Dear Parishioners and Friends,
It happens every year. When we get to the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, I wonder, “Why do we have a major feast day for this?” Include the date in a history book, yes. Celebrate the anniversary in Rome, yes. And, at the most, make it an optional memorial in our missal.
But then I think about it further as I prepare for Mass and I say, “This is one important feast.”
And I don’t just say that because St. John Lateran is the Pope’s church (not St. Peter’s as you might suppose). The beauty of this feast is its irony. We’re celebrating a building! The beauty is that it’s just a building … and so much more.
The current Basilica is magnificent, but this feast isn’t about this particular structure, because the feast precedes it. We’re celebrating the fact that this structure is where the Sacraments are celebrated by the successor of Peter. We’re in communion with the one whom Jesus named the first among equals and the touchstone of unity in the Church. A small wooden table on which Peter said Mass is underneath the stone altar there.
It’s about our own church
And we celebrate the fact that every church building–even our modest Mount Calvary–houses the celebration of the same Sacrament with the same transforming and unifying grace. These buildings matter not because of their stones per se, but because of the sacramental work of those stones in our incarnate world.
And living stones
What’s more is that in these stones are created living stones and temples of the Spirit. The collect for the feast day emphasizes this:
O most blessed Saviour, who didst vouchsafe thy gracious presence at the Feast of Dedication: be present with us at this time by thy Holy spirit, and so possess our souls by thy grace; that we may be living temples, holy and acceptable unto thee …
Yes, we are the living temples and stones in the living Temple of Christ on earth (Eph. 2:19-22).
Why this matters today
What does this mean for us? It means that this isn’t a feast to only be celebrated in Rome. And it means that when things happen in Rome that we can’t celebrate, then we are still the living Church locally.
The readings for the feast include Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple, and Jesus will continue to cleanse his Holy Church. In the meantime, we have the awesome responsibility of cleansing our own hearts, as pilgrim people who make the stones on which we worship become holy ground.
MASS THIS SUNDAY
8am and 10am
The Parable of the Talents. This parable is an encouragement to us, as God expands our ability to build his kingdom when we are good stewards of his abundant grace.
LIVE STREAM AT 10AM