Readers of this blog might already know that my wife and I are big fans of beautiful churches. From Little Rock on our first day and its Cathedral of St. Andrew which, though not magnificent, still rises to the level of beauty the likes of which architects of recent Catholic churches have not pondered to Prince Edward Island’s St. Dunstan’s Basilica to Denver’s Holy Ghost parish downtown; we have been blessed to take in the sights of one fitting house of worship after another. Some were simple like St. Benedict’s parish in Greensboro — simple yet elegant in her furnishings, purchased by St. Katherine Drexel over a century ago. Some were not so simple like Quebec’s Notre Dame Cathedral, a church so resplendent in ornate touches I wondered whether gold would actually drip from above into my hair and I’d end up a part of a Carpenter’s song. Yet each of these splendid edifices were built by a people who’s love for God was evident in the craftsmanship, the design, and the finishing touches they so lovingly and at great personal cost erected for Him.
And then there was this morning.
DAY 49/This Is How We Do It In the OC
After the incredible day we had yesterday (and for a variety of reasons) I felt like I needed to go to mass this morning. Yes, it’s Saturday and we’ve certainly earned a bit of sleeping in. Still, throughout much of my adult life (and going back to my childhood thanks to my Dad) I have been, with sometimes greater success than others, a daily mass goer. On this trip, not so much. My mother-in-law is usually much better than I at fulfilling this self-imposed obligation. What better person to bring along than she?
I woke around 6AM and, being careful to let the kids and Karla remain untouched by consciousness, grabbed a shower and got dressed. Stepping out into the living room I noticed that Wilma was already awake and ready to go.
This morning we would be worshiping at the cathedral church of the Diocese of Orange, CA. For those not familiar with geography, recent church history, or televangelism, let me enlighten you as to why we chose this church. First, it was literally around the corner from our hotel in Garden Grove. I keep saying Anaheim but I figure they’re close enough. Second, several decades ago a young evangelical pastor named Robert Schuller began operating his “ministries” here. He began with a drive-up church where attendees could simply pull up to a stage and, without getting out of their cars, listen to him preach, a la a drive-in movie. By the 1980’s Schuller’s operation had grown such that he could build a monstrosity of modern architecture called the Crystal Cathedral. The building went up a few yards from his more recent structures on an enormous campus with sprawling and well-manicured lawns. Schuller had made a lot of money preaching the Word to television audiences. His Hour of Power, in particular was a weekly staple in many American homes. I do not want to give the impression that the man was a fraud. In fact, he was good friends with the man he credits as his greatest inspiration – Venerable Fulton Sheen. Sheen came to Crystal Cathedral to preach several times and a bronze statue of him is on the grounds. But by the early 2000’s Schuller’s operation had fallen on hard times and he was forced to sell the glass behemoth.
Enter the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. The diocese, rapidly expanding and running out of space in their own cathedral, bought the property. A name change to “Christ Cathedral” approved by the Vatican, renovations are currently underway to bring the interior of the main building as close to a Catholic house of worship as possible. In the meantime the older “Atrium” building is in use as the current cathedral.
It was here that Wilma, I, and about two hundred others (many Vietnamese) came together to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Other than the spartan design, it was not unlike many other Catholic churches I have been inside. After mass I walked the grounds. The pictures below might bring the whole thing into greater perspective for you.
How’d we spend the rest of our day? Karla and I took our son to an urgent care facility. Remember his hurt ankle? A couple of hundred bucks and an X-ray later we were relieved to discover it was just a sprain. With that weight off our chest we returned to the hotel to spend the rest of the day doing… nothing.
I think we earned it, don’t you? Plus, we’d have to get ready for tomorrow’s event at the home of Therese Peters. I’m very excited. Join us in our next post to see how it went!