Friday, April 30, 2010

For Rick

A votive candle burns before the shrine to Our Lady at St. Michael's Cathedral.

I am occasionally asked to bring people’s prayer intentions with me to the Cathedral and to light a candle for them. I am always pleased to do this. And so when I left St. Michael’s after Mass tonight, this votive candle stayed behind - to keep vigil for Rick at the feet of Our Lady in the glorious Cathedral Church of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

St. Catherine of Siena and the Holy Cross

Detail of the Processional Cross used at St. Michael's Cathedral.

I turn me and lean against the most Holy Cross of Christ Crucified, and there I will fasten me. 
- from the Letters of St. Catherine of Siena

Want to tread under foot the wickedness of this world? Pray the Litany of St. Catherine of Siena with her Dominican Sisters today, her feast day!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Tower To Pierce The Clouds

Side view of the steeple of St. Michael's Cathedral

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.  
                               – St. Augustine

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Illumina, Domine, Vultum Tuum Super Nos

This painting of the Holy Face of Jesus hangs at the entrance to the sacristy of St. Michael's Cathedral.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the adorable Face of Thy Beloved Son for the honour and glory of Thy Name, for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of the dying. Amen. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

You Know You Need An Altar Rail When...

The same velvet ropes which keep dweebs like us out of the hottest nightclubs must also keep curious tourists and the mentally infirm out of the Sanctuary.

I have it on *very* good authority that St. Michael’s Cathedral will be getting an altar rail again! Why not support such an excellent project with a donation?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Light of the World

Panel of the painted ceiling in the nave of St. Michael's Cathedral depicting a burning oil lamp.

…I am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life. – John 8:12

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Binding Up Wounds of Body and Soul

Perhaps you have also noticed two Sisters wearing their full, dark, holy habits around the Cathedral this week?  They are physicians and belong to the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. 

 Is this your vocation?

Friday, April 23, 2010

St. Joseph the Worker

Statue of St. Joseph in the nave (gospel side) of St. Michael's Cathedral.

Our Lady’s most chaste spouse holds lilies and a square, representing his purity and trade respectively. Why not place yourself under his special protection on his upcoming feast day (May 1st) and kick it old school with a St. Joseph’s cincture?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Elmsley Family

On the northern wall of the crypt in the basement of St. Michael's Cathedral is a vault dedicated to the Elmsley and King families. The crypt is not open to the public.

Charlotte Elmsley was the wife of Hon. John Elmsley, a prominent  well-connected Anglican. He announced to Bishop MacDonnell in 1833 his unexpected conversion to Catholicism via a heartfelt letter which has been preserved.  Read it in full here along with more on the early history of the Archdiocese.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thinking of Leaving The Catholic Church?

The emergency exit sign next to a side door of St. Michael's Cathedral.

There is little comfort in the visible Church now. The liturgy, set upon by thieves, is lying in the ditch: contemplatives are mouthing political slogans in the streets; nuns have lost their habits along with their virtues, virgins their virginity, confessors their consciences, theologians their minds. And, if this is true, it is a “happy chance!” - because there is absolutely no reason left to be Catholic now except the only one there ever really was - that in the invisible life of the Church you will find the love of Christ.                                    -  John Senior

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Separated Brethren

Metropolitan United (UCC) as seen from the front of St. Michael's Cathedral.

Would that it were Our happy lot to do that which so many of Our predecessors could not, to embrace with fatherly affection those children, whose unhappy separation from Us We now bewail. 
     - Pope Pius XI (Mortalium Animos), 1928

Sacred Chrism

The Sanctum Chrisma (note the abbreviation SC) sits in St. John's Chapel.

Pure oil of olives with an admixture of balsam and blessed by our Archbishop, this sweet smelling chrism glistens on the head and hands of a bishop at his consecration and on the hands of a priest at his ordination.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

You Know What's Next to Cleanliness

Detail of drawers in the sacristy at St. Michael's Cathedral.

The tidy labels visible in this photo range from the traditional (Pyx, Sick Call Set, Rosary) and the modern (Microphone, Batteries) to the delightfully mysterious (Spare Parts and Tools – and my personal favorite - Unknown Keys).

Friday, April 16, 2010

Foresight and Hindsight

 Extra original exterior bricks are stored in the basement of St. Michael's Cathedral.

Foreseeing that repairs would one day be necessary, the builders of St. Michael's Cathedral wisely set aside (more than 160 years ago) extra bricks for future use. Some of these are still stacked in the basement of St. Michael's Cathedral and reveal the original light yellowish (!) colour of the exterior.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In Response to a Recent Query

Why do I receive Holy Communion on the tongue?

I received my first Holy Communion in this manner and have never felt the slightest desire to stop receiving Him in this way.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider's touching answer:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saint Simon the Apostle

A small statue of St. Simon the Apostle (not Simon Peter) in St. Michael's Cathedral.

St. Simon practiced law before receiving his call. He is thus sometimes pictured holding a book or scroll, as here. More distinctively, he rests his hand on the implement associated with his gruesome martyrdom – a saw.

St. Simon, pray that I’ll have a fraction of your zeal.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Power of Pilgrims' Kisses

The faithful have worn away the paint on the foot of this statue of St. Thérèse of Lisieux at St. Michael's Cathedral with their tender touches and reverential kisses.

Catholics (and Orthodox) do not worship statues. We do make use of images of Our Lord and His saints and martyrs. Leontius the Hierapolian explains:

...I do reverence to the image of Christ. Not to the substance of wood and paint - that shall never happen... But, by doing reverence to an inanimate image of Christ, through Him I think to embrace Christ Himself and to do Him reverence... We Christians, by bodily kissing an icon of Christ, or of an apostle or martyr, are in spirit kissing Christ Himself or His martyr.

The flattened toes of the bronze (!) statue of St. Peter in St. Peter's Basilica similarly attest to the power of pilgrims' kisses.

A Natural

His Excellency, Bishop William McGrattan greets parishioners outside St. Michael's Cathedral.

An affable and natural person, His Excellency mixes effortlessly with the faithful who crowd around him after mass.

God is a simple Being in Whom there are no parts. Hence, if we want to become as much like Him as possible, we must strive to become by virtue, what He is by nature, that is, we must be simple in spirit and action, natural in speech and behavior, without sham or deception… - St. Vincent de Paul

Monday, April 12, 2010

Paschal Candle

The 2010 Paschal candle in a darkened St. Michael's Cathedral.

This Paschal candle features the Sacred Heart at the centre of a rather understated cross, the current year (since Christ is with us now), the Alpha and Omega in the upper golden band (since He shall ever be) and the Paschal Lamb in the lower golden band.  Five grains of incense, representing the 5 wounds of Christ, are pressed into the candle with the white nails.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Holy Trinity: The Essence of Our Catholic Faith

Crest in honour of the Holy Trinity hangs in St. John's Chapel (attached to St. Michael's Cathedral).

Fides autem catholica haec est: ut unum Deum in Trinitate, et Trinitatem in unitate veneremur. Neque confundentes personas, neque substantiam seperantes…Ita Deus Pater, Deus Filius, Deus [et] Spiritus Sanctus. Et tamen non tres dii, sed unus est Deus.  The Athanasian Creed

Want to see the mystery of the Holy Trinity a bit more clearly? Stand on the shoulders of Saints Augustine and Boethius.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Papal Portrait

This portrait of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI hangs in the sacristy of St. Michael's Cathedral.

+ Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. +

+ May the Lord preserve him and give him life and make him blessed upon the earth, and not deliver him up to the will of his enemies. +

Via Crucis III

The third of the Stations of the Cross at St. Michael's Cathedral: Jesus falls the first time.

Note the delightful way that the stations echo the gothic-style architecture of the cathedral itself. Each station is a like a little cathedral, topped with a cross, decorated with arches, statuary, quatrefoil, trefoil, etc. 

For more on the Via Crucis at St. Michael's see here and here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pray For Vocations

Members of the St. Michael's Senior Boys' Choir

If no boys from the St. Michael’s Choir School answer a call to the priesthood, it won’t be because I didn’t pray for it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How It's Done:

His Grace, Archbishop Lynch depicted kneeling in a pane of stained glass in the nave of St. Michael's Cathedral.

The [expanded] Latin inscription:

In memoriam Ill[ustrissimi] ac R[eve]R[endissimi] D[omini] D[omini] Joannis 
Joseph Lynch primi Archiepiscopi 
Torontonensis, qui per viginti et 
novem annos magno cum zelo et 
fructu in hac dioecesi laboravit.  
Obiit die XII Maii A[nno] D[omini] MDCCCL XXXVIII.

In memory of the Most Illustrious Most Reverend Lord Lord John Joseph Lynch, the first Archbishop of Toronto, who for twenty-nine years laboured in this diocese with great zeal and fruitfulness.  He died on the 12th day of May in the year of Our Lord 1888.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sacred Heart of Jesus

A painted panel of the ceiling of St. Michael's Cathedral depicting the Sacred Heart. The physical heart of Jesus is a symbol of His divine love.

His Sacred Heart is represented with the instruments of His passion: the crown of thorns, the three nails, the wound from the holy lance. A burning furnace of charity, it shines with divine light.

Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee, have mercy on us.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia!

A carving of the Risen Lord hanging on the wall in the narthex of St. Michael's Cathedral.

Et apparuit Simoni, alleluia!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Haec Nox Est......

A parishioner kneels in prayer at St. Michael's Cathedral.
The stained glass window to her right (not shown) is beautifully reflected on the wall at her left.

At tonight’s long awaited vigil Mass the new fire will be blessed, the Paschal candle lit, and another group of catechumens and candidates will (Deo gratias) be received at last into the heart of Holy Mother Church and admitted to her soul-saving Sacraments. qua, destructis vinculis mortis, Christus ab inferis victor ascendit.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

  Arrestingly stark: the tabernacle is empty, its golden door stands open, the sanctuary lamp which hangs before it is extinguished, and the altars are stripped bare at St. Michael's Cathedral.

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus, et sepultus est.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holy Thursday

Stained glass depiction of the Last Supper 
in the nave at St. Michael's Cathedral

The Last Supper commemorates especially Our Lord’s Institution of the Eucharist.  Jesus is central, the host in his left hand, his right hand in a gesture of blessing, the chalice prominently placed before him. The hanging grapes surrounding the scene similarly emphasize the Precious Blood.  Judas Iscariot, clutching a bag (John 13:29), is separated from Our Lord and from the other Apostles by his position.


Altar server lights 15-candle hearse in preparation for Tenebrae Service at St. Michael's Cathedral.

Sung by current and former choristers of St. Michael’s Choir School and overseen by His Grace, Archbishop Thomas Collins, the Tenebrae service begins with these 15 candles lit.  One by one they are extinguished until a lone candle remains, the light of Christ in the world.  Even this is momentarily hidden, leaving the church in total darkness for the crashing strepitus which recalls the earthquake at Christ’s death.  The candle is re-placed, a sign of His resurrection, and after a few more prayers the congregation slips away into the night.