In Your Midst

Celebrating the Great Jubilee Year 2000
at St. James Cathedral

Spring 2000

The spirit of the mighty God
Has come to rest on me;
And his anointing sends me forth
Proclaiming jubilee.

The St. James Cathedral
Jubilee Hymn

At midnight on December 24th, 1999, in a symbolic gesture marking the opening of the Great Jubilee Year 2000, Archbishop Alex J. Brunett knocked with the historic Bishop Augustin Blanchet crosier at the Cathedral’s new ceremonial bronze doors. The doors swung open to reveal a place of beauty and light, with incense, candles, and thousands of the faithful assembled to celebrate the great feast of Christmas. The procession which passed through the doors to join them became an irresistible image of the “pilgrim church” on its journey through time to the heavenly city.
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Keep your eyes on those ceremonial bronze doors throughout this year 2000: they are a richly-illustrated guide to the Great Jubilee, showing both where we have been and where we are headed. The covenant broken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is renewed with Noah’s offering and God’s rainbow, and affirmed in the passage of the chosen people through the Red Sea to the Promised Land. The doors depict the life of Jesus as a journey through ever more intense moments of reconciliation with his people — beginning with his baptism in the Jordan by John, continuing with the healings of the blind man and the paralytic, leading through his triumphant entry into Jerusalem and his betrayal by Judas, and ending under his cross. But sadness is crowned by a vision of the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city where the Lamb of God is risen and alive, and where all the nations of the world find healing and rest.

The poet Dante was among the thousands who journeyed to Rome for the first Jubilee, which began spontaneously at Christmas, 1299. When he came to write his Paradise, the poet could find no better way to describe his sense of wonder at beholding the Tenth Heaven than to recall the moment when, a humble pilgrim, he knelt in gratitude at St. Peter’s Basilica.

For those who can’t get to Rome or Jerusalem during the Jubilee Year, Pope John Paul II has designated the cathedral church of the local diocese as a place of sacred pilgrimage. In response to Father Michael G. Ryan’s call to parishioners to open the Cathedral wide in welcome, we have already greeted thousands of pilgrims during this Jubilee Year. Most memorably, perhaps, we welcomed between 7,000 and 10,000 visitors to St. James when, on January 22, the relics of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus visited the Cathedral. The devout and the curious, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, came together in extraordinary numbers to honor the simple Carmelite nun who teaches that the way to grow in grace is to remain little. A few days later, on February 2, the Cathedral and Auxiliary Bishop George Thomas welcomed more than a hundred women and men religious to the Jubilee of Consecrated Life, which was celebrated on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The Mass began in darkness, with the traditional blessing of candles around the font; then the Religious carried lit tapers throughout the Cathedral, symbolically spreading the light of Christ, the light of the world.

Each weekend during this Jubilee Year, we greet groups of pilgrims from parishes across the Archdiocese, who join us for Vespers and Benediction and whom we remember in prayer at all Sunday Masses. The enthusiasm of these visitors — who are invited to read and serve at Vespers — adds in a wonderful way to the celebration, and helps us to see both the unity and the diversity of this far-flung Archdiocese.

Another way for visitors and parishioners alike to enter into the spirit of Pilgrimage of this Jubilee Year is The Pilgrim Way of St. James. The way begins and ends at the great doors, and leads the pilgrim on a prayerful journey through the Cathedral. Each stage or place of prayer is marked by a shell, the traditional symbol of St. James the Apostle.

Guidebooks (available in the West Vestibule) illuminate each stage of the way with meditations drawn from the writings of the saints of the past 20 centuries, and commentaries on the art of the Cathedral. Even those who know the Cathedral well may find themselves looking at familiar places with new eyes.

The Great Jubilee Year 2000 is a unique moment in time: an opportunity to pause and reflect on our history, and to look forward with jubilation to the heavenly city which crowns our journey. Pope John Paul II writes: “The history of the Church is a living account of an unfinished pilgrimage….in the footsteps of the Redeemer.”

Corinna Laughlin is Coordinator for the Jubilee Year at St. James Cathedral.

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