We Catholics in our life of worship reverence signs and symbols. In fact, it has been said that the language of worship is the language of sign and symbol. From a small portion of bread and wine, to water gushing in abundance, to clouds of incense rising to heaven, to hands gently laid on one’s head in loving reverence, these and so many more gestures within the rhythm of our liturgy ‘speak’ their profound and grace-filled meaning. And, at the heart of that meaning is the celebration of the Holy Presence of our God who makes his dwelling place with us in His Anointed Son, the living Christ.
Not only do these tangible signs symbol-forth Holy Presence, but also the very time in which we live becomes an opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for holy presence, past, present and future.
And so, it is with this in mind that we as the Diocese of Orange are setting aside a year of grace and blessing in anticipation of the solemn dedication of our new and long-awaited Christ Cathedral. This year of prayerful anticipation and celebration has been called for by Bishop Kevin Vann, beginning on June 29, 2018, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. It will solemnly draw to a close with the festive Dedication of Christ Cathedral on July 17, 2019.
Why a year of Preparation? Not unlike the great festivals of Easter and Christmas that are anticipated by weeks of Lenten and Advent preparation, this historic moment in the 42-year history of our local Church, calls us to focus our minds and hearts on the ‘meaning’ of this moment in our communal journey of faith.
During each month of our Year of Preparation, the meaning of our Cathedral Church, through its signs and symbols, will be the focus of our prayerful reflection. From the meaning of what we call a ‘Diocese’ to the very symbols that come together to shape a Cathedral identity, it is our hope that this historic moment will deepen our own sense of identity to the community of latter day disciples that make up the living Body of Christ in Orange County, California.
It is fitting that we begin our journey of prayerful preparation on the great Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Peter, the ‘rock’ upon whom the Lord would build his Church, speaks powerfully of the continuity of the Church that is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. The charism given to St. Peter and his successors down through the centuries was to ‘confirm’ the faith of all believers and witness to the continuing presence of the Good Shepherd in our midst. The charism given to St. Paul, the Apostles to the Gentiles, witnesses to the evangelical dynamism that forever beats at the heart of the Church. It was St. Paul who, in the power of God’s spirit, preached the good news beyond safe confines of his home to the four corners of the known world.
As a people of faith in the Diocese of Orange, we are rich in cultural and ethnic diversity. In a real sense, the Church of Orange is the very embodiment of that Pauline concept of the Body of Christ who, out of many are one in the Lord who continues to shepherd us in the truth of the Gospel.
May this special Year of Preparation truly be a time for us to remember and give thanks for all that has gone before, bringing us to this graced moment of celebration and filling our hearts with hope and confidence for the future that the Lord will open before us in his service.
This is the first in a series of articles that will run in the year ahead of the dedication of Christ Cathedral in July 2019.