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Catholic Voice

 September 8, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Our new cathedral: tangible
witness to our love of Christ

Dear Friends,

The sanctuary crucifix for our new cathedral was installed two weeks ago. A photo of it being unwrapped by workers appears on the front page of The Voice so you can get some idea of how beautiful it is. The arrival of the crucifix is a most powerful sign to me that we are, indeed, on the threshold of dedicating the Cathedral of Christ the Light and bringing this project to completion.

There are, of course, many indications that the dedication is now less than three weeks away. The choir is practicing faithfully every Monday evening. The Stations of the Cross have also been installed, and on the Feast of Our Lady Queen of the World, August 22, we celebrated the blessing of the Chancery offices, which lie just across the plaza from the cathedral.

Last week part of the choir organ arrived in time for the festivities that lie ahead. And soon the magnificent tabernacle and the life-size statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary will take their places in the sanctuary.

The arrival of the crucifix was for me such a powerful experience because of the beauty of sculpture and because of what it signifies. The artist has given us a masterpiece of Christian art. The serene nobility of the life-size depiction of Christ in bronze draws the viewer deeply into prayer.

The arrival of the crucifix eloquently expresses the very purpose of our Cathedral Project: that through it we witness to the world that the love of Jesus is the light that dispels the darkness of our world.

Late last month I had the joy of giving what I’ll call an “international tour” of the cathedral. When I was crossing the plaza, two priests from the Archdiocese of Munich (where Pope Benedict was once bishop, you’ll recall) introduced themselves to me. They were in San Francisco as part of their summer holiday. While over there they heard of the beauty of our cathedral and decided to cross the Bay on BART to see the cathedral for themselves.

It was providential that I met them and was able to give them a tour. They were awestruck at the cathedral’s beauty and grandeur. Without any prompting from me they recognized clearly the foundational aim of the project: to present the timeless beauty of Christ and his truth in a medium born of our own age.

I think it was a grace from God for me that led me to meet these priests. Their spontaneous response to the cathedral affirmed that what you and I are working so hard to accomplish will bear great fruit in leading people to experience the presence of the Lord among us and to respond by drawing near to him.

Certainly witnessing to Christ and helping others find in him the divine life he has shared with us is our most important service to our loved ones and our neighbors. But I think it is especially important for the young — for your children and grandchildren and for all the generations that follow.

It is our providential mission to create for them this beacon of hope, so that after we have passed to the Father, we will still speak to them powerfully of our faith and invite them to know Christ better and to make him better known.

Many of you, as your parish’s delegates, will be attending the first public ceremony to take place at the cathedral, on the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 14. I look forward to being with you. After that service, the cathedral will be open during the days before the Sept. 25 dedication for anyone who wishes to go in and view it. I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity.

The cathedral belongs to all of us; please come to see the great work in which we are partners. And while you are there be sure to begin to hallow it with your prayers. With all my heart I thank you for your prayerful support in this great project to the glory of God and the spreading of his saving light.

 

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

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