“Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ”
– Pope Saint John Paul II, on the day of his installation as Bishop of Rome on October 22, 1978
Christmas is a time when we remember the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ and reflect on God’s amazing generosity in giving us a savior. It’s a time of joyful celebration and love. Christmas also is a time when many Catholics return to the Church after having been away for a long period of time. They feel a tug in their heart – the Holy Spirit at work – calling them back to renew their spiritual commitment to the Lord. In the spirit of Christ, we welcome all people to be renewed in spirit and truly know they are loved by God. Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, we are all called to seek and find Jesus.
This Christmas, I invite all Catholics and non-Catholics to renew their relationship with Christ by attending Mass at one of the 57 parishes in the Diocese of Orange, or at our Christ Cathedral Campus. As Pope Saint John Paul II proclaimed: “Open wide the doors for Christ!” During my years in the seminary, the Bishop of my then home – Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, Joseph A. McNicholas – would have a campaign of sorts, “Come Home for Christmas.” I would ask you to extend that invitation to folks you know, assuring them they are welcome and that the Lord is waiting for them to come home!
Recently, I have been personally extending this invitation to folks I know. This wondrous time of year, prompts us to reflect on the past, stirring our hearts and calling us back home. It’s an especially relevant time to our parents, grandparents and parish families who recall when they first heard of the birth of Christ.
Let’s also remember that the Christmas season extends well past Christmas Day – all the way to January 13, 2019 – when we celebrate the baptism of Jesus. This would be especially true during “Christmastide,” or the “Octave of Christmas,” from December 25 to January 1. As Catholics, we are fueled and renewed by the spirit of the season and should encourage those who may have once attended Christmas Mass to return again.
On July 17, 2019, Christ Cathedral will be dedicated. The day marks the beginning of another chapter and journey of Faith for our local Church as it transforms into the centerpiece of Catholic life in Orange County. The dedication will be one of the most significant milestones in the life of the Diocese since its establishment in 1976. The spiritual and temporal efforts, in progress since 2013, to make Christ Cathedral a primary focal point of the life, teaching and worship, are aimed at building a deeper unity of purpose and mission among Catholics within our local Church, and a renewed commitment to permeating the world with the love of Christ. As the liturgical heart and center of our Catholic faith, Christ Cathedral promises to be both inspiring and humbling in its profound celebration of God’s magnificence, thus becoming even more a spiritual home where the living God dwells and meets us.
The Diocese of Orange is proud to be a steward of Dr. Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral and his vision that it serve as a beacon of faith and a platform to preach the power of unconditional love, hope and ideas that through belief anything is possible. Many of us remember his inspiring message of Faith to us when the Diocese purchased this property.
Ultimately, by “opening the doors wide to Christ” as Saint John Paul II proclaimed in October of 1978, the dedication of Christ Cathedral offers us yet another opportunity to do just that and to lead others to the Lord.
As you renew your faith journey this holiday season, remember that Christmas is an invitation to rediscover the truth, wonder and mystery of the Catholic faith. It’s our Lord calling you home.
May each of you and your families cherish the joy of this Christmas season. Please be assured of my love and support and prayer for all of you. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful messages which I have already received from so many of you.
Gratefully Yours in Christ,
Most. Rev. Kevin W. Vann
Bishop of Orange