The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

St. John Lateran exterior

Study:  Think back to churches that have real significance in your life.  What was going on at the time?

Pray:  Step into a church and take a moment to pray.  First, reflect on your blessings – thanking God.  Second – offer your petitions for special needs and concerns.  The Lord is listening.

Serve:  Do you know someone who has a hard time getting to church?  Can you help them?  Do you know someone who has been away from the Church…can you help them?

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily

This weekend we celebrate a feast in the Church that is a little out of the ordinary.  Throughout the year we honor saints, angels, events in the history of salvation, and seasons in the liturgical calendar.

But buildings?

Yep.  The readings this weekend are for the anniversary of a dedication of a building – a church.  Now this is not just any building; the Lateran basilica has an important place in the history and significance of our faith:

  • Pope Sylvester I dedicated it on Nov. 9, 324
  • The land was owned by the Laterani family
  • Called the “mother and head of all churches”
  • Episcopal seat of the Pope as Bishop of Rome
  • Papal residence from the 4th century to 1309
  • Site of 5 Ecumenical councils

Now why would we do this?  Why take a day out of the calendar to honor a building?  Here are few reasons:

  1. Buildings are a part of life
    – living, working, learning, praying!
  2. This church is loaded with history
    – many great events happened here
  3. Buildings can inspire and shape our faith
    – form a community for prayer/service
  4. Our faith uses buildings as an example
    – temple, dwelling, refuge, house, etc.

The readings today use the idea of a building to help reveal God’s presence among us.  The image of a building (especially a Temple) develops several themes:

  • From the Temple of God comes life
  • All dwellings (temples belong to the Lord
  • Each one of us is a Temple of God
  • Jesus described his own body as a temple

Church buildings not only serve to gather us for prayer, but they shape the very way we pray.  They are places where we recognize the Lord’s presence in a powerful way.  By honoring a particular church this weekend, we pause to remember the role that buildings (especially churches) play in our faith.

A building by itself is nothing.  A building filled with people alive for Christ is awesome.  May this feast remind us that all our buildings and bodies are simply places – created by God in order to dwell among us.

St. John Lateran interior

About Fr. Andrew Ricci

A Catholic priest since 1997, Fr. Andrew Ricci is currently the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI. His website "Three Great Things" can be found at studyprayserve.com and his podcasts can be found under "Catholic Inspiration" in the iTunes store. View all posts by Fr. Andrew Ricci

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