Archbishop Cordileone’s first Holy Hour overflows location

Cathedral chapel too small for attendees


Interior of St. Mary cathedral

Interior of St. Mary cathedraOn Sunday, January 30, San Francisco’s new archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, hosted the first in series of Holy Hours for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty in the city’s St. Mary’s Cathedral. The Holy Hours will be held on the last Sunday of each month throughout the Holy Father’s Year of Faith.  The Year of Faith began on 11 October, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, and will conclude on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King.

In his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei—For the Indiction of the Year of Faith Pope Benedict outlined his reason for proclaiming the year: “Ever since the start of my ministry as successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ. During the homily at the Mass marking the inauguration of my pontificate I said: ‘The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.’… We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden.”

Following the Holy Father’s instructions, the United States bishops came up with a number of initiatives. They include Archbishop Cordileone’s letter, a “Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty,”  which is “…essentially a call to prayer, penance, and sacrifice for the sake of renewing a culture of life, marriage, and religious liberty in our country.” The letter lists five ways to participate, one of which is to attend just such a Holy Hour as the archbishop was leading. The other four are: to abstain from meat or fast on Fridays; to pray the rosary daily; to participate in the June-July 2013 Fortnight for Religious Freedom; and, for pastors, to include specific prayers for life, marriage, and religious liberty in the Sunday Prayers of the Faithful.

The first Holy Hour at St. Mary’s Cathedral was held in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the area in the cathedral where the altar of repose is located. At least 100 of the faithful were in attendance, including members of the Missionaries of Charity, recognizable by their habits. Other religious sisters, (including Sr. Mary Ignatius, who earned a moment of fame last year as “the texting nun” when a picture of her checking her smartphone at an anti-HHS Mandate Rally went semi-viral) were there. The chapel, an open space in the cathedral, has kneelers for about 40-50 persons. All were filled for the Holy Hour, resulting in at least as many of the faithful being forced to sit and kneel in pews in the cathedral’s nave. Unfortunately, given the architecture of the cathedral, the pews face more towards the main altar than the tabernacle, so that the faithful had to twist around in the pews to face the Blessed Sacrament and the archbishop. Given this configuration, and the number of the faithful who attended the Holy Hour, which may have been a surprise, the cathedral staff may want to consider exposing the Blessed Sacrament at the main altar for future Holy Hours.

At exposition, “O Salutaris Hostia” was sung. In addition to the presence of so many sisters, who are generally good singers, members of the cathedral’s superb choir were in attendance, and the hymn was beautiful. The reading was Deuteronomy 30:15-20: “Choose Life.” Following the reading, the archbishop gave a short homily, stressing that a respect for all life, a recognition of the unique condition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman producing children, and the respect for religious liberty are necessary conditions for a healthy society. He noted that it was no accident that that the founding fathers of the United States understood this, nor was it an accident that they thought that without a virtuous people democracy is not possible.

The homily was followed by a period of silent contemplation, then a recitation of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Each decade was preceded with a reading from the Gospel, followed by a reflection on the reading by Father John Talesfore, the cathedral’s rector. Archbishop Cordileone then led his flock in the rosary.

At Benediction, the faithful sang the “Tantum Ergo.” Holy Hour closed with the hymn “Holy God We Praise Thy Name.”

To add a comment, click on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ icons OR go further down to the bottom of comments to the Post your comment box.


  1. Thomas Edward Miles says:

    A wonderful idea, only good will will arise from this form of prayer! A prayer filled 2013 to all.

  2. Father Karl says:

    God bless Archbishop Cordileone for this. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen stressed the importance of a holy hour. Hopefully His Excellency will be able to turn things around in San Francisco. With prayer, all things are possible, and it seems the Archbishop is on the right track.

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you Pope Benedict XVI. Thank you Archbishop Cordileone for listening to the Holy Father’s wisdom in trying to “lead many out of the desert towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.”

      Thank you also Father Karl for reminding us of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s stressing the importance of a holy hour. The following story is related in Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s book, ‘St. Theresa A Treasured Love Story.’

      Chinese Eucharistic Martyr inspired Archbishop Fulton Sheen to pray his Holy Hour

      During China’s 1911 Republican Revolution or the earlier Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), anti-Catholic militants seized a Catholic parish. They confined the pastor to house arrest. From his rectory window he witnessed the desecration of the Church. He knew that there had been thirty-two consecrated hosts in the tabernacle. An eleven year old girl was praying at the back of the church and the guards either did not see her or else paid no attention to her. She returned to the Church that night and made a Holy Hour and then consumed one of the sacred hosts, bending down to receive Jesus on her tongue. She continued to return every night, making a nightly Holy Hour and consuming one sacred host. On the last night, the thirty-second night, unfortunately a guard was awakened after she consumed the sacred host. He chased her, grabbed her, and beat her to death with his rifle. Archbishop Fulton Sheen became aware of her martyrdom while he was a seminarian. He was so inspired by her sacrifice that he promised to pray a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament each day for the rest of his life. The eleven year old girl could have had no idea how she would have influenced a future bishop who would in turn influence millions and promote Eucharistic Adoration. We also have no idea how our witness and sacrifices influence others.

  3. The Catechist in Question says:

    I pray that all parishes adopt the instructions set forth by our Holy Archbishop.

  4. i think the suggestion to place the monstrance with the BLESSED SACRAMENT on the main altar is a great idea, given the wonderful number of people who attended.

  5. I live in San Francisco and didn’t even hear about this. Where and where was it promoted???

  6. How about placing the tabernacle in the center of the Cathedral – just exactly where it should be!

    • i agree – let it be so! He is the Worthy One.

    • oh, you must tell POPE BENEDICT XVI to do the same, then, in SAINT PETER’S BASILICA.

      because there, the tabernacle is located in a side chapel for prayer…

      • And St Peter’s is as small as the cathedral is it?

      • In the Los Angeles cathedral the tabernacle is fashioned into the shape of an apollo era rocket ship. It stands from floor to celling and lacks any identifiable opening. This “rocket ship” tabernacle stands in a side chapel about the size of a small bedroom, not withstanding the extra high celling which is needed to accommodate the height of the “rocket ship”. What a disgrace to our Lord.

  7. The Sheepcat says:

    Hallelujah! God bless Archbishop Cordileone.

  8. We have been truly blessed by the appointment of Salvatore Cordileone as our new Archbishop. Thank you, Most Holy Trinity and our Blessed Mother. Amen.

  9. Abeca Christian says:

    What a blessing! Praise Be Jesus Christ!

  10. Mbûkû Kanyau Mbithûka says:

    Thank you Archbishop Cordileone for the Holy Hour.

    Hopefully you find the Courage to add a real High Altar to the Cathedral Dedicated to the Mother of God in addition to that Altar of Plenty.

    • Mbûkû, i don’t know what you are referring to when you say to our ARCHBISHOP: “Hopefully you find the Courage to add a real High Altar to the Cathedral Dedicated to the Mother of God in addition to that Altar of Plenty.”

      the BLESSED SACRAMENT is housed is a tabernacle that is glorious and huge and promiment, and that was constructed so it could also be opened for ADORTION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.

      the ARCHBISHOP’S cathedra is in the center of the cathedral, right behind the altar of sacrifice, and BLESSED JOHN PAUL II sat there when he came to our city.

      you seem to be suggesting that ARCHBISHOP CORDILEONE should spend gobs of money re-doing the entire sanctuary, but i don’t get why?

      the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH teaches that during THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS we should focus on the ambo (WORD), chair (FROM WHERE THE ALTER CHRISTUS leads us in prayer), and the altar of sacrifice (where the EUCHARISTIC is celebrated).

      the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH also teaches that, if at all possdible, the faithful should receive COMMUNION from HOSTS that bhave been consecrated during the MASS, which means the TABERNACLE should not be used during the HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS.

      it’s for prayer, adoration, worship, and having the BODY OF CHRIST reserved for people who are sick and dying — but not needed for MASS.

      • Jim McCrea says:

        Thank you for the theology of the CAPITAL LETTER.

        • JIM, you are very funny!

          i’m sorry for the many caps, but people get very grouchyy about my tyuping, especiall if i fail to capitalize anything having to do with relgiion.

          my new year’ss resolutiion is to work on my typing wskills to become more standard…and less eccentric! :)

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Now to get Our Lord back to the heart of the Cathedral where it belong!

    Yes, ABC is a true gift from the Holy Spirit!

    I was praying for a year or so for someone of his ilk!


  12. St. Christopher says:

    “Janet”: has it right! How about placing the Lord — you know, good Archbishop — the One we go to Mass about, at the center of it all. How perverse is it to say that people needed to twist around to see the Blessed Sacrament. Also good to see what a surprise that it was to the “cathedral staff” that so many people actually came to Church for the right reason, and not to be carried away by the many crazy things that staff dream up. The interior of that Church needs to be significantly altered. Hopefully, Archbishop Cordileone has been there enough to see what needs to be done. Perhaps he can port over some of the FSSP from St. Margaret Mary to establish the liturgies at St. Mary’s.

  13. Magdalene says:

    How I hope other bishops and pastors will also do this.

    Dominus Est!

  14. It will take a generation to repair the damage done to the Archdiocese of San Francisco.But in humility may I suggest some really important first steps.Insist on strict obedience to liturgical norms by all priests in the Archdiocese.Work on getting young orthodox religious into the grammar schools,high schools and college campuses.IE Nashville Dominicans etc.Insist on central placement of the tabernacle in all parish churches.Allow the Tridentine Mass to be available in many parishes.

    • i firmly believe that ARCHBHISHOP CORDILEONE will work on many of the changes you are suggdsting, ryan.

      i have heard that he’s getting our seminarinans to learn the TLM at our seminary, because right now, we only have about two or three priests who are competent to celebrate the TLM:

      - FATHER BILL YOUNG in sausalito (marin county)
      - FATHER LAWRENCE GOODE in east palo alto (san mateo county)

      one’s way up north, the other’s way down south in our archdiocese. both in parishes that are suffering financially.

      • max,

        You forgot to mention Immaculate Conception Chapel at 3255 Folsom Street in San Francisco. Fr. Young celebrates the TLM there every Sunday (except the first Sunday of the month) at 5PM. It’s pretty centrally located and has a decent size parking lot.

        Plus, Fr. Young’s homilies are like a free theological education!

  15. God bless the Archbishop he has his work cut out for him. Hopefully he will invite the F.S.S.P. and Institute of Christ the King into his Archdiocese to establish TLM’s into many parishes. St. Mary’s needs a complete makeover if not torn down and start from scratch!! In the meantime he could start by having a High Altar installed and communion rail, fitting for Our Lord.

  16. “St. Mary’s needs a complete makeover if not torn down and start from scratch!!”

    oh, JANEK, thanks so much for your helpful ideas…spending more money on the catehdral…just what we need.

    and what do YOU think a “high altar” is for? we celebrate Mass at the altar (or altar of sacrifice, as the Church) calls it, so I really wonder what’s going through your mind in calljikng for the diocese to spend money on building a “High Altar.”

    if you have ever been to the Blessed Sacrament Shrine in St. Mary’s Cathedral, maybe that’s what you mean…but it’s already there!

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 250 words, and should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Post your comment

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 250 words, and should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.