Friday, November 9, 2018

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Readings of the Day
RB: Ch 32 The Tools and Goods of the Monastery
Mass: Ezk 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; Resp Ps 46; 1 Co 3:9c-11, 16-17; Jn 2:13-22

The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!

I recently had opportunity to attend daily and Sunday Eucharist at a parish in Carmichael, CA, St John the Evangelist. In fact, this past Sunday I included the text from a hymn we sung at Mass. I think about my experiences today as we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, the episcopal seat of the Bishop of Rome, the pope. I used to spend several hours at the Lateran on this date when I studied in Rome. I'd head to the basilica early in the morning just to sit in the vast expanse of the place. It is enormous. At some point I would participate in Eucharist at one of the side chapels. I remember those days with gratitude.

Back to St John the Evangelist. My experiences there made an impact because of the sense of reverence exhibited by the parishioners. I was impressed especially with the atmosphere of quiet before Sunday 8am Mass. There was not loud visiting in the vestibule and those who waited in the pews were quiet, not whispering, chattering, or moving about. It just seemed to come natural for the assembly. Just before Mass began, one of the lectors went to the ambo with an announcement. In similar words he said: Since we observe an atmosphere of reverence at our parish, please turn off all electronic equipment. That was it. A simple yet telling statement. This is what we are about here. Thank you. In addition, I found the parishioners smiling and welcoming. I found a similar atmosphere during the daily celebration of the Eucharist that took place in the chapel. People were quiet as they prepared for Mass; they smiled and were hospitable. Icing on the cake was the daily homilies: they arose from reflection on the day's readings, were brief, and practical. More than one of them provided inspiration for this blog! 🌝

As we celebrate the dedication of a basilica, a sacred space, I reflect on my sense of reverence and  respect for sacred spaces, all of them, including the sacred space of our bodies: Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you … the temple of God which you are is holy (1 Co 3:16-17).   

You are the tabernacle of God; you are the temple of God. As the Apostle says: Holy is the temple of God which you are. A temple, because the Lord will reign forever in you. And yet a tabernacle, because God is on pilgrimage in you, God hungers in you, God thirsts in you.
(Aelred of Rievaulx)

Not unrelated are the chapters we have been covering in the Holy Rule, namely, the chapters on the monastery cellarer and the tools and goods of the monastery. Included here are three verses which may stimulate your own reflection on all things sacred.

The cellarer will regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar, aware that nothing is to be neglected.
(RB 31:10)

The goods of the monastery, that is, the tools, clothing or anything else, should be entrusted to sisters whom the abbess appoints and in whose manner of life she has confidence.
(RB 32:1)

Whoever fails to keep the things belonging to the monastery clean or treats them carelessly should be reproved.
(RB 32:4)

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