The Cathedral in the City

This evening [last December] I attended Vespers and Benediction. I am stunned over the attendance. This evening was my third liturgical event in the Cathedral and my thoughts turned to my mother. She was with me in the summer of 1988 when she first saw the Cologne Cathedral. It was emotional for her because it was one of the last things her mother saw when she left Germany as a young teenager in the 1890s. My mother said her mother would tell her how beautiful it was and one day she would see the Cathedral. At these liturgical services I was thinking that my grandmother worshipped here since she lived in Cologne. I would look at the arches and art work and altars and think my grandmother looked at these same arches and art work and altars. Then thought how wonderful it would be if my grandmother could walk the streets of Cologne with me, knowing her love for her city.

As I was walking to my final reconstructed church I thought I wished my grandmother could be here to tell me what it was like when she saw them as a child. She could tell me the crucifix on the south wall of the church used to be on the rood screen and many other stories of the art salvaged from the wreckage

Gothic altar.

In my daydreaming I suddenly remembered that my mother said her mother always wanted to go back to Germany for a visit but after the war lost all desire do so. I never understood that but walking in the very small old city visiting all the Romanesque churches and looking at the pictures of before and after the bombings I understood. The city of her childhood that she loved had been reduced to rubble. Her Cologne no longer existed. I look at pictures of Cologne from 1875, the year of her birth, and yes it no longer exists. A modern city has emerged. Yet those churches so painstakingly reconstructed are an anchor in the past.


O Magnum Mysterium

During the 12 days of Christmas, we commemorate the great mystery, the Magnum Mysterium. The O Magnum Mysterium is a sublime chant that through the centuries many composers have set to music because indeed it speaks about the the mystery of the Incarnation. The unity of the seasons is spoken of so beautifully in this sublime text.

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.