Monday, July 22, 2019

Wheel(ing) In Motion

(Updated with developments.)

So, after an epic week out West, this scribe was looking to come home and finally ease into something of a summer – a gift which eluded us last year....

Alas, three days after a historic set of sanctions on a US prelate, not so much:

Ergo, here comes another long night in the shop... and lest anyone forgot, as the work has its bills – even before the overtime of this latest curveball – as ever, Whispers can only keep coming your way thanks to your support:

Once things fully calm down, the donors are owed a good, long behind the scenes briefing. For now, all thanks – and, welp, here we go again.

See you early.

SVILUPPO: And just as quickly as it began, there goes the night.
Summarizing the broad shock among Whispers ops over the reported Wheeling pick, one ranking cleric – who's long known the choice as "a very shy, pastoral, quiet, holy priest" – sent this scribe three letters on seeing the news....


Asked to explain the sentiment, the op replied that – given the roiled scene amid a year-long drip over Bransfield's moral and fiscal turpitude – he felt Brennan might just be "in over his head."

That's one way of sizing up the scene, and no shortage of others have echoed it tonight.... Yet on the other hand, living history can recall several instances of an "old man in a hurry" with nothing to lose – above all, a Pope elected at 76, who's now brought this move to pass.

As for which one it'll be, we'll have our answer in the morning.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

"The Hour of Power," Roman Edition

CHRIST CATHEDRAL, ORANGE COUNTY – "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad."

For a quarter-century, that verse of the Psalmist was Dr Robert Schuller's sign-on from this crystal sanctuary as he began his Sunday broadcasts across the globe... and now, it's fitting to return to it on this day, as one of American Christianity's most prominent and cherished venues begins its second incarnation as a Catholic church and the seat of this 1.5 million-member diocese, now one of the US' ten largest.

Beginning with a 10am local pre-show, here's the livefeed:

The most complex ecclesial rite of all, the Dedication Mass is expected to run approximately three hours.

While today's grand opening marks the fifth launch of a Stateside cathedral since 2008, you'd have to go back even further to find one as significant as this: to September 2, 2002, when the debut of Los Angeles' $190 million, 5,000-seat Our Lady of the Angels altered the Downtown landscape of the nation's Western hub, likewise signaling the culmination of the LA church's rapid emergence as the largest fold American Catholicism has ever known.

On another context note, only after this date was set in 2017 did the locals realize a "magical" confluence of events – as it happens, today marks the 64th anniversary of the opening of the even better-known shrine down the street: Disneyland.

Ergo, it's doubly meaningful that – as with the respective cathedral anniversary of each local church – every July 17th in Orange will be marked as a proper feast, with the texts of the Dedication Mass employed that day across the diocese.

In a rarity for a new diocesan seat on its Opening Day, the wider community will get its first chance to enter Christ Cathedral tonight; with all 2,100 seats (and 1,000 overflow spots) all long taken for this morning's rites, the general public is invited to see the space for themselves from 5-8pm, while an open-air festival takes place in the plaza outside.

And with that, it's been a long wait – away we go.


The Crown Jewel – Today in The OC, The Church Comes Home

“Holy is the Church,
the chosen vine of the Lord,
whose branches fill the whole world,
and whose tendrils, borne on the wood of the Cross,
reach upward to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed is the Church,
God’s dwelling-place with the human race, a holy temple built of living stones,
standing upon the foundation of the Apostles with Christ Jesus its chief cornerstone.

Exalted is the Church,
a City set high on a mountain for all to see, resplendent to every eye
with the unfading light of the Lamb,
and resounding with the sweet hymn of the Saints....
CHRIST CATHEDRAL, ORANGE COUNTY – Once upon a time in America, a Catholic bishop and a secular architect joined forces to envision a radical concept in church design: a temple open to the world around it through the use of clear glass.

The materials sent a message – the Church need not shelter itself behind its imported encrustations, keeping the pluralistic, free society outside at bay… If anything, in this unique setting, she came with an open hand to take her place among the community at large, to help build it up and make it thrive. In sum, the place was meant to say in structure that God’s People had nothing to fear from daylight.

In its original sense, this idea doesn’t refer to what’s happening now, but to the Cathedral of the Assumption in Baltimore – built by the founding Bishop John Carroll and the Capitol designer Benjamin Latrobe, the nation’s first diocesan seat, and the one place every American Catholic can genuinely call home. And today, on the eve of the Assumption’s bicentennial, in the heart of the largest province Carroll’s heirs have ever known, his vision has met its match.

Forty-three years ago, when Rome spun off Orange County from the mothership of Los Angeles as its own local church, the one-county see numbered some 350,000 members. Now become the nation’s sixth-largest civic seat, its Catholic population has boomed to almost five times that. Yet even as it erupted into one of the Stateside church’s densest and most diverse outposts – bigger than Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia and Seattle among others – the diocese has been an ecclesial nomad, the downtown parish-turned-bishop’s seat quickly overwhelmed by the rapid growth, its major events subsequently imposing by need on its already hectic larger parishes. But today, at last, they’ve now got a “common home” to call their own – one explicitly intended from its birth to emphasize man’s intrinsic link to the creation around him.

To be sure, Orange’s fire-sale acquisition of the Crystal Cathedral and its 33-acre campus has been a failsafe conversation-starter in US church circles ever since the diocese emerged victorious from the 2011 court-fight over the prime property a mile from Disneyland. Regardless, as the long, sometimes challenging journey to today gradually began to bear fruit – first in giving the diocese a ready-made nerve-center in rapid order, then becoming an ad intra “destination” in ways the previously envisioned built-from-scratch compound in Santa Ana never could’ve dreamt of being, it’s become increasingly clear to the locals that this most unlikely of moves has been, as many here have said through the years, no less than “an act of providence.” (Indeed, on handing his creation over to the Orange church, the Crystal’s builder, Dr. Robert Schuller, told then-Bishop Tod Brown and his priests of his longtime hope “that this place would someday return to the mother church.”)

Given the worldwide outpouring of shock and grief upon the Holy Week fire at Notre-Dame, it’s curious that some folks still wonder why cathedrals are necessary. Clearly, their great-grandparents and beyond who sacrificed their pennies to build them felt rather differently. Here, the folks have waited for this day, they’ve believed in it, and even grown some more along the way – already, the dozen weekend liturgies in the 1,000-seat temporary “parish” invariably swamp the space, and with the 2,100-seat centerpiece now complete (in a place where the average parish comprises ten times that number), it’s a pretty safe bet that the regulars won’t be able to count on too much stretching space for long.

All that said, the decade of planning and renderings has come to an end, and it's time for the "Hour of Power" – the Mass of Dedication of Christ Cathedral begins at 10.30am local (1.30pm Eastern, 1930 Rome) today, and you can find the livefeed here at that hour.

To Bishop Kevin Vann and his top-shelf crew, who’ve devoted untold hours over these many years to reach this moment, kudos on a job well-done – thanks to all of you, today, this “periphery” of the City of Angels is the center of the American Church.

SVILUPPO: Livefeed link, etc.