Today we celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the central church of our archdiocese, Holy Rosary Cathedral.
It’s clear that this is a very significant day, since the liturgical calendar ranks it as a feast throughout the diocese.
Why is that?
An obvious answer would be the importance of the cathedral to the life of the local church. It’s there that the archbishop has his chair, or cathedra, and it’s there we celebrate great moments in the community of faith. Many of us have gone to confession there thanks to the dedicated ministry of the Cathedral priests. Holy Rosary is a symbol of the unity of the diocesan family.
But that answer alone really wouldn’t explain this feastday. After all, when we celebrated yesterday the gift of our Guardian Angels, that liturgy was a ‘memorial’, a less important rank than feast.
The reason for this is deeply theological. In all religions, the temple is the place where the divinity is thought to make itself present to worshippers. By means of the temple, they enter into communication with the world of the gods.
We see this in paganism, we see this in Buddhism, and we saw it in the Old Testament, where the temple at Jerusalem is the sign of the presence of God among his people.
But that Old Testament sign was “provisional” and passing, destined to be replaced with a sign of another sort—not, however, a building, but the Body of Christ and his Church (Xavier Léon-Dufour, Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2nd ed.]594).
That’s why the Church is the New Jerusalem—itself a sign of God-with-us. We, as members of the Body of Christ, form a spiritual temple not built by human hands. Together with Christ, St. Peter tells us, we are one building (1 Pt 2:4).
So our feast today celebrates the invisible richness that eclipses even the most beautiful art and architecture of the great cathedrals of Europe. We recall the dedication of Holy Rosary as a shining symbol of the Church with a capital C, built on Christ, the foundation and cornerstone.
We rejoice in the presence of God in our midst—not just within four walls at Richards and Dunsmuir, but in the Body of Christ, which is at one and the same time, temple, sacrifice, and priest (Xavier Léon-Dufour, Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2nd ed.]594).
At the same time, as members of this local Church, the anniversary of the dedication of our cathedral to God’s praise and glory reminds us today of our call to work together in faith and charity for its growth and upbuilding.