Have you visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles? I visited it recently and was taken back at how majestic it is. The building, as expected, was grand and marvelous. It truly made you feel physically small, similar (but not quite) to the feeling you get when you walk into a European cathedral. The thing that stuck out to me the most was the sense of being surrounded by those who have gone before us. And several features demonstrate this, practically warning “lone ranger Christian” who goes on their own. I was reminded again that it’s not just me and Jesus. Instead, it’s we and Jesus.
There is a mausoleum under the floor that holds the remains of many departed saints. From priests to business people, many who have gone on before us will be found in those chambers. Ashes and bones and words of comfort all point to the coming reality when Christ will come again, restoring the saints to renewed life. The reality that he will come again in glory. Those remains serve as a reminder that we are all connected in the historical, catholic Church.
In the main sanctuary, there are tapestries that point out the great “cloud of witnesses” from Hebrews who also had faith in Christ. Our departed brothers and sisters are there to remind us that we are connected to each other. It is similar to looking at a family tree or a photo album. Those tapestries serve as a deliberate reminder that we are rooted in generations of fellow Christ followers and that we are not lone rangers. We are deeply connected to them and they all point us to Christ.
Augustine, Patrick, Catherine of Sienna, and Julian are side by side with Paul, Martha, and Andrew. Depictions of children and adults that represent the faithful (who are just as important in God’s eyes) are also there. While they might not have their names in biographies, they are also present on the walls. You see, we are surrounded by people who have gone on before us. These same people faced tough trials and now rest in the comfort of Jesus. One day I hope to join them. As I wrote about my grandfather last year: he is there, and one day I too will join him and see our Lord face to face. (1)
I hope we can all be there, as we await the bodily resurrection, the life that is to come, and the Kingdom without end.