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May 7, 2007 VOL. 45, NO. 9Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Cathedral is becoming a masterpiece that speaks of faith

Dear Friends in Christ:

The principal theme of my remarks this week is our new cathedral. During these very days, the great inner vault of the Cathedral of Christ the Light is rising up from the foundational walls on the plaza at the corner of Harrison Street and Grand Avenue, across from Children’s Fairyland. It is a majestic and awe-inspiring sight.

As of my last visit to the site, there were already 10 100-foot-long wooden vertical ribs in place. These are mounted on top of the concrete foundation wall (The Reliquary Wall) which forms the base of the building. And in four of the spaces between these ribs the horizontal “louvers” are in place.

The result is that the part of work which is now done makes it very easy for us to use our imagination “to fill in the blanks” in order to picture what this masterpiece will be like when completed.

From even the small portion of the vault that is now up, we have a solid confirmation of how beautiful our cathedral will be. For centuries to come our local Church and our East Bay community will have in our midst a stunningly splendid image of the heavenly vault.
God the Creator made that cosmic vault to be a dwelling place for light: “And God set [the lights] in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth” (Genesis1:17).

Our cathedral is a symbol, a sort of “miniature,” of that cosmic vault. In this way the builder makes it possible through his art for us to be in the presence of the first light of the first day of creation, when God, the master architect, gave the order: “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).

And this great icon-building also lets us be present to the light that will dawn on the last day of the world’s history: that light which will never set because it is the light that will shine out from Christ himself: “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb [Jesus Christ] (Revelation 21:23).

To all the generations that will see the Cathedral of Christ the Light in the centuries to come, we, who build it, will be witnessing to the truth that the world was from its beginning made for Jesus Christ and that at its consummation it will find its only true fulfillment in him.

Those who accept in Christ the Light that guides their steps through the world are on the path of true wisdom and enlightenment, heading to their life’s fulfillment, and they will bask in his light in the heavenly Jerusalem forever.

The light of this world, as marvelous as it is, is only a shadow of the true light that is Jesus. This is the good news we share; this is the message of the New Evangelization called for by the Second Vatican Council.

In presenting our message to our community through this architectural masterpiece, we are offering Christ’s saving word in a most effective medium, one that is powerfully attractive: a medium that speaks with that kind of force which beauty exercises in order to captivate us, to elicit from us the freely given gift of our heart, the very gift that Christ asks for.

As I invite people to help build this great work of Christian art, I try to help them understand how important it is as a resource for the Catholic community of the East Bay to accomplish our mission.

I am convinced that God will do great things in our midst through the new cathedral and the center which surrounds it, and all the events that take place there – great public events, like an annual youth rally or a Mass to pray for teachers; and more private events, like a half hour of peace-restoring-quiet under the great luminous vault.

We are not far away from the time when I will be asking all the people of our diocese to support this great effort. Right now, as the walls of our church are rising, I am asking for something even more important; I am begging you for your prayers.

Please pray ardently for God to sustain us in bringing this project to a successful completion – a work to spread his glory and to illuminate the path to saving peace.

In drawing this column to its conclusion, I want to be sure to express a word of congratulations for Mother’s Day. To all of you who fulfill this most noble and important task, I offer, in the name of the Church, this expression of appreciation for all the ways you generously live this calling. Please know that you have the support of the prayers of the whole Christian community.

Christ, the Light of all Peoples, have mercy on us.

Our Lady, Mother of the Church in Oakland and Queen of the World, pray for us.

 

Previous "In His Light" Columns by Bishop Allen H. Vigneron

 

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