Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Lateran Basilica and the House He's Building

Today we celebrate the feast of a building, and from there we think about other buildings of the more metaphorical sort.

To recap from previous years, we devote a feast to the Lateran Basilica because it is the cathedral church of the Pope. It is called the Mother Church of Christendom. The original structure was erected by the emperor Constantine. So yes,it's worth commemorating. If you haven't tried this Virtual Tour before then set aside some time and prepare yourself for a treat.

What I love about today's Liturgy of the Hours is the way it runs with the idea of God's house, God's temple, God's dwelling place. And how the antiphons and pslams don't just remain at the level of the Temple--look at the antiphon for the Benedictus: Zacchaeus...this day salvation has come to his house!

Every house can become His holy temple! And then...

Every heart. Check out the Office of Readings, where St. Caesarius of Arles tells us:

Do you with this basilica to be 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 not be 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, and I shall walk the corridors of their hearts. 

All this brought to mind a favorite passage from C.S. Lewis where he makes great use of the house analogy: "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

There's also another metaphor in today's Liturgy, the one where St. Paul calls each of us a "Living Stone" in an edifice God is building. That brought to mind this lovely song by Audrey Assad, with which I'll leave you today.