Thursday, January 25, 2018


Awesome (in its authentic - not its frivolously contemporary - meaning) is the right word to describe the interior of our new soon-to-be-dedicated diocesan cathedral, which I and some others took a tour of today - awesome as in the traditional Introit of of the Mass for the Dedication of a Church (cf.Genesis 28:17): Terribilis est locus iste; hic domus Dei est, et porta caeli; et vocabitur aula Dei. ("Awesome is this place; this is the house of God, and the gate of heaven, and it will be called the hall of God." 

In an era when so many public buildings - including far too many contemporary churches – are better known for their banality and ugliness than for their beauty and dignity, it is a true joy to experience Knoxville’s glorious new cathedral, designed and built so as to leave no doubt as to its purpose and the solemnity and importance of what takes place inside it.

This is immediately apparent when one first looks down the nave from the narthex (the liturgical "west") to the sanctuary, or when one looks up from the sanctuary at the dome, or when one looks again down the nave to the sanctuary but this time from up in the choir loft, or when one stands in the sanctuary and admires the Tabernacle beautifully set in the apse (the liturgical "east."). The bishop's cathedra is located in its traditional location on the "gospel" side (the liturgical "north"), while the pulpit faces out into the nave from its traditional (for cathedrals) location on the "epistle" side. Naturally I was eager to try it out!

Leaving this glorious new temple of the Lord, I was reminded of these words of the great Saint Augustine (354-430)if our minds be faithful and attentive, and our lives just and holy, all that is done in temples made with hands will be fulfilled in a spiritual building also within us (Sermon 252). 

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