He dwells among us: Never look down

Seek God’s design in all you do to help build up a beautiful dwelling of God

By Bishop Richard. F. Stika

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love building projects and renovations. I particularly enjoy watching our new cathedral being built, especially as its skeletal frame of steel goes up, revealing more and more its shape and height. It is a visible reminder of God’s immense love and goodness, and your remarkable generosity, and a magnificent statement of our Catholic faith.

Watching this incredibly complicated structure rise atop its cruciform concrete foundation, according to precise blueprints, also is a beautiful image of what is most important to me: your soul. For we are each a holy dwelling place and called to build up as a magnificent cathedral, to be a “living stone” built into a spiritual house of communion with God according to His perfect design. (cf. 1 Peter 2:5) And we know from Jesus, and from the example of the saints, that the greatest way we build up this “spiritual house” is to allow Jesus to be formed in our hearts, and to build up one another in God’s love and mercy — to be the heart, the face, and the hands of Jesus to others.

At this stage of construction, I find it fascinating to watch the “iron workers in the sky” — the construction workers whose job it is to position and secure the steel columns, beams, and girders hoisted aloft by crane. I’m reminded of the “Ironworkers Prayer” that describes how they are able to do such dangerous work: “They never look down in fear or dread.” Soon, I hope to go atop the cathedral, “where angels fear to tread,” to participate in a great tradition of construction.

When the cathedral’s dome is assembled, sometime around my birthday on July 4, it will be “crowned” with a smaller dome-like cupola, capping its height at 14 stories. Soon after, a special crane (the “Big Daddy” of cranes) will be on site for the heavy lifting. Construction crews traditionally celebrate this milestone with a ceremony called “topping out.” In addition to the American flag being placed atop the highest beam, I also will place the Vatican flag. When I’m hoisted up, I’ll try my best, like the iron workers, to not look down — but I’m not sure I won’t be afraid.

Another long tradition involves placing a tree atop the structure, as a sign of the timber cut down and used in building. Of course, what will replace the flags and the tree atop the cupola will be the cross of Christ.

Just as we are doing with the cathedral, God uses very precise blueprints in creating each and every one of us, unique in His eyes. To the degree we allow ourselves to be built up according to God’s good design, cooperating with His grace, we grow increasingly in the image of Christ. God loves us so much that He includes us in the construction of his dwelling on earth, the Church, as living stones, fashioned by faith, fitted together in hope, and cemented together by our love. May the crown we seek always include the cross of Christ.

So how do we build according to God’s building code? I recommend that you reflect often upon the Lord’s Prayer so that you will lift your eyes up to heaven. Let God truly be your Father in everything.

Make His name holy in everything you do. Seek His kingdom, not one of your own making. Pray and strive to follow God’s will, to make His will yours, instead of the other way around. Trust God as children who look to their Father for all good things. Remember to seek not just material bread, but the Bread of Life who nourishes our soul, and share what you have received.

Seek forgiveness for your sins, and, above all, extend God’s mercy to all who have offended you. Implore the Holy Spirit to fortify and strengthen you against temptation. Finally, bring to God all your distress and that of the world, knowing that Satan does not want you or the Church to be built up but to be torn down.

So look up, and be built into a cathedral of God!

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