THE DEDICATION OF THE LATERAN BASILICA [Feast] HOMILY AND COMMENTARY.
The Lateran Basilica is the cathedral of Rome. It was built in the time of Constantine and was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324. This feast became a universal celebration in honor of the basilica called “the mother and head of all churches of Rome and the world” as a sign of love for and union with the See of Peter.
IN THE BEGINNINGS of Christianity, the celebration of the Eucharist took place in private houses that some Christian families –usually those with the greatest economic means and, therefore, with the largest dwellings– made available to the community. They were the primitive domestic churches or domus ecclesiae. In Rome, the first Christian temple that was built was the Lateran basilica, on the land until then occupied by a barracks for the emperor’s private guard. Pope Silvestre consecrated it in the year 318. At first, it received the name of Basilica del Salvador, but in medieval times it was also dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. For many centuries, until the Avignon period, the papal chair was there, so this basilica deserved the title of cunctarum mater et caput ecclesiarum, mother and head of all churches, which can still be read in an inscription next to the entrance .
Today we commemorate the dedication of this basilica. It is an occasion to strengthen our communion with the see of Peter and also to deepen the meaning that sacred buildings have in Christian life, spaces dedicated exclusively to worship. One of the prefaces that can be prayed at today’s Mass summarizes the meaning of this celebration when he gives thanks to God with these words: “For in your benevolence you are pleased to dwell in this house of prayer in order to perfect us as the temple of the Holy Spirit, supported by the perpetual help of your grace and resplendent with the glory of a life acceptable to you. Year by year you sanctify the Church, the Bride of Christ, foreshadowed in visible buildings, so that, rejoicing as the mother of countless children, she may be given her place in your heavenly glory.”[Preface Dedication of a Church II]. The visible churches are a symbol of the invisible Church, made up of all the baptized as “living and chosen stones”[Collect prayer, Mass of Dedication of the Lateran Basilica]. For this reason, on a feast like today’s, we ask the Lord that, with his help, we may know how to build the Church and thus reach the definitive dwelling in the heavenly Jerusalem[Prayer after Communion].
-Excerpt from https://opusdei.org/es-es/article/meditaciones-dedicacion-de-la-basilica-de-san-juan-de-letran/#_ftn2. Translation mine.
A sermon of St Caesarius of Arles
Baptism makes every one of us into a temple of God.
My fellow Christians, today is the birthday of this church, an occasion for celebration and rejoicing. We, however, ought to be the true and living temple of God. Nevertheless, Christians rightly commemorate this feast of the church, their mother, for they know that through her they were reborn in the spirit. At our first birth, we were vessels of God’s wrath; reborn, we became vessels of his mercy. Our first birth brought death to us, but our second restored us to life.
Indeed, before our baptism we were sanctuaries of the devil; but after our baptism we merited the privilege of being temples of Christ. And if we think more carefully about the meaning of our salvation, we shall realise that we are indeed living and true temples of God. God does not dwell only in things made by human hands, nor in homes of wood and stone, but rather he dwells principally in the soul made according to his own image and fashioned by his own hand. Therefore, the apostle Paul says: The temple of God is holy, and you are that temple.
When Christ came, he banished the devil from our hearts, in order to build in them a temple for himself. Let us therefore do what we can with his help, so that our evil deeds will not deface that temple. For whoever does evil, does injury to Christ. As I said earlier, before Christ redeemed us, we were the house of the devil, but afterward, we merited the privilege of being the house of God. God himself in his loving mercy saw fit to make of us his own home. 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, I shall walk through their hearts.
℟. I saw a stream of water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia.*Wherever this water flowed, it brought life, and all who were saved by it cried out: Alleluia, alleluia!Responsory
℣. When the church was consecrated, the congregation broke in to cries of joy, and sounds of sweet singing burst from their mouths.* Wherever this water flowed, it brought life, and all who were saved by it cried out: Alleluia, alleluia!
Let us pray.
O God, who from living and chosen stones prepare an eternal dwelling for your majesty, increase in your Church the grace you have bestowed, so that. by new growth your faithful people may build up the heavenly Jerusalem. Through our Lord.
VIDEO COMMENTARY FROM THE COUPLES OF CHRIST INTERNATIONAL CHAIRMAN, BONG ARJONILLO
TOPIC: Do you know why we celebrate the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John in Lateran today?
Not many know that the Pope is also the bishop of Rome. Popes lived in the Lateran Basilica from the fourth to the fourteenth century. It is the oldest of the four major basilicas in Rome. A basilica is a church edifice similar to a priest being made into a monsignor. It is accorded special privileges by the Pope. The four major Papal basilicas are: Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, St Peter’s Basilica, St. Paul Outside the Walls, Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major.Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. The palace of the Laterani belonged to the family bearing its name and came into the possession of Emperor of Rome, Constantine and his wife Fausta. When he declared conversion to Christianity, he gave it to the Pope to become the Pope’s private residence. It was dedicated to Christ our Savior by Pope St. Silvester on Nov. 9, 324. At least 15 popes have been buried here.
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