Bogota, Colombia (Thursday, 08/20/2015, Gaudium Press) In a solemn ceremony on Saturday morning, August 8, the dedication of the church of Our Lady of Fatima of the Heralds of the Gospel, located in Tocancipá, outside Bogota, took place. The celebration was presided by His Excellency, Héctor Cubillos Peña, Bishop of Zipaquira. Approximately 9000 people were in attendance.
|Opening procession – Photo: Ricardo Castelo Branco / Gaudium Press|
The dedication of a church can be compared to a baptism. The ritual originates in the early days of the Church, and one of its main parts is the blessing of the altar, which becomes a symbol of Christ himself, on which the renewal of the sacrifice of the cross takes place. The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” The Eucharist is the centre and summit of the life of the Church, therefore the dedication of a temple is done in pomp and solemnity.
In the entry procession the image of the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima was carried by members of the Heralds into the temple. Along with Bishop Cubillos, several priests, deacons and acolytes joined the procession. The bishop of Zipaquira, holding his shepherd’s staff, gave his blessings to the faithful who had already filled the temple and the surrounding areas. Traditionally the builder presents the keys to the bishop and he handles them on to priest in charge of the temple, in this case it was Reverend Father Carlos Tejedor, EP, Provincial of the Heralds of the Gospel in Colombia.
Homily of Bishop Cubillos Peña
After the readings, which were taken from the book of Nehemiah, Psalm 18, and from the Letter to the Ephesians, and the Gospel of St. John in which Jesus prophesies the reconstruction of the “Temple” from his body in three days – John 2, 10-22, the main celebrant, Bishop Cubillos Peña, gave a heartfelt and moving homily.
The prelate noted that the word “dedication” expressed very well what was being in that ceremony, as a dedication is a ceremony of consecration, in which the Church asks the Lord to take for himself the material work of the church. It is an act of offering to the Lord of a temple, with the particularity that we give to God what He has offered us, something similar to what happens with the offerings of bread end wine at Mass.
“This wonderful and beautiful temple is an offering in which, in turn, the infinitely beautiful gifts of God, will be offered to Him”… “We are full of joy, experiencing the joy of this celebration”…”This material temple is telling us what we are ourselves, spiritual temples of Christ”, he said.
“The temple has a centre,” noted Bishop Cubillos, “that centre is the altar, the table where the food of eternal life is served”…”The altar also “reminds us of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross”… “The altar is the symbol of Christ the Lord and Christ must be the centre of everything. Christ is truth, Christ is love… W are called to be Christ for ourselves and for the world, and that is what the altar represents.”
Another feature of the mass of dedication is the placing the relics on the altar, which is done after the Litany of all Saints. Below the altar, or rather on an opening of the altar upper slab, the relics of Spanish martyrs, Carmelite saints and patron saints of the Heralds of the Gospel, were placed.
Prayer of dedication, anointing and incensing of the altar
After placing relics, prayer of dedication followed. “Here the waters of divine grace cover the sins of men … Here the faithful around the table of the altar celebrate the memorial of the Passover … Here the poor find mercy, the oppressed obtain true freedom and all men are clothed with the dignity of your children, until they arrive, full of joy, to the heavenly Jerusalem” read the prayer of the dedication of the altar.
The altar is anointed with chrism, the holy oil with which kings, priests and popes are anointed. Once anointed, the altar becomes the symbol of Jesus Christ the Redeemer, the “Anointed” par excellence, who on the altar offers the sacrifice of his life, and becomes the perfect victim for the salvation of the people.
|Bishop Cubillos Pena gives the keys of the church
to Rev. Fr. Carlos Tejedor, EP
After the anointing comes one of the most exciting moments of the ceremony, a large silver bowl containing coals is offered to the celebrant, who pores rich and fragrant incense. A large column of aromatic smoke rises up as a prayer going up to heaven and signifying the sacrifice of Christ that rises to the Eternal Father, the redeeming sacrifice offered for the atonement of sins, the hope of all faithful. Priests with incense thuribles went through the narrow aisles carrying that same incense to all corners of the temple.
The Hallelujah from Handel’s Messiah, marked the end of the ceremony, expressing joy and gratitude to God for this new place of blessings.
Slowly, and almost with no real desire, the faithful were leaving the temple. Those who have been outside replaced those who were inside to grasp the feelings of what had just happened.
Opening procession – Photo: Ricardo Castelo Branco / Gaudium Press
Bishop Cubillos Pena gives the keys of the church to Rev. Fr. Carlos Tejedor, EP