Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
While St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican is more closely associated with the papacy, St. John Lateran is actually the cathedral for the Bishop of Rome, and so the “mother church” of the Catholic Church. The readings today show Jesus’ body as the true Temple, who cannot be destroyed. In the Body of Christ, there is a fundamental unity. Even though the Catholic Church is spread throughout the world, and has existed in the world for almost 2,000 years, we are united in our faith in the Risen Lord, and given grace and support in that unity through the sacraments. John Lateran, as the Cathedral of Rome, is where that universal faith finds concrete expression as a place where we may all go to worship, pray, and receive the sacraments. When we celebrate the feast of St. John Lateran, we celebrate one of the great signs of that unity.
Today can also be a day where we reflect on how well we actually live such unity out. First of all, as Karl Rahner pointed out in his book on the Exercises, we distance ourselves from the Church through sin. The Church is not simply an ancient version of the Rotary Club, but a spiritual communion. As a result, when we damage our spiritual lives, we damage our union with the Church. Do we have the gift of Sentire cum Ecclesia (thinking, being aware, and experiencing with the Church) that St. Ignatius spoke of at the end of the Spiritual Exercises? In these rules, we ought to be more willing to find praise than fault in the Church, and be willing to acknowledge that we on our own cannot wrap our minds around God and Divine Revelation. On a feast which celebrates the unity of the Church, we may find much profit in reflecting on these concrete guides for living this unity out in our lives.