I wrote this several years ago when I lived in a different diocese. Today, the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, I felt inspired to post it. There is a photo of a beautiful baptismal font.
I prayed for two particular intentions yesterday. These were intercessions on behalf of others. One was for peace and healing of those affected by a tragedy that happened in one of our local elementary schools. The other was that a young person, whom I know, would be successful during a very competitive interview for a promising career. I was inspired to offer my daily Mass and a rosary for these intentions. Furthermore, I decided I would go to our Cathedral, rather than my local parish or the local Carmelite Nuns chapel, for this purpose. This was going to be a mini pilgrimage to a holy place.
Now, I don’t believe it’s possible to manipulate God through prayer. But God does encourage us to pray for our needs and the needs of others. (See Luke 11:9-10 and/or The Lord’s Prayer.) I also think that God would be willing to respond to my requests, whether or not I went to the Cathedral. The mini pilgrimage was motivated by my desire to demonstrate my earnestness to God and even to myself, by doing something, not so much difficult, but something special that required more than my usual effort.
The name of our cathedral is the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. I attended the noon Mass, which was followed by the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where the Eucharist is reserved. After prayers I took some photos which I will share here.
This is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, a space for private devotion to the Eucharist. It also serves for extra seating when there is an over flow crowd in the main body of the church.
It is the most sacred area in the cathedral. Inside the baldacchino, the structure of white columns, is a tabernacle, the place where the consecrated Eucharist is reserved. After the Mass I attended, the cathedral rector, Fr. James Murphy, placed a host in the monstrance, the cross-like structure in front of the tabernacle.
While I was there we prayed the rosary and then the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I took the photo as I was leaving.
This view of the chapel shows the sanctuary lamp that is suspended from above. When the Blessed Sacrament is in the tabernacle this lamp is lit perpetually day and night. The only time the tabernacle is empty and the light is extinguished in after Holy Thursday Mass and all day on Good Friday and Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil Mass. This is true of all Catholic churches, not just cathedrals.
This is one of the side chapels of the cathedral. The center panel show St. Juan Diego kneeling and Our Lady of Guadelupe as she appeared to Juan Diego in the 1600s in Mexico City.
The other figures are of saints from North and South America. I’ll name them for anyone interested.
Left side, top to bottom: St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin de Porres, St. Peter Claver, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, St. Miguel Febres Cordero Munoz, and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.
Right side, top to bottom: St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Bl. Junipero Serra, St. Toribio Romo Gonzalez, St. John Neumann, St. Damien of Molokai (Hawaii), and St. Katharine Drexel. And the blank panel is for YOU, when you reach sainthood!!!!
This is a view of the altar taken from the left side of the cathedral. There is a good view of the organ and the area where the choir sings. The windows actually are stained glass, but the sun was so bright that they look clear.
This is the Chapel of the Resurrection on the right side of the cathedral. One can see the crucified Jesus and above the resurrected Christ surrounded by angels in heaven.
The men to the left of the crucifix are those who suffered martyrdom:
Top: St. John de Brebeuf and St. Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila
Middle: St. Augustine Zhao Rong, St. Andrew Kim Taegon
Bottom two: Bl. Miguel Augustine Pro, one of the Mexican Cristeros, and St. Charles Lwanga.
The men and girl on the right side of the crucifix are also martyrs:
Top: St. Paul Miki, St. Thomas More
Middle: St. Maria Goretti and St. Andrew Dung-Lac.
Bottom: St. Maximillian Kolbe
This dome is above the main altar in the cathedral. The dome’s oculus (eye) is a dove representing the Holy Spirit. My photo doesn’t show the dove clearly because the noonday sun was too bright.
The sides of the dome have sixteen roundels that illustrate Eucharistic themes from the Old and New Testament. Below each roundel near the base of the dome is the scripture passage.
This view of the dome shows two of the four corners adjacent to the dome. Each corner symbolizes one of the four evangelists. Here are St. Mark, left, and St. John, right.
Suspended from the dome and above the main altar is the crucifix. It is 13 feet high and the circle above it is 14 feet in diameter. Aircraft cables hold it in place.
This is the view of the cathedral nave and sanctuary that I took from near the back of the church. All the features I’ve mentioned above are visible here: The altar, behind it the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, to the left and right the other chapels. Above, are the dome and the crucifix. This view also shows the church lights and the pews.
This is a view of the baptistery, which has a pool and a font. The lady has dipped her bottle in the font to fill it with holy water; that is, water that has been blessed by a priest or deacon. It is a Catholic custom to bless oneself (make the sign of the cross) with holy water upon entering a church as a way of remembering our baptism with a hint of purifying oneself before approaching the holy presence of God. That’s why this is located near the church doors, which you can see behind.
People take holy water home, like this woman is doing, to use as a sacramental. I, myself, have a small container of holy water near the chair where I like to pray.
Another interesting tidbit is that the holy water blessing ritual includes exorcisms and blessed salt.
This is the pool part of the baptistery with a beautiful mosaic. The mosaic symbolizes the light and life emanating from Christ. Light and life are the gifts of baptism.
There are many beautiful stained glass windows in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. These don’t show up too well in my photos, partly because I’m an amateur, but mostly because it was too sunny.
The centerpiece window here shows Jesus at the Last Supper with his apostles when he instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, which we call Eucharist. This window is quite fitting for a church named for the Blessed Sacrament.
It is considered the most valuable stained glass window in Sacramento. It was made in Innsbruck, Austria, a place well-known as a center for art-glass manufacturing. It was donated as are many of the cathedral furnishings.
The smaller windows show other events in the life of Christ.
Left: the Nativity or birth of Christ in Bethlehem
Right: the Ascension
These windows are located in the back of the apse, which is the part of the church where the altar is located.
This ends my mini tour of our diocesan cathedral. It is very beautiful and conducive to prayer. There are many features that I didn’t include, but you can go to the cathedral website and see other photos in the tour guide, and they are professional. The Sacramento Bee has something interesting, too, a panoramic view that moves so you can view every nook! It’s breathtaking, but takes a while to download.