Bishop Alfred Schlert celebrated his daily 8 a.m. online Mass at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena today, the Feast of the Consecration of the Cathedral.
On April 29, 1981, Bishop Joseph McShea celebrated a Pontifical Mass of Dedication in the Cathedral, consecrating it in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Allentown.
In his homily, Bishop Schlert noted that a parish church is like our parish living room, and the cathedral is like our diocesan living room.
Here is a synopsis:
“Today is the feast day of St. Catharine of Siena, and on this day in 1981, Bishop McShea consecrated this beautiful cathedral forever to the service of God.
When a church is consecrated, it means that it is set apart for use exclusively for divine worship; it is set apart exclusively for God, and for praising Him. Around the walls of this cathedral are 12 candles that represent the 12 apostles, almost as if they were standing guard, protecting the church and its walls.
At each of those candles on that day, Bishop McShea anointed the walls with Sacred Chrism, the same Chrism that is put on us for Baptism and Confirmation, the same sacred oil that is put on the hands of priests when they are ordained.
When I was growing up, my parish pastor would always tell us that our parish church was our parish living room, a comfortable place where we gather as a parish family. We come together there for celebrations of the Sacraments, Baptisms of children and adults, weddings and funerals, and especially every Sunday for Mass.
A cathedral also has a broader use. It is the diocesan living room. It is a place where everyone in the Diocese should be comfortable. It has all of those beautiful moments that a parish church has, but also has ordinations to the Diaconate, ordinations to the Priesthood, installations and funerals of bishops, and major gatherings, especially the Chrism Mass, when priests renew the promises they made on ordination day.
Why celebrate the anniversary of the dedication or consecration of a building? Because for us, it is much more than a building, it is our diocesan living room. It is a place we should all come to feel welcome, to feel embraced by the love of the Church. It belongs to each of us.
A cathedral also has the Bishop’s chair, his cathedra, which is a symbol of the Bishop’s obligation to faithful, humble service to his people. Whether a parish church or a cathedral, each one is a throne for Jesus who is truly present in the Tabernacle of every Catholic Church.
So today we celebrate this diocesan church, this cathedral, where our family of faith gathers. We gather today to give thanks to God, to ask the intercession of St. Catharine of Siena, and also Mary, the Mother of the Church, who is the patroness of our Diocese. We pray that in all we do, we might do God’s will, that we might please him by our activity as a family of faith, and that He might bless our efforts and bring us one day to that banquet in Heaven, where we stand around that heavenly altar.
May God bless you.”
For more information on St. Catharine of Siena, see this piece on mycatholic.life.