Saturday, November 9, 2019

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 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17; Jn 2:13-22

Come! behold the deeds of the Lord, the astounding things he has wrought on earth.

This is the temple of the Lord! The temple of the Lord! The temple of the Lord!
(Jer 7:4)

It's a wonderful day to celebrate. First and foremost we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, a feast celebrated in Rome on this date since the twelfth century. Let's go straight to a trusty source: "The Lateran Basilica was built by the Emperor Constantine on the Lateran Hill in Rome in about 324 … In honor of the basilica, 'the mother and head of all the churches of the City and of the World,' the feast has been extended to the whole Roman Rite as a sign of unity and love towards the See of Peter, which, as St Ignatius of Antioch said in the second century, 'presides over the whole assembly of charity'" (Universalis, November 9, 2019). It is also the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And it's my birthday! Alrighty then, let's get on with a busy day.

Have you ever been to the Lateran Basilica? It is enormous. On this date for several years, while studying in Rome, I used to go by foot from wherever I found myself and plop down in a chair in the back of the basilica for reflection, prayer, gratitude, and plain seeking up the sheer beauty of the sacred place. Then I would participate in a Mass that would be held in one of the side chapels. One year, 2013 to be exact, the date before the Fiumicino Half-Marathon (great race-organized, competitive, fast course-run fast enough and you get a classy prize like a basket full of goodies including wine, cheese, and crackers!), I decided to walk across the street to the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs, commonly called Scala Sancta (holy steps), which houses 28 marble steps. On the shrine's website you'll find this: "According to ancient Christian tradition, Saint Helena (d. 335), the mother of Constantine, had the stairs transported from Pontius Pilate's palace in Jerusalem to Rome. It is believed that Jesus climbed these stairs several times the day he was sentenced to death, thus, they are known as the 'Scala Pilati' or 'Scala Sancta' …" It is customary for many to climbs the holy steps on their knees. So that day I was prompted to participate. I get down on my knees and start climbing behind a family that included a mom with her three children. Impatiently, I willed the prayerful family in front of me to hurry up because my knees hurt! How lame is that! Lame, perhaps, with a lesson in humility. Bless that dear family. We pray for one another on this festive day. May Saint John and Saint Helena intercede for us.

My fellow Christians, do we wish to celebrate joyfully the birth of this temple? Then let us not destroy the living temples of God in ourselves by works of evil. I shall speak clearly, so that all can understand. Whenever we come to church, we must prepare our hearts to be as beautiful as we expect this church to be. Do you wish to find this basilica immaculately clean? Then do not soil your soul with the filth of sins. Do you wish this basilica to be full of light? God too wishes that your soul be not in darkness, but that the light of good works shine in us, so that he who dwells in the heavens will be glorified. Just as you enter this church building, so God wishes to enter into your soul, for he promised: I shall live in them, and I shall walk the corridors of their hearts.
(From a sermon by Saint Caesarius of Arles, 468/470-542)

(1 Cor 3:16-17)

If you are young, look forward to God's fidelity to you throughout your life; if you are older, look back on God's fidelity to you through all that is past. Whatever your age, know that God's love is the foundation upon which all our hope stands firm.
(Magnificat, Prayer for the Evening, October 24, 2019)

Today's photo: Lord's Prayer windchime, from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, IL, now hanging outside our Welcome Center. Gift from a dear friend who lives in Terre Haute, IN. Go Hoosiers!

© Gertrude Feick 2019

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