Cathedral of Christ the Light

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Many bloggers who write from a distance have the audacity to judge a building based on pictures and news reports. Both Whispers and the American Papist are young catholics who seem to make gossip their hobby, and they are host to many comments calling the Cathedral hideous, and a monstrosity. Well, last Thursday I was a participant in one of the most beautiful liturgies I have ever been part of. It was an amazing event.

First of all, the building sings. The acoustics are wonderful andf the sound of singing in the place is worthy of any cathedral.

Secondly, the heart of any worship space is the people. No one who was there had a single word of complaint.

Yes, I am a bit more traditional. This might not have been what I would have built. But I believe this is a place for the ages, and future ages will judge it differently after it has had years of experience. Cathedrals are built over hundreds of years.

But for now, at the dawn of the 21st century, the Cathedral of Christ the light is the jewel of Oakland.

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One of my favorite moments at the dedication was the anointing of the altar and the wallls. There are twelve candles that circle the cathedral and each one is labeled with the name of an apostle. During the dedication the walls were anointed with chrism.

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I love the Stations of the Cross at the Cathedral. They are the work of the same artist that rendered the Crucifix and the Statue of Mary. They are at the level where they can be handled by the people as they are making the way of the cross. I would love to witness these bronze stations in a hundred years after they have been made smooth by the devotion of generations of people.

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The art in the Cathedral is beautiful. This modern creation has the Diocesan patron St. Francis De Sales holding the first cathedral, and St. Joseph holding Mission San Jose.

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This image of the return from Egypt is in the Holy Family Chapel.

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The Cathedral makes use of Natural Light. This can bee seen in this amage of the Cathedra, the Bishop's Throne.

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The baptismal font has water from the Jordan river, from St. Peter in Rome, from Lourdes, from Lake Merritt, and from the fonts of all the parishes in the diocese.

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The Ambry:

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The altar is surrounded by four large Candles. The Ambo rises from the Choir. The Crucifix towers over the Ambo.

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The midday sun fills the Cathedral with natural light. The space is warm and inviting.

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The Eucharistic Chapel:

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The Mausoleum is beneath the Cathedral. The altar from the old cathedral is directly below the main altar. This is where the Casket is placed for the Rite of Committal. Light from the Cathedral bathes the Mausoleum with light.

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The image of Christ in Glory, an image over the door in the Chartres Cathedral, towers over the altar. It is nearly 60 feet tall in the 90 foot Omega Window and is made from 94,000 small holes digitally placed in the metal and then covered with glass. Sitting in the pews it seems as if the image is projected on the screen. This, I believe, is to become the signature image of this Cathedral. A Photograph does not do it justice. To stand in the cathedral is to lift up your eyes to this wondrous image of Christ the teacher reigning in Glory. An immature blogger from the other coast disrespectfully called this "whatever that is."

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A lot of the criticism of the so called American Papist who has little respect for the teaching office of the church stemmed from an inaccurate and unfair article in the New York Time about a healing garden that was initiated by victims of sexual abuse from priests in this diocese. They designed it. It is not finished yet and will be ready for its dedication in October. Here we see a CNN reporter sitting in the garden. He was there to do interviews about the cathedral, but their report is mainly on this garden, because the media seems only able to focus on that scene.

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The light of heaven, the light of Christ; when looking up it appears that the heavens are about to open.

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The Alpha Window:

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Are the Stations supposed to have a wooden cross atop them?

You have done a fine job with this post to convince us skeptics to give this cathedral a second look. The view from across the waterfront is particularly stunning. I guess the aesthetic situation is similar to the music of Langlais, Messaien, and the like... to some conservative, traditionalist ears, this music sounds like it doesn't belong at the holy sacrifice of the Mass, just like to conservative, traditionalist eyes this building may not look like a fitting dwelling place for the Lord. Just as one must allow modern sacred music to steep in one's ears for awhile, the architecture of this building obviously demands more than kneejerk critiques. Thanks for sharing these photos, and for your insightful explanations.

BTW, you mentioned that the room "sings." Is there an organ in the cathedral? Any sort of serious music program to speak of?

thanks for the photos, Father Jeff.

to the previous poster, yes, a genuine pipe organ is coming, and I think you can see the supports for the pipes in the photos.

Fr. Keyes,

Please see my response to your remarks in this post here:

Or follow it at the blog.

Pax et Fides,

The Duck

Thank you Father for opening up a new light to this Cathedral..I still don't like it. A Cathedral should especially express the Credo of the Church. Neither this one nor LA do so.

I have to admit that I am somewhat of a traditionalist (purist?) when it comes to archetecture. Good architecture (sacred space) really brings my mind to (or away from) God. The interior of the Cathedral is much nicer than the exterior, certainly.

On a positive note, it is certainly ... nicer than the one in LA.

nouvelletheologie (at) hotmail (dot) com

What's the fuss all about??? Granted it doesn't look like a medieveal stone cathedral, but such a traditional building would look terrible out of place in its surroundings
Seen across the water, it has a similar feel to the famed Sydney Opera House -- that took a while to catch on also...

Fr. Keyes,

I'm afraid we will continue to disagree on this one. With all the money put into this, why not build a structure which has the style in its architecture to last to the end of times...not just in a modern fad.

Thank you for the pictures.

I was looking for information on the new organ when I saw your post. (The Voice says the pipes will begin arriving Oct.15 and 26, with a note of a need for helpers to unload the pipes which I plan to do.) I love the Cathedral, even tho I am far from a fan of modern church architecture. My favorite part is the stains on the walls below the apostles' candles, where the walls were anointed with chrism. I'm so glad you have a great shot of that because the stains are slowly fading. I've heard a number of other people say that's a favorite of theirs also. I'd love to see an annual anointing.

  one of Fr. Keyes' photos

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. published on September 28, 2008 8:18 PM.

Plenary indulgence given for dedication of new cathedral was the previous entry in this blog.

Priest Convocation is the next entry in this blog.

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