From the Desk of Deacon Richard… May 3, 2015

fatima-maryIf I told you there was a genuinely Catholic program that exists for the sole purpose (or maybe I should say soul purpose) of helping you live an authentically Catholic life and so become the best version of yourself, would you be interested? If I told you there was a holy priest whose goal was to help as many souls as possible find their way to sainthood, would you want to be among those called?

Saint Thomas Aquinas taught that three things were necessary for the salvation of man: “to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.” This is the simple beginning of the road to sainthood. People tend to overcomplicate things: the path is narrow; it might not be easy… but it is not complex. It involves overcoming base desires and embracing the spiritual disciplines that guide us on the path to salvation.

Pray. That is the most important. Pray always. It is through prayer that we become closer to God, and that is how we become holy. A perfect Mass is perfect prayer; Mass brings us to God as it brings God to us. God desires our salvation; we must desire it also. God is working for our salvation; it should come as little surprise that we must work for it, also.

The goal of Operation Morningstar is the salvation of souls through helping people live authentically Catholic lives. Do you want to be among those called?

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

The Jesus Prayer (And Other Short Prayers)

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The Jesus Prayer is: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Other prayer phrases that can be prayed like the Jesus Prayer:

  • Acclaim the King, the Lord.
  • According to Thy will, O Lord, let it be done to me.
  • All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
  • Alleluia
  • Be faithful until death, says the Lord, and I will give you the crown of life.
  • Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
  • Be watchful and ready: you know not when the Son of Man is coming.
  • Be watchful, pray constantly, that you may be worthy to stand before the Son of Man.
  • Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.
  • Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
  • Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes.
  • Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord: glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.
  • Blessed is the man who walks in justice and speaks what is true.
  • Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
  • Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.
  • Give joy to your servant, Lord, for to you I lift up my soul.
  • Give rest O Lord to the soul of Thy servant (name).
  • Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
  • Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.
  • God be merciful to me, a sinner.
  • God mounts his throne to shouts of joy.
  • God’s love is everlasting.
  • Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy.
  • Hear us, Lord, and save us.
  • Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.
  • Holy Guardian Angel, pray to God for me.
  • I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.
  • I am the way, the truth, and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father, except through me.
  • I call you my friends, says the Lord, for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
  • I will bless the Lord at all times.

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  • I will praise your name forever, my king and my God.
  • If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
  • Let all the earth cry out to God with joy, alleluia.
  • Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
  • Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
  • Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
  • Lord, show us your mercy and love.
  • Lord, today we have seen your glory.
  • Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
  • Most Holy Theotokos, save us!
  • My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
  • My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.
  • My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
  • Lord, deprive me not of Your heavenly blessings.
  • Lord, deprive me not of Your Kingdom.
  • Lord, fill my heart with life eternal.
  • Lord, grant me good thoughts.
  • Lord, grant me modesty, chastity, and obedience.
  • Lord, grant me patience, courage, and meekness.
  • Lord, grant me to grow in faith, hope, and charity.
  • Lord, my God, You will illumine my darkness.
  • Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.
  • Praise the Lord for he is good.
  • Remember, O Lord, your faithfulness and love.
  • Saint (Name), pray to God for me.
  • Sing to the Lord a new song.
  • Speak, Lord, your servant is listening; you have the words of everlasting life.
  • Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
  • The Lord is kind and merciful.
  • The Lord is my light and my salvation.
  • The Lord is near to all who call on him.
  • The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
  • The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us. To those who accepted him, he gave power to become children of God.
  • This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
  • To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
  • We are his people: the sheep of his flock.
  • We praise you, O God, for all your works are wonderful.
  • Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.
  • With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
  • Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth.
  • Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

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Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, Bishop and Martyr – February 23rd

Today is the feast day of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, Bishop and Martyr.

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“Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, ‘firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,’ helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man”

THE EPISTLE OF POLYCARP
Translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

Polycarp prologue:1
Polycarp and the presbyters that are with him unto the Church of God
which sojourneth at Philippi; mercy unto you and peace from God
Almighty and Jesus Christ our Savior be multiplied.

Polycarp 1:1
I rejoiced with you greatly in our Lord Jesus Christ, for that ye
received the followers of the true Love and escorted them on their
way, as befitted you–those men encircled in saintly bonds which are
the diadems of them that be truly chosen of God and our Lord;

Polycarp 1:2
and that the steadfast root of your faith which was famed from
primitive times abideth until now and beareth fruit unto our Lord
Jesus Christ, who endured to face even death for our sins, whom God
raised, having loosed the pangs of Hades; on whom,

Polycarp 1:3
though ye saw Him not, ye believe with joy unutterable and full of
glory
; unto which joy many desire to enter in; forasmuch as ye know
that it is by grace ye are saved, not of works, but by the will of
God through Jesus Christ.

Polycarp 2:1
Wherefore gird up your loins and serve God in fear and truth,
forsaking the vain and empty talking and the error of the many, for
that ye have believed on Him that raised our Lord Jesus Christ from
the dead and gave unto him glory
and a throne on His right hand;
unto whom all things were made subject that are in heaven and that
are on the earth; to whom every creature that hath breath doeth
service; who cometh as judge of quick and dead; whose blood God
will require of them that are disobedient unto Him.

Polycarp 2:2
Now He that raised Him from the dead will raise us also; if we
do His will and walk in His commandments and love the things which He
loved, abstaining from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of
money, evil speaking, false witness; not rendering evil for evil or
railing for railing
or blow for blow or cursing for cursing;

Polycarp 2:3
but remembering the words which the Lord spake, as He taught; Judge
not that ye be not judged. Forgive, and it shall be forgiven to
you. Have mercy that ye may receive mercy. With what measure ye
mete, it shall be measured to you again;
and again Blessed are
the poor and they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for
theirs is the kingdom of God
.

Polycarp 3:1
These things, brethren, I write unto you concerning righteousness,
not because I laid this charge upon myself, but because ye invited
me.

Polycarp 3:2
For neither am I, nor is any other like unto me, able to follow the
wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he came among you
taught face to face with the men of that day the word which
concerneth truth carefully and surely; who also, when he was absent,
wrote a letter unto you, into the which if ye look diligently, ye
shall be able to be builded up unto the faith given to you,

Polycarp 3:3
which is the mother of us all, while hope followeth after and love
goeth before–love toward God and Christ and toward our neighbor. For
if any man be occupied with these, he hath fulfilled the commandment
of righteousness; for he that hath love is far from all sin.

Polycarp 4:1
But the love of money is the beginning of all troubles. Knowing
therefore that we brought nothing into the world neither can we
carry anything out
, let us arm ourselves with the armor of
righteousness, and let us teach ourselves first to walk in the
commandment of the Lord;

Polycarp 4:2
and then our wives also, to walk in the faith that hath been given
unto them and in love and purity, cherishing their own husbands in
all truth and loving all men equally in all chastity, and to train
their children in the training of the fear of God.

Polycarp 4:3
Our widows must be sober-minded as touching the faith of the Lord,
making intercession without ceasing for all men, abstaining from all
calumny, evil speaking, false witness, love of money, and every evil
thing, knowing that they are God’s altar, and that all sacrifices are
carefully inspected, and nothing escapeth Him either of their
thoughts or intents or any of the secret things of the heart.

Polycarp 5:1
Knowing then that God is not mocked, we ought to walk worthily of
His commandment and His glory.

Polycarp 5:2
In like manner deacons should be blameless in the presence of His
righteousness, as deacons of God and Christ and not of men; not
calumniators, not double-tongued, not lovers of money, temperate in
all things, compassionate, diligent, walking according to the truth
of the Lord who became a minister (deacon) of all. For if we be
well pleasing unto Him in this present world, we shall receive the
future world also, according as He promised us to raise us from the
dead, and that if we conduct ourselves worthily of Him we shall
also reign with Him,
if indeed we have faith.

Polycarp 5:3
In like manner also the younger men must be blameless in all things,
caring for purity before everything and curbing themselves from every
evil. For it is a good thing to refrain from lusts in the world, for
every lust warreth against the Spirit, and neither whoremongers
nor effeminate persons nor defilers of themselves with men shall
inherit the kingdom of God
, neither they that do untoward things.
Wherefore it is right to abstain from all these things, submitting
yourselves to the presbyters and deacons as to God and Christ. The
virgins must walk in a blameless and pure conscience.

Polycarp 6:1
And the presbyters also must be compassionate, merciful towards all
men, turning back the sheep that are gone astray, visiting all the
infirm, not neglecting a widow or an orphan or a poor man: but
providing always for that which is honorable in the sight of God
and of men
, abstaining from all anger, respect of persons,
unrighteous judgment, being far from all love of money, not quick to
believe anything against any man, not hasty in judgment, knowing that
we all are debtors of sin.

Polycarp 6:2
If then we entreat the Lord that He would forgive us, we also ought
to forgive: for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and we
must all stand at the judgment-seat of Christ, and each man must
give an account of himself
.

Polycarp 6:3
Let us therefore so serve Him with fear and all reverence, as He
himself gave commandment and the Apostles who preached the Gospel to
us and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of our Lord;
being zealous as touching that which is good, abstaining from
offenses and from the false brethren and from them that bear the name
of the Lord in hypocrisy, who lead foolish men astray.

Polycarp 7:1
For every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in
the flesh, is antichrist
: and whosoever shall not confess the
testimony of the Cross, is of the devil; and whosoever shall pervert
the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and say that there is
neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the firstborn of
Satan.

Polycarp 7:2
Wherefore let us forsake the vain doing of the many and their false
teachings, and turn unto the word which was delivered unto us from
the beginning, being sober unto prayer and constant in fastings,
entreating the all-seeing God with supplications that He bring us
not into temptation
, according as the Lord said, The Spirit is
indeed willing, but the flesh is weak
.

Polycarp 8:1
Let us therefore without ceasing hold fast by our hope and by the
earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ who took up our
sins in His own body upon the tree, who did no sin, neither was
guile found in His mouth
, but for our sakes He endured all things,
that we might live in Him.

Polycarp 8:2
Let us therefore become imitators of His endurance; and if we should
suffer for His name’s sake, let us glorify Him. For He gave this
example to us in His own person, and we believed this.

Polycarp 9:1
I exhort you all therefore to be obedient unto the word of
righteousness and to practice all endurance, which also ye saw with
your own eyes in the blessed Ignatius and Zosimus and Rufus, yea and
in others also who came from among yourselves, as well as in Paul
himself and the rest of the Apostles;

Polycarp 9:2
being persuaded that all these ran not in vain but in faith and
righteousness, and that they are in their due place in the presence
of the Lord, with whom also they suffered. For they loved not the
present world
, but Him that died for our sakes and was raised by
God for us.

Polycarp 10:1
Stand fast therefore in these things and follow the example of the
Lord, being firm in the faith and immovable, in love of the
brotherhood kindly affectioned one to another
, partners with the
truth, forestalling one another in the gentleness of the Lord,
despising no man.

Polycarp 10:2
When ye are able to do good, defer it not, for Pitifulness
delivereth from death. Be ye all subject one to another, having
your conversation
unblamable among the gentiles, that your good
works
both ye may receive praise and the Lord may not be
blasphemed in you.

Polycarp 10:3
But woe to him through whom the name of the Lord be blasphemed.
Therefore teach all men soberness, in which ye yourselves also walk.

Polycarp 11:1
I was exceedingly grieved for Valens, who aforetime was a presbyter
among you, because he is so ignorant of the office which was given
unto him. I warn you therefore that ye refrain from covetousness, and
that ye be pure and truthful. Refrain from all evil.

Polycarp 11:2
But he who cannot govern himself in these things, how doth he enjoin
this upon another? If a man refrain not from covetousness, he shall
be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the Gentiles
who know not the judgment of the Lord, Nay, know we not, that the
saints shall judge the world
, as Paul teacheth?

Polycarp 11:3
But I have not found any such thing in you, neither have heard
thereof, among whom the blessed Paul labored, who were his
letters in the beginning. For he boasteth of you in all those
churches which alone at that time knew God; for we knew Him not as
yet.

Polycarp 11:4
Therefore I am exceedingly grieved for him and for his wife, unto
whom may the Lord grant true repentance. Be ye therefore yourselves
also sober herein, and hold not such as enemies but restore them
as frail and erring members, that ye may save the whole body of you.
For so doing, ye do edify one another.

Polycarp 12:1
For I am persuaded that ye are well trained in the sacred writings,
and nothing is hidden from you. But to myself this is not granted.
Only, as it is said in these scriptures, Be ye angry and sin not,
and Let not the sun set on your wrath. Blessed is he that
remembereth this; and I trust that this is in you.

Polycarp 12:2
Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal
High-priest Himself the [Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in
faith and truth, and in all gentleness and in all avoidance of wrath
and in forbearance and long suffering and in patient endurance and in
purity; and may He grant unto you a lot and portion among His saints,
and to us with you, and to all that are under heaven, who shall
believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ and on His Father that
raised him from the dead.

Polycarp 12:3
Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings and powers and
princes and for them that persecute and hate you and for the
enemies of the cross
, that your fruit may be manifest among all
men
, that ye may be perfect in Him.

Polycarp 13:1
Ye wrote to me, both ye yourselves and Ignatius, asking that if any
one should go to Syria he might carry thither the letters from you.
And this I will do, if I get a fit opportunity, either I myself, or
he whom I shall send to be ambassador on your behalf also.

Polycarp 13:2
The letters of Ignatius which were sent to us by him, and others as
many as we had by us, we send unto you, according as ye gave charge;
the which are subjoined to this letter; from which ye will be able to
gain great advantage. For they comprise faith and endurance and every
kind of edification, which pertaineth unto our Lord. Moreover
concerning Ignatius himself and those that were with him, if ye have
any sure tidings, certify us.

Polycarp 14:1
I write these things to you by Crescens, whom I commended to you
recently and now commend unto you: for he hath walked blamelessly
with us; and I believe also with you in like manner. But ye shall
have his sister commended, when she shall come to you. Fare ye well
in the Lord Jesus Christ in grace, ye and all yours. Amen.

How Do I Have a Mass Said for Someone?

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N.B.: This information is specific to Our Lady of Lourdes in Raytown, Missouri, and comes from the Parish Bulletin of 4 January 2015. Specific practices may vary at other parishes.

“The grace of mutual love among the living, strengthened and increased by the sacrament of the Eucharist, flows, especially by virtue of the Sacrifice [of the Mass], to all who belong to the communion of saints. For the communion of saints is simply … the mutual sharing of help, atonement, prayers and benefits among the faithful, those already in the heavenly fatherland, those consigned to the purifying fire, and those still making their pilgrim way here on earth. These all form one city, whose head is Christ, and whose vital principle is love. Faith teaches that although the august Sacrifice can be offered to God alone, it can nevertheless be celebrated in honor of the saints now reigning in Heaven with God, who has crowned them, to obtain their intercession for us, and also, according to apostolic tradition, to wash away the stains of those brethren who died in the Lord but without yet being wholly purified.” — Pope Leo XIII, Mirae caritatis (1902)

An individual may ask a priest to offer a Mass for a specific intention for a number of reasons. This could be done, for example, in thanksgiving or in petition for a specific intention. It is also very common to ask for a Mass to be said for the repose of the soul of a deceased friend or family member.

When a priest reverently and validly offers Mass in accord with the norms of the Church, it is in union with and for the good of the entire Church. It can simultaneously be offered for specific intentions, such as the repose of a persons soul or for a specific intention, which need not be made public and could simply be “for the intentions of <Name>.”

A stipend is customarily paid to the priest for offering a Mass for a specific intention. This stipend is usually $10 and is used at the discretion of the priest for his own upkeep or for acts of charity in which he engages.

The process of having a Mass said for a specific intention is simple. Place a note that says something to the effect of “I would like to have a Mass said on or around <date> for <intention>. Enclosed, please find a stipend of <$##>.” in an envelope and put it in the collection basket, bring it to the office, or deliver it to Deacon Richard, who keeps the Mass schedule. If the date you have requested is open, your intention will be scheduled for that time. If not, it will be scheduled for the nearest open spot. (As you can imagine, Masses are schedule on a first-available basis, and once a Mass is scheduled it cannot be moved without a grave reason.)

If you have questions, please contact Deacon Richard either at richard@richardgross.net or at 816.679-8974.  (And, please!, even though a stipend is given to the priest, please do not refer to this as “buying a Mass.” Masses cannot be bought or sold and Deacon Richard finds the phrase “buying a Mass” slightly more irritating than a jellyfish sting. Please don’t give Deacon Richard a rash.)

The Joint Ecumenical Declaration

Below is the Vatican-provided text of the joint declaration signed in Istanbul by His Holiness Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on November 30, 2014:

Pope_Francis_Patriarch_Bartholomew

COMMON DECLARATION

We, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, express our profound gratitude to God for the gift of this new encounter enabling us, in the presence of the members of the Holy Synod, the clergy and the faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to celebrate together the feast of Saint Andrew, the first–called and brother of the Apostle Peter. Our remembrance of the Apostles, who proclaimed the good news of the Gospel to the world through their preaching and their witness of martyrdom, strengthens in us the aspiration to continue to walk together in order to overcome, in love and in truth, the obstacles that divide us.

On the occasion of our meeting in Jerusalem last May, in which we remembered the historical embrace of our venerable predecessors Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, we signed a joint declaration. Today on the happy occasion of this further fraternal encounter, we wish to re–affirm together our shared intentions and concerns.

We express our sincere and firm resolution, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians, and above all between Catholics and Orthodox.

We express our sincere and firm resolution, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians, and above all between Catholics and Orthodox. As well, we intend to support the theological dialogue promoted by the Joint International Commission, instituted exactly thirty–five years ago by the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios and Pope John Paul II here at the Phanar, and which is currently dealing with the most difficult questions that have marked the history of our division and that require careful and detailed study. To this end, we offer the assurance of our fervent prayer as Pastors of the Church, asking our faithful to join us in praying “that all may be one, that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).

We express our common concern for the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the whole Middle East. We are united in the desire for peace and stability and in the will to promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation. While recognizing the efforts already being made to offer assistance to the region, at the same time, we call on all those who bear responsibility for the destiny of peoples to deepen their commitment to suffering communities, and to enable them, including the Christian ones, to remain in their native land. We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years. Many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have been forced violently from their homes.It even seems that the value of human life has been lost, that the human person no longer matters and may be sacrificed to other interests. And, tragically, all this is met by the indifference of many. As Saint Paul reminds us, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1Cor 12:26). This is the law of the Christian life, and in this sense we can say that there is also an ecumenism of suffering. Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity. The terrible situation of Christians and all those who are suffering in the Middle East calls not only for our constant prayer, but also for an appropriate response on the part of the international community.

As Saint Paul reminds us, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1Cor 12:26). This is the law of the Christian life, and in this sense we can say that there is also an ecumenism of suffering. Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity.

The grave challenges facing the world in the present situation require the solidarity of all people of good will, and so we also recognize the importance of promoting a constructive dialogue with Islam based on mutual respect and friendship. Inspired by common values and strengthened by genuine fraternal sentiments, Muslims and Christians are called to work together for the sake of justice, peace and respect for the dignity and rights of every person, especially in those regions where they once lived for centuries in peaceful coexistence and now tragically suffer together the horrors of war. Moreover, as Christian leaders, we call on all religious leaders to pursue and to strengthen interreligious dialogue and to make every effort to build a culture of peace and solidarity between persons and between peoples. We also remember all the people who experience the sufferings of war. In particular, we pray for peace in Ukraine, a country of ancient Christian tradition, while we call upon all parties involved to pursue the path of dialogue and of respect for international law in order to bring an end to the conflict and allow all Ukrainians to live in harmony.

Inspired by common values and strengthened by genuine fraternal sentiments, Muslims and Christians are called to work together for the sake of justice, peace and respect for the dignity and rights of every person, especially in those regions where they once lived for centuries in peaceful coexistence and now tragically suffer together the horrors of war.

Our thoughts turn to all the faithful of our Churches throughout the world, whom we greet, entrusting them to Christ our Saviour, that they may be untiring witnesses to the love of God. We raise our fervent prayer that the Lord may grant the gift of peace in love and unity to the entire human family.

“May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you” (2 Thess 3:16).

From the Phanar, 30 November 2014

The Protoevangelium of James

The Birth of Mary the Holy Mother of God, and Very Glorious Mother of Jesus Christ

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1. IN THE RECORDS OF THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL was Joachim, a man rich exceedingly; and he brought his offerings double, saying: There shall be of my superabundance to all the people, and there shall be the offering for my forgiveness to the Lord for a propitiation for me. For the great day of the Lord was at hand, and the sons of Israel were bringing their offerings. And there stood over against him Rubim, saying: It is not meet for thee first to bring thine offerings, because thou hast not made seed in Israel. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and went away to the registers of the twelve tribes of the people, saying: I shall see the registers of the twelve tribes of Israel, as to whether I alone have not made seed in Israel. And he searched, and found that all the righteous had raised up seed in Israel. And he called to mind the patriach Abraham, that in the last day God gave him a son Isaac. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and did not come into the presence of his wife; but he retired to the desert, and there pitched his tent, and fasted forty days and forty nights, saying in himself: I will not go down either for food or for drink until the Lord my God shall look upon me, and prayer shall be my food and drink.

2. And his wife Anna mourned in two mournings, and lamented in two lamentations, saying: I shall bewail my widowhood; I shall bewail my childlessness. And the great day of the Lord was at hand; and Judith her maid-servant said: How long dost thou humiliate thy soul? Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand, and it is unlawful for thee to mourn. But take this head-band, which the woman that made it gave to me; for it is not proper that I should wear it, because I am a maid-servant, and it has a royal appearance. And Anna said: Depart from me; for I have not done such things, and the Lord has brought me very low. I fear that some wicked person has given it to thee, and thou hast come to make me a sharer in thy sin. And Judith said: Why should I curse thee, seeing that the Lord hath shut thy womb, so as not to give thee fruit in Israel? And Anna was grieved exceedingly, and put off her garments of mourning, and cleaned her head, and put on her wedding garments, and about the ninth hour went down to the garden to walk. And she saw a laurel, and sat under it, and prayed to the Lord, saying: O God of our fathers, bless me and hear my prayer, as Thou didst bless the womb of Sarah, and didst give her a son Isaac.

3. And gazing towards the heaven, she saw a sparrow’s nest in the laurel, and made a lamentation in herself, saying: Alas! who begot me? and what womb produced me? because I have become a curse in the presence of the sons of Israel, and I have been reproached, and they have driven me in derision out of the temple of the Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the fowls of the heaven, because even the fowls of the heaven are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the beasts of the earth, because even the beasts of the earth are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like these waters, because even these waters are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like this earth, because even the earth bringeth forth its fruits in season, and blesseth Thee, O Lord.

4. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying: Anna, Anna, the Lord hath heard thy prayer, and thou shalt conceive, and shall bring forth; and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world. And Anna said: As the Lord my God liveth, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life. And, behold, two angels came, saying to her: Behold, Joachim thy husband is coming with his flocks. For an angel of the Lord went down to him, saying: Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God hath heard thy prayer Go down hence; for, behold, thy wife Anna shall conceive. And Joachim went down and called his shepherds, saying: Bring me hither ten she-lambs without spot or blemish, and they shall be for the Lord my God; and bring me twelve tender calves, and they shall be for the priests and the elders; and a hundred goats for all the people. And, behold, Joachim came with his flocks; and Anna stood by the gate, and saw Joachim coming, and she ran anti hung upon his neck, saying: Now I know that the Lord God hath blessed me exceedingly; for, behold the widow no longer a widow, and I the childless shall conceive. And Joachim rested the first day in his house.

5. And on the following day he brought his offerings, saying in himself: If the Lord God has been rendered gracious to me, the plate on the priest’s forehead will make it manifest to me. And Joachim brought his offerings, and observed attentively the priest’s plate when he went up to the altar of the Lord, and he saw no sin in himself. And Joachim said: Now I know that the Lord has been gracious unto me, and has remitted all my sins. And he went down from the temple of the Lord justified, and departed to his own house. And her months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month Anna brought forth. And she said to the midwife: What have I brought forth? and she said: A girl. And said Anna: My soul has been magnified this day. And she laid her down. And the days having been fulfilled, Anna was purified, and gave the breast to the child, and called her name Mary.

6. And the child grew strong day by day; and when she was six months old, her mother set her on the ground to try whether she could stand, and she walked seven steps and came into her bosom; and she snatched her up, saying: As the Lord my God liveth, thou shall not walk on this earth until I bring thee into the temple of the Lord. And she made a sanctuary in her bed-chamber, and allowed nothing common or unclean to pass through her. And she called the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews, and they led her astray. And when she was a year old, Joachim made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel. And Joachim brought the child to the priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations. And all the people said: So be it, so be it, amen. And he brought her to the chief priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever. And her mother snatched her up, and took her into the sanctuary of her bed-chamber, and gave her the breast. And Anna made a song to the Lord God, saying: I will sing a song to the Lord my God, for He hath looked upon me, and hath taken away the reproach of mine enemies; and the Lord hath given the the fruit of His righteousness, singular in its kind, and richly endowed before Him. Who will tell the sons of Rubim that Anna gives suck? Hear, hear, ye twelve tribes of Israel, that Anna gives suck. And she laid her to rest in the bed-chamber of her sanctuary, and went out and ministered unto them. And when the supper was ended, they went down rejoicing, and glorifying the God of Israel.

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7. And her months were added to the child. And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anna said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations. In thee, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.

8. And her parents went down marvelling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, test perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord? And they said to the high priest: Thou standest by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto thee, that also will we do. And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed concerning her. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him: Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. And the heralds went out through all the circuit of Judaea, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran.

9. And Joseph, throwing away his axe, went out to meet them; and when they had assembled, they went away to the high priest, taking with them their rods. And he, taking the rods of all of them, entered into the temple, and prayed; and having ended his prayer, he took the rods and came out, and gave them to them: but there was no sign in them, and Joseph took his rod last; and, behold, a dove came out of the rod, and flew upon Joseph’s head. And the priest said to Joseph, Thou hast been chosen by lot to take into thy keeping the virgin of the Lord. But Joseph refused, saying: I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl. I am afraid lest I become a laughing-stock to the sons of Israel. And the priest said to Joseph: Fear the Lord thy God, and remember what the Lord did to Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah; how the earth opened, and they were swallowed up on account of their contradiction. And now fear, O Joseph, lest the same things happen in thy house. And Joseph was afraid, and took her into his keeping. And Joseph said to Mary: Behold, I have received thee from the temple of the Lord; and now I leave thee in my house, and go away to build my buildings, and I shall come to thee. The Lord will protect thee.

10. And there was a council of the priests, saying: Let us make a veil for the temple of the Lord. And the priest said: Call to me the undefiled virgins of the family of David. And the officers went away, and sought, and found seven virgins. And the priest remembered the child Mary, that she was of the family of David, and undefiled before God. And the officers went away and brought her. And they brought them into the temple of the Lord. And the priest said: Choose for me by lot who shall spin the gold, and the white, and the fine linen, and the silk, and the blue, and the scarlet, and the true purple. And the true purple and the scarlet fell to the lot of Mary, and she took them, and went away to her house. And at that time Zacharias was dumb, and Samuel was in his place until the time that Zacharias spake. And Mary took the scarlet, and span it.

11. And she took the pitcher, and went out to fill it with water. And, behold, a voice saying: Hail, thou who hast received grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women! And she looked round, on the right hand and on the left, to see whence this voice came. And she went away, trembling, to her house, and put down the pitcher; and taking the purple, she sat down on her seat, and drew it out. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood before her, saying: Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found grace before the Lord of all, and thou shalt conceive, according to His word. And she hearing, reasoned with herself, saying: Shall I conceive by the Lord, the living God? and shall I bring forth as every woman brings forth? And the angel of the Lord said: Not so, Mary; for the power of the Lord shall overshadow thee: wherefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of the Most High. And thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins. And Mary said: Behold, the servant of the Lord before His face: let it be unto me according to thy word.

12. And she made the purple and the scarlet, and took them to the priest. And the priest blessed her, and said: Mary, the Lord God hath magnified thy name, and thou shall be blessed in all the generations of the earth. And Mary, with great joy, went away to Elizabeth her kinswoman, and knocked at the door. And when Elizabeth heard her, she threw away the scarlet, and ran to the door, and opened it; and seeing Mary, she blessed her, and said: Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? for, behold, that which is in me leaped and blessed thee. But Mary had forgotten the mysteries of which the archangel Gabriel had spoken, and gazed up into heaven, and said: Who am I, O Lord, that all the generations of the earth should bless me? And she remained three months with Elizabeth; and day by day she grew bigger. And Mary being afraid, went away to her own house, and hid herself from the sons of Israel. And she was sixteen years old when these mysteries happened.

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13. And she was in her sixth month; and, behold, Joseph came back from his building, and, entering into his house, he discovered that she was big with child. And he smote his face, and threw himself on the ground upon the sackcloth, and wept bitterly, saying: With what face shall I look upon the Lord my God? and what prayer shall I make about this maiden? because I received her a virgin out of the temple of the Lord, and I have not watched over her. Who is it that has hunted me down? Who has done this evil thing in my house, and defiled the virgin? Has not the history of Adam been repeated in me? For just as Adam was in the hour of his singing praise, and the serpent came, and found Eve alone, and completely deceived her, so it has happened to me also. And Joseph stood up from the sackcloth, and called Mary, and said to her: O thou who hast been cared for by God, why hast thou done this and forgotten the Lord thy God? Why hast thou brought low thy soul, thou that wast brought up in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel? And she wept bitterly, saying: I am innocent, and have known no man. And Joseph said to her: Whence then is that which is in thy womb? And she said: As the Lord my God liveth, I do not know whence it is to me.

14. And Joseph was greatly afraid, and retired from her, and considered what he should do in regard to her. And Joseph said: If I conceal her sin, I find myself fighting against the law of the Lord; and if I expose her to the sons of Israel, I am afraid lest that which is in her be from an angel, and I shall be found giving up innocent blood to the doom of death. What then shall I do with her? I will put her away from me secretly. And night came upon him; and, behold, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, saying: Be not afraid for this maiden, for that which is in her is of the Holy Spirit; and she will bring forth a Son, and thou shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. And Joseph arose from sleep, and glorified the God of Israel, who had given him this grace; and he kept her.

15. And Annas the scribe came to him, and said: Why hast thou not appeared in our assembly? And Joseph said to him: Because I was weary from my journey, and rested the first day. And he turned, and saw that Mary was with child. And he ran away to the priest? and said to him: Joseph, whom thou didst vouch for, has committed a grievous crime. And the priest said: How so? And he said: He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord, and has married her by stealth, and has not revealed it to the sons of Israel. And the priest answering, said: Has Joseph done this? Then said Annas the scribe: Send officers, and thou wilt find the virgin with child. And the officers went away, and found it as he had said; and they brought her along with Joseph to the tribunal. And the priest said: Mary, why hast thou done this? and why hast thou brought thy soul low, and forgotten the Lord thy God? Thou that wast reared in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel, and didst hear the hymns, and didst dance before Him, why hast thou done this? And she wept bitterly, saying: As the Lord my God liveth, I am pure before Him, and know not a man. And the priest said to Joseph: Why hast thou done this? And Joseph said: As the Lord liveth, I am pure concerning her. Then said the priest: Bear not false witness, but speak the truth. Thou hast married her by stealth, and hast not revealed it to the sons of Israel, and hast not bowed thy head under the strong hand, that thy seed might be blessed. And Joseph was silent.

16. And the priest said: Give up the virgin whom thou didst receive out of the temple of the Lord. And Joseph burst into tears. And the priest said: I will give you to drink of the water of the ordeal of the Lord, and He shall make manifest your sins in your eyes. And the priest took the water, and gave Joseph to drink and sent him away to the hill-country; and he returned unhurt. And he gave to Mary also to drink, and sent her away to the hill-country; and she returned unhurt. And all the people wondered that sin did not appear in them. And the priest said: If the Lord God has not made manifest your sins, neither do I judge you. And he sent them away. And Joseph took Mary, and went away to his own house, rejoicing and glorifying the God of Israel.

17. And there was an order from the Emperor Augustus, that all in Bethlehem of Judaea should be enrolled. And Joseph said: I shall enrol my sons, but what shall I do with this maiden? How shall I enrol her? As my wife? I am ashamed. As my daughter then? But all the sons of Israel know that she is not my daughter. The day of the Lord shall itself bring it to pass as the Lord will. And he saddled the ass, and set her upon it; and his son led it, and Joseph followed. And when they had come within three miles, Joseph turned and saw her sorrowful; and he said to himself: Likely that which is in her distresses her. And again Joseph turned and saw her laughing. And he said to her: Mary, how is it that I see in thy face at one time laughter, at another sorrow? And Mary said to Joseph: Because I see two peoples with my eyes; the one weeping and lamenting, and the other rejoicing and exulting. And they came into the middle of the road, and Mary said to him: Take me down from off the ass, for that which is in me presses to come forth. And he took her down from off the ass, and said to her: Whither shall I lead thee, and cover thy disgrace? for the place is desert.

18. And he found a cave there, and led her into it; and leaving his two sons beside her, he went out to seek a midwife in the district of Bethlehem. And I Joseph was walking, and was not walking; and I looked up into the sky, and saw the sky astonished; and I looked up to the pole of the heavens, and saw it standing, and the birds of the air keeping still. And I looked down upon the earth, and saw a trough lying, and work-people reclining: and their hands were in the trough. And those that were eating did not eat, and those that were rising did not carry it up, and those that were conveying anything to their mouths did not convey it; but the faces of all were looking upwards. And I saw the sheep walking, and the sheep stood still; and the shepherd raised his hand to strike them, and his hand remained up. And I looked upon the current of the river, and I saw the mouths of the kids resting on the water and not drinking, and all things in a moment were driven from their course.

19. And I saw a woman coming down from the hill-country, and she said to me: O man, whither art thou going? And I said: I am seeking an Hebrew midwife. And she answered and said unto me: Art thou of Israel? And I said to her: Yes. And she said: And who is it that is bringing forth in the cave? And I said: A woman betrothed to me. And she said to me: Is she not thy wife? And I said to her: It is Mary that was reared in the temple of the Lord, and I obtained her by lot as my wife. And yet she is not my wife, but has conceived of the Holy Spirit. And the midwife said to him: Is this true? And Joseph said to her: Come and see. And the midwife went away with him. And they stood in the place of the cave, and behold a luminous cloud overshadowed the cave. And the midwife said: My soul has been magnified this day, because mine eyes have seen strange things — because salvation has been brought forth to Israel. And immediately the cloud disappeared out of the cave, and a great light shone in the cave, so that the eyes could not bear it. And in a little that light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and went and took the breast from His mother Mary. And the midwife cried out, and said: This is a great day to me, because I have seen this strange sight. And the midwife went forth out of the cave, and Salome met her. And she said to her: Salome, Salome, I have a strange sight to relate to thee: a virgin has brought forth — a thing which her nature admits not of. Then said Salome: As the Lord my God liveth, unless I thrust in my finger, and search the parts, I will not believe that a virgin has brought forth.

20. And the midwife went in, and said to Mary: Show thyself; for no small controversy has arisen about thee. And Salome put in her finger, and cried out, and said: Woe is me for mine iniquity and mine unbelief, because I have tempted the living God; and, behold, my hand is dropping off as if burned with fire. And she bent her knees before the Lord, saying: O God of my fathers, remember that I am the seed of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; do not make a show of me to the sons of Israel, but restore me to the poor; for Thou knowest, O Lord, that in Thy name I have performed my services, and that I have received my reward at Thy hand. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by her, saying to her: Salome, Salome, the Lord hath heard thee. Put thy hand to the infant, and carry it, and thou wilt have safety and joy. And Salome went and carried it, saying: I will worship Him, because a great King has been born to Israel. And, behold, Salome was immediately cured, and she went forth out of the cave justified. And behold a voice saying: Salome, Salome, tell not the strange things thou hast seen, until the child has come into Jerusalem.

21. And, behold, Joseph was ready to go into Judaea. And there was a great commotion in Bethlehem of Judaea, for Magi came, saying: Where is he that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him. And when Herod heard, he was much disturbed, and sent officers to the Magi. And he sent for the priests, and examined them, saying: How is it written about the Christ? where is He to be born? And they said: In Bethlehem of Judaea, for so it is written. And he sent them away. And he examined the Magi, saying to them: What sign have you seen in reference to the king that has been born? And the Magi said: We have seen a star of great size shining among these stars, and obscuring their light, so that the stars did not appear; and we thus knew that a king has been born to Israel, and we have come to worship him. And Herod said: Go and seek him; and if you find him, let me know, in order that I also may go and worship him. And the Magi went out. And, behold, the star which they had seen in the east went before them until they came to the cave, and it stood over the top of the cave. And the Magi saw the infant with His mother Mary; and they brought forth from their bag gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by the angel not to go into Judaea, they went into their own country by another road.

22. And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and under. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was afraid, and took the infant and swaddled Him, and put Him into an ox-stall. And Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, and kept looking where to conceal him. And there was no place of concealment. And Elizabeth, groaning with a loud voice, says: O mountain of God, receive mother and child. And immediately the mountain was cleft, and received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them, watching over them.

23. And Herod searched for John, and sent officers to Zacharias, saying: Where hast thou hid thy son? And he, answering, said to them: I am the servant of God in holy things, and I sit constantly in the temple of the Lord: I do not know where my son is. And the officers went away, and reported all these things to Herod. And Herod was enraged, and said: His son is destined to be king over Israel. And he sent to him again, saying: Tell the truth; where is thy son? for thou knowest that thy life is in my hand. And Zacharias said: I am God’s martyr, if thou sheddest my blood; for the Lord will receive my spirit, because thou sheddest innocent blood at the vestibule of the temple of the Lord. And Zacharias was murdered about daybreak. And the sons of Israel did not know that he had been murdered.

24. But at the hour of the salutation the priests went away, and Zacharias did not come forth to meet them with a blessing, according to his custom. And the priests stood waiting for Zacharias to salute him at the prayer, and to glorify the Most High. And he still delaying, they were all afraid. But one of them ventured to go in, and he saw clotted blood beside the altar; and he heard a voice saying: Zacharias has been murdered, and his blood shall not be wiped up until his avenger come. And hearing this saying, he was afraid, and went out and told it to the priests. And they ventured in, and saw what had happened; and the fretwork of the temple made a wailing noise, and they rent their clothes from the top even to the bottom. And they found not his body, but they found his blood turned into stone. And they were afraid, and went out and reported to the people that Zacharias had been murdered. And all the tribes of the people heard, and mourned, and lamented for him three days and three nights. And after the three days, the priests consulted as to whom they should put in his place; and the lot fell upon Simeon. For it was he who had been warned by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death until he should see the Christ in the flesh.

And I James that wrote this history in Jerusalem, a commotion having arisen when Herod died, withdrew myself to the wilderness until the commotion in Jerusalem ceased, glorifying the Lord God, who had given me the gift and the wisdom to write this history. And grace shall be with them that fear our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory to ages of ages. Amen.

Homily for November 9, 2014 — the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Façade of the Lateran Basilica.

Façade of the Lateran Basilica.

Today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. What, one could fairly ask, is a Lateran Basilica and why do we celebrate it?

A basilica is a specific type of church building; the word itself comes from a Greek term that means “royal house.” There are 1580 minor basilicas in the world and 325 in the Americas. There are 69 basilicas in the United States. My academic preparation before ordination to the Permanent Diaconate was done at Conception Seminary College and Conception Abbey in the northern part of our diocese. Conception Abbey is home to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, which is an incredibly beautiful building and is the heart of both the monastery and the college.

When a church is designated a basilica, it is because of its antiquity, dignity, historical value, architectural and artistic worth, or significance as a center of worship; it is also accorded special ecclesiastical privileges and enjoys a special bond of communion with the Holy Father.

A basilica will have within its space a silk canopy of red and yellow stripes — the traditional papal colors. It will also have a tintinnabulum, which is a bell mounted on a pole. Both of these are carried in procession on special occasions. Minor basilica also enjoy the right to display the crossed keys — the papal symbol — on its banners, furnishing, and seal.

There are four major basilicas in the world, all in Rome. The major basilicas are: St. John Lateran, St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and St. Mary Major. These are papal basilicas.

St. John Lateran Basilica, the dedication of which we celebrate today, is the cathedral of Rome. It is the Pope’s cathedral and as such is the mother church of all Christendom and is the first among churches throughout the world. It was dedicated by Pope Sylvester on this day in the year 324. That means for one-thousand, six-hundred, and ninety years the Lateran Basilica has served Holy Mother Church.

"Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput" ("Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.") Inscription on the façade of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome).

“Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput” (“Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.”) Inscription on the façade of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome).

That’s what a basilica is in general and what the Lateran Basilica is specifically. That is the easy part of the question to answer. The second half of the question — why do we celebrate it? — is slightly harder to answer. To answer that, we have to consider not only what the nature of a church is, but what our own nature is.

In today’s Gospel reading, we encounter Christ making a whip to drive people from the Temple and flipping the tables of merchants who were making the Temple a house of commerce. “He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, ‘Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.’”

Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple, by El Greco

Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple, by El Greco

This was enough to cause the disciples to remember the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house will consume me. Christ was passionate about the Temple.

In the first reading, we hear a beautiful description from Ezekiel about water flowing from the Temple. An angel tells the prophet, ““This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

The Temple is where the Israelite encountered God. It was the house of God. In this respect, it is very much like our church today. This church is the House of God. Christ is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Tabernacle. We receive Him in the Holy Eucharist. This is where we come to encounter God.

Our diocesan cathedral is the mother of all churches in our diocese, and St. John Lateran — the cathedral of the Holy Father — is the mother of all churches in the world. That, in itself, is enough to celebrate it. But let’s take it one step farther.

The Papal cathedra is located in the apse of the Lateran Basilica . The decorations are in cosmatesque style.

The Papal cathedra is located in the apse of the Lateran Basilica . The decorations are in cosmatesque style.

In today’s second reading, Paul writes “Brothers and Sisters: You are God’s building.” You are God’s building. Full stop. Does this mean that God should be inside of me and that others should encounter God Almighty the Eternal Ruler of the Universe when they encounter me? Yes. If I am living the life I am called to live, then yes. Absolutely. This does not mean that I am God, but rather that God dwells within me and within you and within all of the faithful not because of our own merit, but because we have encountered Him in the Church and in the waters of baptism. Just as the prophet saw water flowing from the Temple and renewing the world, so, too, do the waters of baptism flow forth from the Church and renew us, making us the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and preparing us to renew the world.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God,” Paul writes, “and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”

The world may call us consumers, or workers, or voters, but the world is not the final authority. God tells us that we are His Temple, and therefore are holy. The Lateran Basilica is a mirror and a reminder to us; this is true of all churches.

A church should be beautiful and richly decorated because it is the House of the Lord and God deserves the best; it should also be beautiful and richly decorated because it serves as the constant reminder that the life to which we are called is one of great beauty. The beauty of the physical church building reminds us of our Christian dignity and that we are called to the things of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Some would argue that the Church has no business possessing beautiful buildings with priceless murals, fine art, expensive statuary, and rich stained glass. They would argue that those things should be sold and the money used to buy provisions for the poor. Judas once made a very similar argument. The world would be far worse for it.

And so today we celebrate the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and in a certain way we celebrate all churches throughout the world. These are the houses in which God dwells and in which we encounter our Lord and our God. These are the houses that transform us and are a reflection of us.

Brothers and Sisters: we are God’s building. Because of this, we are called to live a life worthy of our Christian dignity. We are called to live a life of beauty and holiness such that we see our lives mirrored daily by the wonderful art and grand architecture of the finest churches.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Conception Abbey, Northwest Missouri.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Conception Abbey, Northwest Missouri.

The Miracle of the Sun

The Cova da Iria at Fatima Portugal on October 13, 1917.

The Cova da Iria at Fatima Portugal on October 13, 1917.

October 13 — Today is the anniversary of The Miracle of the Sun, which was witnessed by many thousands of people in this field.

Cova da Iria (“Irene’s Cove”) was a field which was used for pasture land and which belonged to the Santos family in Fatima, Portugal. Lúcia dos Santos was one of three shepherd children visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary, who brought the children several messages. (The other two are Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto.)

The visitations began on May 13, 1917; on October 13, 1917, the Miracle of the Sun (O Milagre do Sol) was witnessed by more than 30,000 people. The event was officially accepted as a miracle by the Roman Catholic Church on 13 October 1930.

From the Desk of Deacon Richard. . .

Dear Parish Family:

Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find. — From Today’s Gospel


Many from the OLL Parish community took to the main roads in front of the parish last week for the annual Life Chain event. Though I have not heard an exact count of the attendance, I would guess there must have been at least 60 people participating in the event at which we held signs with slogans such as “Life: the First Inalienable Right,” “Adoption is the Loving Option,” and “Abortion Hurts Women”in support of life.

We were received very warmly by passing motorists. Katei kept a running count of motorist reactions during the one-hour event. There were 41 enthusiastic honks, 17 thumbs up or waves, three verbal encouragements, and a “woo-hoo.” I am aware of no negative reaction.

It is up to all of us as Catholics to actively promote a culture of life and to pray for a respect for all human persons from conception until a natural death, and for an increased awareness of the dignity of the human person, created in the likeness and image of God.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard