If we think about the great cathedrals of Europe, we imagine the flying buttresses of Notre Dame in Paris, the rich history of St. Paul’s in London, or grand spaciousness of Washington National Cathedral. Cathedrals are so named because they are the place of the bishop’s chair and seat of ecclesial office and authority.
And so, in this age, our image of Cathedral is likely focused on buildings or status of a bygone era. Over the last several days, I have found myself in the midst of moments in our cathedral that suggest a very different presence in the life of this diocese. On Saturday, June 11th, four people were ordained as deacons in a packed cathedral that was host to folks from all over the diocese, and beyond. It was joyous and beautiful. A week later, I was back at the cathedral to be with the Rev. Dr. Simon Mainwaring and the people of St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea, San Diego, as again you were gracious host to a full nave. This time it was the sorrowful memorial of a husband, father, son and brother who died too young in a tragic automobile accident while traveling to a scouting event.
Throughout the year, each church in our diocese engages in significant and laboring ministry for so many. However, I want to give thanks for our cathedral, which witnesses to the spirit of unity within our diocesan community, through a ministry of quiet, joyous, and sacred services for the wider diocese. There are scores of vergers, choristers, staff members, clergy members, acolytes, altar guild members, ushers, and others who make this happen. We are so blessed.
Indeed, I would suggest that this incarnational giving to the people of the diocese and beyond is the real grandeur of a twenty-first century cathedral. All of this simply is me saying that I love our congregations and our diocese. And at this moment, I want to say, I love our cathedral.
The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes
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One reply to “What it Means to Be a Twenty-first Century Cathedral”
Having been a member of St. Paul’s since 1986 and seeing many changes and having just completed a week’s Icon Writing Retreat in this sacred space where 18 people came together from many places; presence becomes a mystical experience. We are definitely the Cathedral for the City.