In Your Midst

A Year of Prayer and Renewal

July 2006

   The Year in Review... and what's still to come

Images from a Year of Prayer and Renewal. FROM THE TOP: Holy Week begins as Archbishop Brunett blesses the palms in the Archbishop Murphy Courtyard.  The Parish Pilgrimage got close to the Holy Father in Rome. (Cathedral Cantor Stacey Sunde snapped this photo of Pope Benedict XVI!) The year began with our parish commitment and renewal of Baptismal Promises at all Masses on the great feast of Christ the King. Archbishop Hunthausen leads the parish in our memorable retreat on the Vigil of Pentecost.

    Last November 20, on the feast of Christ the King, we began the second year of our three-year Centennial celebration – a Year of Prayer and Renewal. What was our goal? To prepare for the hundredth anniversary of this great house of prayer with nothing less than a spiritual renovation of our parish community. As Father Ryan said in his homily that day, “eleven years ago we splendidly renewed this cathedral and very recently we have renewed other buildings on this hilltop, but the most important renewal must be our own. And our renewal can come about only through prayer: through our being here each week to celebrate the Eucharist. Nothing is more important than that. Nothing! … We are a good parish, a strong parish, but we have room to grow. We do. Our faith needs deepening—I know mine does—and so does our relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    During the weeks and months that have followed, we as a parish community have sought to deepen our prayer lives through our regular participation in the Sunday Eucharist, and through a variety of special events and programs. It seems like a good time to take a backward glance at where we’ve been—and at what’s still to come!

    On December 8, 2005, the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Archbishop Hunthausen spent a memorable evening with us, sharing his memories and reflections on that great moment in the modern Church. The historic gathering of the world’s bishops for discussion, debate, and decision has shaped every aspect of our Catholic lives since. The Council has helped laypeople to understand their baptismal call, and to enter more fully into their dignity as members of the royal priesthood of the baptized. The Council is not over, as Archbishop Hunthausen reminded us. Its work has only just begun. “If we want to see the success of the Council, then we must pray for the Spirit to come more fully into our lives and into the Church.”

    Lent, always the ideal season for spiritual renewal, was an especially important time in our Year of Prayer and Renewal. There was a parish pilgrimage to Rome, and a pilgrimage at home as well, for those who were not so fortunate as to be traveling to Italy! Through a special prayer book, a place of prayer, and the Cathedral’s website, “pilgrims-at-home” were able to connect with “pilgrims-to-Rome” throughout the nine-day journey that took the Cathedral Choir and more than 100 other pilgrims to Padua, Florence, Assisi, and, of course, Rome. (You can still follow their adventures and view dozens of photos at the pilgrimage page.)

    Lent in the Year of Prayer and Renewal also marked a Cathedral first, a Day of Reconciliation, with priest confessors available in the Cathedral throughout the afternoon. Ten priests and about 200 parishioners joined to celebrate the sacrament of God’s mercy and forgiveness in preparation for the great feast of Easter.

    The Sacred Triduum of the Lord is always the high point of the Church’s year. There is nothing more important we do as a parish community than our annual commemoration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ during Holy Week. In this Year of Prayer and Renewal, we were especially blessed by the presence of Father Jan Lambrecht SJ, of Louvain, Belgium, who powerfully preached the word to us at the traditional Tre Ore service on Good Friday.

    In the early Church, the weeks between Easter and Pentecost were the privileged time for learning about the faith. In this Year of Prayer and Renewal, we joined in that tradition as we explored the “Mystery of Faith.” Through special inserts in each week’s bulletin, and spoken meditations at Sunday liturgies, we slowed down to reflect on our greatest prayer, the Mass. From the procession that gathers us together as the body of Christ, to the dismissal that sends us forth to do Christ’s work in our world, the Mass is an amazing prayer, which we all too often take for granted.

    The series helped to prepare us for our parish retreat with Archbishop Hunthausen on the eve of Pentecost. For the 250 parishioners who participated in that day of reflection, the Spirit’s presence was almost palpable!

    Those are just some of the places we’ve been in this Year of Prayer and Renewal. And there’s more to come. On Sunday, July 23, we celebrate our patronal feast, and this year we also have the opportunity to celebrate with Father Ryan the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. In August, another special series in the weekly bulletin will explore different facets of prayer, our “bread of life.” And from October 4-7, we will be privileged to welcome to Seattle once again Brother John of Taizé, who will lead us in some days of prayer and reflection.

    In his homily for Pentecost Sunday on June 4, Father Ryan asked, “My question is: come Advent, when this Year of Renewal ends, will we be any different?... Will we be a stronger parish? A holier parish? More aware and alive in our prayer? More attuned to the works of the Spirit? More engaged with one another? More committed to the poor? More passionate for justice? More outspoken for justice? More aware of all that our Baptism calls us to?... This day of Pentecost is a good day to be asking such questions and a good day to be trying to answer them, too. The Spirit unleashed on the infant Church on Pentecost is still lighting fires, still shaking the foundations, still working wonders.”

    May we enter the Centennial Year of St. James Cathedral with minds and hearts renewed. May every member of this parish be ready to open wide the doors of our Cathedral to pilgrims and visitors, to friends and strangers, that all who come here might find the grace, peace, and hope which we have found in this great Cathedral!

Corinna Laughlin is the Director of Liturgy at St. James Cathedral.

Back to the July 2006 Issue of In Your Midst