31 August 2010

St. Joseph's Cathedral (San Diego, CA)

I visited St. Joseph’s Cathedral two weekends ago with my parents while we were vacationing in San Diego (Sorry, I'm still playing catch-up here!). St. Joseph's is located on Third Avenue in downtown San Diego and houses the seat of  Bishop Robert Brom of the San Diego Diocese. 

I thought I would get to see a beautiful church, but it was undergoing renovations, and scaffolding covered most of the outside of the building. It appeared to be a mission-style church, but I didn’t really get a good look at it. Once inside, the building was pretty, but unconventional. It seemed quite narrow for a church of its size and length. A series of skinny columns made up a colonnade leading to the altar. In most churches that attempt to imitate the Gothic style, there is a single, semi-circular wall behind the altar. St. Joseph’s had three walls coming together at 90° angles. Maybe I’m starting to get too picky, but I thought it was weird-looking. I did, however, like the wooden cross beams near the ceiling of the church and my mom especially liked the stained glass.

Father Gil, a visiting priest, gave a homily about salvation. Catholics, he said, believe in a universal invitation to salvation. It is the responsibility of the individual, however, to respond to that invitation. He encouraged his parish to accept this invitation by having faith in Jesus. He also said that “sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car, and sitting in church doesn’t make you a Christian.”


He who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted. Millions of people are being displaced by the floods in Pakistan. I know money's tight for everyone right now, but please consider making a donation to the United Nations Childrens Fund here


Drawing of St. Joseph's Cathedral (Not done by me...ha ha)

A little disappointing...

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30 August 2010

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (Los Angeles, CA)

I wanted to make sure that I visited the Cathedral of Our Angels before I left California. It’s a beautiful, modern church right in downtown Los Angeles. My good friend Todd agreed to come with me again.

My grandfather says that the Cathedral reminds him of a fortress, and I certainly see where he’s coming from. A series of walls surrounds a large courtyard, with the imposing church building serving as a castle. The church is not modeled after a Gothic cathedral or a Spanish mission; the modern architecture reminded me more of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  It had tall, sheer walls without a lot of decoration on them, other than tapestries of the saints along the sides of the church. A large stone cross appears to pop out of a window near the roof of the building. I really can’t give you an accurate description, you’ll just have to take a look at my pictures below. It was truly an awe-inspiring modern Cathedral, complete with a powerful organ and a brilliant choir. I imagine that my feeling of reverence was similar to what medieval worshippers felt when they walked into the great cathedrals of Europe.

The Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Los Angeles, who manages the largest Roman Catholic Archdiocese in the United States. The position is currently held by Cardinal Roger Mahony, but Pope Benedict has appointed Bishop Jose Gomez as his successor. Gomez is currently serving as Co-adjutor Bishop of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, which is something like a “co-bishop” position (He is still slightly lower in stature than Cardinal Mahony). Gomez will be the first Hispanic Archbishop of Los Angeles and the highest-ranking Hispanic bishop in the United States.

Todd and I were lucky enough to see Bishop Gomez give the Mass on the Celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Bishop Gomez emphasized Mary’s special position in the relationship between man and God. He said that she symbolized humility and our own hope of resurrection. He also talked about his personal relationship with Mary, saying that he went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadelupe in Mexico City when he was first appointed to become Archbishop.


Over 15 million people are being affected by floods in Pakistan. These people need our help. Click here to donate to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).   

Bishop Gomez walked right in front of our seats!

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10 August 2010

St. Charles Borromeo Church

I’ll start this post off by saying that one of the first and biggest fans of this blog has been one of the priests at my home parish, Father Blaise. When I came home for the summer, I asked him which local churches might be good to visit, and he suggested St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood. When my friend Todd’s parents also recommended the church, I knew I had to go. I got my mother to come along with me to the 10 AM Mass.

St. Charles is somewhat of a legendary church in the Southland. It’s been home to a few celebrities over the years, including the late Bob Hope, whose memorial service was held there. The church building, finished in 1959, attempts to recreate the Spanish mission style, with a carved stone exterior and large bell tower. The interior of the church was enormous, with a large dome at the center. While the other domes I’ve seen, like at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Shrine of the Sacred Heart had colorful mosaics or illustrations inside the dome, this one was bare. In fact, most of the walls around the church were undecorated. The church felt half-finished, as if the pews and the large wooden structure behind the altar were dropped into some sort of medieval warehouse. After Mass, I learned that the parish was trying to raise money for a multi-million dollar restoration of the church building, including decorating the central dome.

The Mass was nice. A deep-voiced male cantor was accompanied by the organ. The priests had an international flavor: Father Patrick was an Irish priest who had come to visit for the summer, and he introduced another priest visiting from India. In today’s reading, Father Patrick said, Jesus teaches us to be vigilant in the practice of our faith, just as we are vigilant during the night time. He said that one way to do this was to be sure to receive the holy sacraments (Can you name all seven? Answer below.), contrasting the “darkness of night” with the “light of the sacraments.”

Interesting L.A. Times Article on the failures of American Christianity...Do you agree with the author? Leave your comments below!
St. Charles Borromeo Website


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Answer: The Seven Catholic Sacraments are Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation (or Penance or Confession), Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders (or Ordination), and Anointing of the Sick.

03 August 2010

Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Newhall, CA)

This Sunday, my friend and former high school drama teacher, Steve, invited me to his parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, to watch him and his wife lector during Mass. Our Lady of Perpetual Help isn’t too far away from me, but I had never bothered to visit before, so I gladly accepted.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help (or “OLPH”) is considerably older than my parish, Blessed Kateri, and is located in Newhall, the oldest section of the now heavily-developed Santa Clarita Valley. While the church wasn’t run down, it wasn’t magnificent architecturally. I found the face of the church interesting because of its large mosaic and tile covering, which I typically associate with Greek Orthodox Churches. They are currently trying to raise money to build a new church building.

A very well-trained young man served as the cantor, accompanied at different times by a piano, guitar, and organ. Steve, and his wife Cheri both did an excellent job as lectors. Cheri delivered a condemnation of “vanities” from the Book of Ecclesiastes and Steve read a letter from St. Paul telling the Colossians to “put to death the parts of you that are earthly.” The newly ordained priest, Father Raymond, delivered a nice sermon on the theme of vanity. He criticized a bumper sticker that read, “Whoever has the most toys when they die WINS,” arguing that a person with many toys still dies, and that this person has the most to lose by dying. He encouraged his parishioners to caution themselves when tempted to buy unnecessary items, and to ask themselves, “what good will all these things do when we die?” What matters, he said, are our relationships with God and each other.

I've added a few new features to the blog, in case you haven't noticed! Recommendations? Questions? Shoot me an email at capitolcatholic@gmail.com. 



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