Fr. Mark Withoos: How Awesome This Place

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Photo credit: Fr. Withoos

By Fr. Mark Withoos, Crisis Magazine, January 7, 2020

Fr. Mark Withoos writes from Australia.


Fr. Mark WithoosIn celebrating the centenary of the consecration and dedication to God of the Cathedral of Saints Mary and Joseph, we are in a sense celebrating the 100th anniversary of our cathedral’s “baptism”. At our own baptism we are anointed with sacred chrism and thereby consecrated or set apart for the glory of God and to offer sacrifice to the one true living God. So, too, one hundred years ago today, the magnificent high altar of our cathedral was anointed with chrism and by this anointing was consecrated. From that day forward it has been set apart for the glory of God and for the offering of the perfect sacrifice of praise—the Eucharist—to the one true living God.

It is natural today that we look back to the past, give thanks for the present, and look forward to the future.

The Past: Terribilis est iste locus! How terrible is this place! These were the words chanted in the Latin Gregorian Introit of today’s Mass. In my trusty Latin dictionary, the first definition you will find of terribilis is precisely that: terrible. It does, however, go on to give another meaning—“demanding reverence, venerable…awesome.”

Indeed, how awesome, how venerable is this place! Designed by the architects Sheerin and Hennesy and constructed by Mr. Geoge Nott, when the cathedral opened in 1912, reports spoke glowingly of this great accomplishment for the Catholics of Armidale, NSW, and for their bishop, Patrick Joseph O’Connor.  ….

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