Cathedral Visit and Reflection Paper

 

 

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is no ordinary building. It appears to have been designed with the intent of portraying the nature of God, as we understand Him limitedly. Its outside beauty is captivating. The light-tan pigmented concrete surface stands out in the daylight. The windows are unique, but even more distinctive are the angles that the building takes. Unlike the traditional right angles we are accustomed to, the Cathedral takes a series of acute and obtuse angles to add to its majestic and complicated appearance. Looking at it, one cannot help but relate this to God.

The architect could have simplified his work by using right angles, but, this would not have depicted God’s ways. God cannot be simplified. As much as we try to understand God, our human minds are unable to grasp his full glory.[1] It is, therefore, a common occurrence for us, Christians, to try and simplify God’s mysterious ways to something that we can understand. Bevans attempts to explain this by quoting Augustine’s words which are, “If you were able to understand, then you understood something else instead of God” (Bevans 11). The unique angles and many facets, in a way, portray the complex nature of God which we cannot fully comprehend.

 

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The walk from the street towards the entrance of the Cathedral is quite lengthy. This is a good thing as it offers a transition from the outside world to the holy place. Along the beautiful path as I approached the entrance, I thought of Moses approaching the burning bush in the Old Testament (New International Bible, Exodus 3. 1-6). I could feel an intuition that I am entering into a holy place. The Cathedral’s interior offers a whole experience of beauty. The natural lighting falls through the unique windows outdoing the electrical lighting. Light is of great importance to Christianity. Jesus said that He is the light of the world (John 8.12). Further back in the book of Exodus when God’s glory had passed by Moses, his face shone as was noticed by the Israelites (Exodus 34.29-30). This suggests that brightness was involved. Similarly in the book of Acts, as Saul was heading to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him in the form of a bright light shining from heaven (Acts 9.3). The Cathedral’s window on the eastern side casts a silhouette of a large concrete cross above the altar. If there is darkness, then this shadow of the cross would not be cast onto the altar. Similarly, God cannot reveal himself to us in darkness. For us to experience His glory then we must open up our hearts and this includes shunning evil. Bevans notes that faith and revelation must go hand in hand (Bevans 27). God cannot reveal himself to one who does not believe in Him and the resurrection of Christ.

The Cathedral’s mausoleum is located one floor beneath. The lighting is achieved through many large stained windows. At the entrance are two beautiful guardian angels’ etchings holding torches. The atmosphere is peaceful as if suggesting the purpose of the mausoleum. In this place, our departed loved ones can find a place to rest in peace due to the numerous crypts and urn spaces. Walking through the mausoleum, my attention was drawn to the various crypts with names on them. The crypts differ from the traditional tombstones we are accustomed to. Their beauty offers a different meaning to death. That it is in a way, beautiful. After all, we, who believe in God, are assured of eternal and everlasting life. It is also a reminder that we do not belong in this world and instead are only passers-by. I realize that Bevan was correct when he stated that one of the ways we experience revelation is through our own life experiences (Bevans 18). In O’Connor’s story,[2] the character, Mrs. Turpin also experiences revelation as she goes through her day activities (O’Connor 122). Through my revelation at the mausoleum, I feel even stronger in my faith in the Lord, knowing that even after death, I shall not perish but rather have everlasting life.

There are many aspects of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels that we can relate to God. Some of these include God’s mysterious ways, revelation by God, and our faith in Him. The Cathedral’s unique and unconventional angles portray God’s enigmatic ways. Other beautiful designs such as the lighting, etchings, and mausoleum offer revelation that can only be attained through faith.

 

Word Count: 786 words

 

Works Cited

Bevans, Stephen B. An introduction to theology in global perspective. Orbis Books, 2009.

O’Connor, Flannery, and Robert Ellsberg. Flannery O’Connor: Spiritual Writings. Orbis Books, 2003.

The Bible. New international version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.

[1] Bevans talks extensively about knowing the unknowable God. See Bevans 10-13.

[2] O’Connor narrates about Mrs. Turpin whose experience at the doctor’s waiting room leads her to a reflection and ultimately, revelation. See O’Connor 99-124

 

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