In the first two columns regarding the future of our Cathedral Church I addressed the need for the interface of the City of God with the City of Man and took up the role of the Bishop at his Cathedral Church in carrying out the mission of the Church which we call the Ministry of the Word. In this final column about the future of the Cathedral I would like to take up the role of the Cathedral Church in fulfilling the other two missions of the whole Church, that is, the Ministry of the Sacraments and the Ministry of Charity.
Again, please let us remember: "in what is necessary unity, where there is freedom diversity, and in all things charity." And let us please remember that apart from practice of the virtue of forbearance, we cannot have the peace within our hearts which is the receptacle of the gift of prayer.
Model of proper liturgical celebration
The Cathedral Church is the place from which the Bishop teaches and where he presides over the Ministry of the Sacraments. Thus, the Cathedral is rightly called the Mother Church of the whole diocese, particularly with regard to the liturgy.
All couples in the diocese, for example, should feel welcome to be married at the Cathedral Church because it belongs to them in a special way. All young people throughout the diocese should feel welcome and should understand that it is special to be confirmed at the Cathedral Church, if they so wish, because it is their home.
The liturgy is celebrated at the Cathedral Church in a way almost identical to the way in which the liturgy is celebrated by our Holy Father, because the Bishop is the glue, as I have said previously, that binds the faithful of the diocese to the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, the Holy Father, unworthy though the local Bishop might be.
And so, especially at the principal Mass on Sundays, at Christmas, Holy Week, and Easter, the Bishop's liturgy at the Cathedral should very much be modeled upon the liturgy as it is celebrated by the Holy Father in Rome. And in the various parish churches of the diocese, especially at Christmas, Holy Week, and Easter the liturgies should imitate the liturgical celebration of the Cathedral Church so that at the most important moments of the liturgical year there is a visible unity and communion in the way in which Catholics gather to pray.
Since the Second Vatican Council and the various misinterpretations that were unintentionally promoted through the discontinuity hermeneutic as Pope Benedict indicated, of which I spoke in an earlier column, there has developed a diversity of liturgical celebration among parishes in our country, perhaps beyond the boundaries of the diversity which is appropriate. The recent liturgical documents of the Church do give us certain options, and those options pertain to the music chosen, to the preparation of the general intercessions, and such matters, but the options given are not unlimited and they do not extend to the very heart of the ritual.
And so the Cathedral should manifest very concretely, very visibly what is the appropriate order of worship, especially for the principal Mass on Christmas, the days of Holy Week, Easter, and ordinary Sundays. If one wants to the see the liturgy of the Universal Church celebrated reverently and well, they should look first to the Cathedral - this is one of the most central meanings of the Cathedral. This modeling of the proper worship of the Church might well take place where the action is, downtown!
Mission to minister through charity
Secondly, the Church, in addition to having a mission for the Ministry of the Word and the Ministry of the Sacraments, has a Ministry of Charity. This particular ministry is assigned in a special way to those who are ordained deacons - they are the visible signs of Christ the Servant, Christ the Doer of works of charity in the community.
Thus, there should be something very visible at the Cathedral Church, in terms of the works of charity which are so precious to Christ as He continues to reach out to the poor, to the sick, to the needy, to all those who suffer and are oppressed in any way. Thus the Cathedral of the Diocese of Madison of the future should be so positioned as to engage directly in works of charity toward the poor, the needy, the suffering, and the oppressed.
Again, I find it unimaginable for the Cathedral to be able to serve this particular Mission of Charity in a place better than downtown Madison. If a Cathedral Church is built in the downtown Madison area, outreach to the poor and needy will be a major, visible element of the life of that Cathedral Parish, as the Church lives out Her diaconal ministry, entrusted in a special way to deacons, but always with the oversight of the Bishop who is called by Christ to have a special concern that the needs of the poor and the suffering be addressed.
Continue to voice perspectives
Again, let me say if someone has a perspective different from mine about this aspect of the life of the Cathedral, please use the available channels or vehicles to voice your differing perspective. As I have said in recent weeks, I am most open at this point to being persuaded otherwise relative to my own point of view.
I hope that these three columns have been useful in stirring some thoughts and dialogue so that together we can prayerfully discern the future of our Cathedral Church which is a very important matter for all of us. How do we see the Diocese of Madison fifty or a hundred years from now? Where should the Cathedral be located and what kind of a Cathedral should it be? How will the best interests of the faith in our diocese, fifty or a hundred years from now, have been best served by the decision that I must make in the foreseeable future with regard to the Cathedral?
I need your help; nothing is clearer to me than that. I find the provision for a Cathedral Church a very daunting responsibility, indeed. But I know that together we can accomplish the will of Christ. Let us proceed in charity, let us proceed with forbearance.
Thank you very much for reading this. God bless each one of you and all of your loved ones. Praised be Jesus Christ!
Diocesan Services Appeal
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It becomes clear as I travel throughout the Diocese and beyond that the value of hard work and commitment to community are more than just superficial considerations to the people of our Diocese. The response to the natural disasters that have affected our local communities, country and the world has been inspiring. The rousing presence of faith within our people has shed tremendous hope on the growth of our Church.
This sense of responsibility and true stewardship can only be attributed to the individual realization that to love our fellow man is to love Christ. The Holy Father himself states in his recent encyclical that the love of God must be reflected in the love of one's neighbor. As a Diocese I believe it is our duty to respond to this call in proportion to the many gifts with which we in southern and south-central Wisconsin have been blessed. I am grateful to each of you for your generous support of so many worthy causes.
Each year we are called upon personally to support the ministries we as a Diocesan community maintain to effectively reach out to those in need. The Diocesan Services Appeal provides us with an exceptional opportunity to live out our faith in a very real sense. Supporting your parish in meeting the goals of our appeal establishes a firm, united base where we may more effectively feed the poor, shelter the homeless and assist the suffering and afflicted. Through the administrative offices of the Diocese we provide service many individual parishes could not support on their own and uphold the initiatives and teaching of the Universal Church. Our participation is vital to the continuation of ministries that exemplify the unselfish love we are all ultimately called to share.
As we approach this holy Lenten season, I ask for your continued support of the Diocesan Services Appeal. Consider what generosity God has shared with each of us when answering this call to support the Diocese and the good works we seek to provide. Be assured of my continued prayers for your families and parishes. God bless us as we continue the work of Christ Risen!
Gratefully yours in Christ,
Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
Mailing address: P.O. Box 44985, Madison, WI 53744-4985
Phone: 608-821-3070 Fax: 608-821-3071 E-Mail: email@example.com