking the intercession of the Mother of God, Saint James and Saint Junipero Serra for the Christ Cathedral project. Moreover, they teach us of the importance of praying for the journey of Christ Cathedral in these next months and years, and to thank God for the generosity of people in the Diocese and beyond who are part of this by their sacrifice. The candles also represent their prayers and petitions and are a reminder for us to pray for them. Especially in the evening and at night, the light from the candles shines on the faces of the Saints. Christ Cathedral is not just a business or a great project to accomplish on our own. It must reflect the faith and devotion of all of the people of our Diocese and those who come here, as we surround this journey of Faith with our love and prayers. The images of Saint James the pilgrim and Saint Junipero Serra remind us that we always go forward – “Siempre Adelante.” We continue the journey of Faith of Christ Cathedral in this pilgrimage also remembering that this is the Lord’s plan and journey.
The repair and cleaning of the windows
At any given time of the day, evening or night, the windows reflect sunrise, sunset, the fountains and the images of folks who come here to visit and pray. Yet, the windows need much work and attention, especially since this is an El Nino year with the possibility of a lot of rain. This aspect of the project could take up to a year and needs to be done before anything else. This is a reminder for us that the Christ Cathedral is always on God’s time, not our own!
Yet there is another aspect to the cleaning and repair of each of the panes of glass. The repairs mean the glass may better reflect the beauty of the environment and the sunshine. In this Year of Mercy, let us pray that the Mercy of God will help to cleanse us of the dust and dirt of our lives that can block the light of Christ to us, and then to others. There will be a number of events in this Year of Mercy, Diocesan-wide, that will help us so just that. So, as the windows are being shined up and cleaned, so too are the windows of our souls!
Let us also pray for the safety of the workers who will undertake this next phase of work, often from the heights of a great construction crane. I blessed the workers, the crane, the basket which will carry the workers, and a pane of glass right before Christmas. You can find the link for this at https://occatholic.com/first-phase-of-renovation-of-christ-cathedral-begins-with-a-blessing/.
As we reflect on the images on the Christ Cathedral campus and continue the journey of the Bishop’s Church, we can also turn to the opening prayer for the feast day of the dedication of the great Mother Church for all Catholics, the Cathedral of St. John Lateran in Rome:
“O God, who from the living and chosen stones prepare an eternal dwelling for your majesty, increase in your Church the spirit of grace you have bestowed, so that by new growth your faithful people may build up the heavenly Jerusalem.”
God bless you and thank you for your dedication, sacrifice and prayer. A blessed New Year to you and your loved ones.