14 September 2008

Festival of Light, Sept 14th, 2008

The Cathedral of Christ the Light celebrated the setting of the foundations stones (one old one from our old Cathedral of St Francis de Sales), the blessing (and filling) of the baptismal pool, the blessing of the ambry and installation of the sacred chrisms the Cathedral will use for baptisms, confirmations, ordinations, and anointing of the sick, the blessing of the stations of the cross, and various other sacred art including the crucifix in the ambo. The liturgy was wonderful and very powerful. The portion I personally participated in was the transfer of water from my parish baptismal font to the new baptismal pool in Christ the Light. After being sent forth with a pitcher of holy water from our own parish fonts, pitcher bearers processed from the site of the old to the new Cathedrals and then into the new space. Water from Lourdes Shrine, St Peter's Basilica, the River Jordan, and our local Lake Merritt, as well as each of the 84 parishes in the diocese were emptied into the once-empty font.

Baptismal Font (Great doors and parish flags in the background)

The entire celebration was very powerful and moving. It was especially powerful seeing both Bp John Cummins and Bp Allen Vigneron acting equally in the blessing of the stations of the cross, for instance. I have included some pictures from the Cathedral below. There are others, and I hope I can put them up as well. Especially beautiful is all the wood, and of course the place of light in the whole. It is simple and elegant. For me personally one of the details I found most moving was the form and style of the confessionals: stark, and yet warmed by the wood and light, they involve as "S" shaped wooden screen (built from blocks of polished wood) with a simple wooden chair on each side in the niches formed by the curves of the screen. It could not be clearer that what occurs here occurs between a person and God with the mediation of the priest. Nothing else is needed, no other supports and no props --- nothing to cling to in terms of roles or worldly success. It is a powerful mix of intimacy and solitude and reminds us to remember (claim and be consoled by) who we are before God.

Confessional (Section in center swings open to allow face to face confession)

Crucifix in Ambo
New Tabernacle. (Tabernacle opens from the back; there is a smaller chapel of reservation behind the wooden screen in this picture.)
Main floral setting during celebration
Bishop's Coat of Arms (I will change this for the finished one at another time. The tan colored sections actually hide brilliant silver work which was seen only on the day of dedication.)
Corpus in one of the side chapels (Meant to accent the Spanish and Mexican dimension of CA history.)

See also the earlier post for the image of Christ as pantocrator (Christ in Majesty) formed by light on inner panels on the wall above the Altar. This is the most striking aspect of the the Cathedral, and though I have not yet seen it, is apparently visible at night outside the Cathedral when light inside projects the image outward.