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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Monday, June 04, 2007

Cathedral Centennial Celebrations

This past weekend, our Cathedral of Saint Paul celebrated its centennial of the laying of the cornerstone (June 2nd, 1907). To honor the occasion were four days of festivities and events, with the highlight being a Solemn Mass on the evening of the anniversary itself - complete with Apostolic Blessing granted to those participating by His Holiness Benedict XVI! (The notification was received via telegram that morning with greetings by both the Holy Father and the Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, and shared with us at the close of the Mass by our rector. I wish they would post the full text online!)

I had quite the busy weekend, between shooting photos for a friend's wedding on Saturday, hosting a meeting at the parish on Sunday morning for our mission trip youth, and driving back and forth from the west burbs to St. Paul every day... I didn't quite make it to all the events, but here's what I did make it for (click the photos to see the full albums and commentary):

Cathedral Centennial - Thursday Night Lights!

On Thursday evening, a donor paid to have a huge "stadium" light brought in and set up across from the front of the Cathedral, illuminating the (recently cleaned) building with a brilliant light that certainly attracted attention! I had been at the Cathedral for afternoon Mass, went to dinner (it was my feast day, the Visitation - had to celebrate! :) and then came back to the Cathedral around 8pm to help a friend get materials ready for the weekend. I was a bit surprised to see lots of random people loitering about, then realized that the special lighting had been advertised in the paper beginning at 8pm, I have no idea why since you couldn't really see it until full dark anyway. When my friend and I got done around 9:30 and went outside, boy, NOW I could see what the fuss was about! The shine of the light drew us along with a ton of other people to the front steps to just hang out, take photos and gaze in awe. Totally cool. There were literally hundreds of people, including families, just hanging out at the Cathedral all the way until midnight, when the lights were, sadly, turned off.

Cathedral Centennial - Choir Concert and Fireworks

Friday evening was packed full, the parish picnic was held in the courtyard (no photos, sorry - I didn't get there until late and it was starting to rain!) and then there was a spectactual free choir concert in the Cathedral, consisting of four choirs - ours, the Archdiocesan choir, and the choirs from the parishes of St. Olaf (Minneapolis) and Nativity of Our Lord (St. Paul). Each piece of music had some connection to the chapels, Latin inscriptions, or architecture of the Cathedral, and the program quite helpfully included commentary on each selection to explain why it had been chosen. I thought it was really great how they organized the concert - they split up the choirs, and had them sing one at a time from various points inside the Cathedral (one choir sang "Ave Maria" in the Virgin Mary chapel, another sang "Tu est Petrus" in the St. Peter chapel, etc.) so that the building seemed to be literally singing to us of its story! Really a remarkable and memorable effect. To conclude, all four choirs combined in the sanctuary and sang a few positively gorgeous selections. I really wish this had been recorded in some way, though I am not at all certain that anything like the effect of "surround sound" around the church could be attained. One more note on the concert - it was definitely an example of "if you build it they will come", my estimate is that at least 2500 people were in attendance! I say that because the Cathedral itself seats about 3000, and the only open space was the extreme ends of the pews in the far end of the transcepts... plus there were lots of people choosing to stand in the areas of better acoustics, so I'd say 2500 is a conservative guess!! And this was NOTHING like their typical Haugen/Haas church "experience" - Wow, what a prime opportunity for sacred music evangelization!

Following the concert, there was an attempt to have an "ice cream social" out on the front steps, but that didn't last long - there were way more people than expected and the ice cream ran out within a few minutes! Fortunately, everyone was happily chattering away and some didn't even notice. Then the fireworks began! It was a good showing of them too, I was quite impressed. I only wish I would have had the foresight to hightail it across the river right after the concert, so as to get shots of the fireworks WITH the Cathedral, instead of just the fireworks from the steps... I don't suppose I can ask for a "redo" though. We'll just have to wait until the Centennial of the first Mass - in 2015! LOL! :)

Cathedral Centennial - Solemn Mass

Saturday was another busy day for the Cathedral, but alas I was busy most of the day at a friend's wedding (a very moving and beautiful one - please pray for Maria and Joe!) and was not able to attend the events of the parade, parish festival, and, most of all, the guided tours led by various parishioners and clergy dressed up in historically correct garb (that would have been a sight to see :)

I did, however, make it over to the evening Mass. As mentioned above, the Solemn Mass was the highlight of the weekend, with the blessing of the Pope! On top of that, it was my first "sighting" of our next Archbishop, John Nienstedt, who concelebrated the Mass, but didn't say a word (Archbishop Flynn at the end of Mass humorously observed that this was NOT Nienstedt's "welcome Mass", I half expected him to then add "but that doesn't mean you're not welcome" but he didn't :) Bishops Pates (local auxiliary), Harrington (Winona MN), Swain (Sioux Falls SD), and Carlson (Saginaw MI) were also in attendance; it was great to see the regional episcopal support!

Cathedral Centennial - Solemn Vespers and Adoration

To wrap it up, on Sunday the official Centennial events closed with a beautiful Solemn Vespers service, complete with Adoration and Benediction by Bishop Pates. However, God added His own special touch of blessing upon the weekend, wrapped up with a bow:

And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will look upon it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth."
~ Genesis 9:12-16


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