Category Archives: Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments

Dedication of St John Lateran Basilica

The Basilica of Saint John Lateran is the cathedral church of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, and not Saint Peter’s Basilica as many would think. The Liturgy given to us is the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica because it is the oldest and highest ranking of the four major basilicas in Rome. The Lateran is the oldest church in the West, constructed in the era of the Emperor Constantine and consecrated by Pope Sylvester in AD 324.

What do we celebrate with this feast? We don’t celebrate a building as magnificent as it is; we don’t honor the craftsmanship of the building as important and relevant as this idea is because of beauty and harmony in themselves. But, we do recognize as Pope Benedict XVI said on this feast in 2008: “The beauty and harmony of the churches, destined to give praise to God, also draws us human beings, limited and sinful, to convert to form a “cosmos,” a well-ordered structure, in intimate communion with Jesus, who is the true Saint of saints. This happens in a culminating way in the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the “ecclesia,” that is, the community of the baptized, come together in a unified way to listen to the Word of God and nourish themselves with the Body and Blood of Christ. From these two tables the Church of living stones is built up in truth and charity and is internally formed by the Holy Spirit transforming herself into what she receives, conforming herself more and more to the Lord Jesus Christ. She herself, if she lives in sincere and fraternal unity, in this way becomes the spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.” Hence, we honor the fact that Jesus Christ through his Apostles and disciples founded a church for our salvation and the proper teaching of the Christian Gospel.

Again Benedict said: “God’s desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23-24). But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God. Every community therefore has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony. For this we call upon the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that she help us to become, like her, the “house of God,” living temple of his love” (November 9, 2008).

A feast with a universal observance, the Church tells us that the archbasilica, the ecclesiastical mother church, called “the mother and mistress of all churches of Rome and the world” (omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput).

Saint Bernard, Sermon for the Dedication of a Church gives a particular insight into what we do liturgically:

Today’s feast, brothers, ought to be all the more devout as it is more personal. For other celebrations we have in common with other ecclesiastical communities, but this one is proper to us, so that if we do not celebrate it nobody will. It is ours because it concerns our church; ours because we ourselves are its theme. You are surprised and even embarrassed, perhaps, at celebrating a feast for yourselves. But do not be like horses and mules that have no understanding. Your souls are holy because of the Spirit of God dwelling in you; your bodies are holy because of your souls and this building is holy because of your bodies. 

Purgatorial Society

all-soulsWe are quickly coming to November when we pray for the Souls in Purgatory. We enter into this venerable practice of remembering our loved ones, and those who have no one to pray for them, with certainty that our prayers are lovingly heard by the Most Blessed Trinity. Let us remember the souls before God at the altar.
The form for enrollment St Gregory Purgatorial Society is noted at this link.
The annual Mass for the enrolled members in the Purgatorial Society is November 2nd; thereafter the members are remembered at the Altar on each First Friday.
St. Gregory Purgatorial Society, P. O. Box 891, New Haven, CT 06504

Feast of the The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, Italy. 12th-13th cenFrom a Homily by John Paul II, 14 September 2003:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Cross is the “privileged place” where the love of God is revealed and shown to us. On the Cross human misery and divine mercy meet. The adoration of this unlimited mercy is for man the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals.

The Cross is planted in the earth and would seem to extend its roots in human malice, but it reaches up, pointing as it were to the heavens, pointing to the goodness of God. By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted.

In the Garden of Eden, at the foot of the tree, there was a woman, Eve (cf. Gen 3). Seduced by the Evil One, she takes possession of what she thinks is divine life. Instead it is a seed of death which enters into her (cf. Jas 1:15; Rom 6:23).

On Calvary, at the foot of the tree of the cross, there was another woman, Mary (cf. Jn 19:25-27). Accepting God’s plan, she shares intimately in the Son’s gift of self to the Father for the life of the world and, receiving from Jesus the entrustment of John the Apostle, she becomes the Mother of all mankind.

Image: Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, Italy. 12th-13th century.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

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He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24)

Today is the solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is our firm and certain belief that Jesus’ death transfigures us into true life. The Cross is the key to Heaven. Today, we are reminded again that that Jesus Christ’s Death and Resurrection changed everything!

Ave Crux Spes Unica!

Transfiguration of the Lord

transfiguration-fresco-visoki-decani-monastery-serbiaIn 1999, Saint John Paul preached this idea: “In the event of the Transfiguration we contemplate the mysterious encounter between history, which is being built every day, and the blessed inheritance that awaits us in heaven in full union with Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.”

The faith requires our openness to the surprising work of God. Today we hear the call of the Lord in the narrative of the Transfiguration; this biblical datum is given to us twice in the liturgical year. For those interested not only in the theology of the feast but also in language we should consider the origins of the word. In the Greek, the word is metamorphoo, from which our English “metamorphosis” comes, and connotes transformation. This word is used in speaking of the transfiguration in Matthew and Mark, but also appears in Paul’s letters, usually translated as “transformed” or “changed.” While secularism pushed the notion of life-changing events as important and a marketable commodity, the Lord and his Apostle have something else to offer us. Today as we tackle the meaning of the Lord’s  own transfiguration and our own, we too have to climb the mountain with Jesus to witness the intimacy of his glory and to see the Father’s power at work in Jesus. This event, like that of the Baptism of the Lord, reveals Jesus’ belovedness and divine sonship. At this time in the summer we see caterpillars becoming beautiful butterflies. In Romans 12:2,  Saint Paul urges us to “be transfigured by the renewing of our minds.” Turn from sin to grace.

St. Cyril of Alexandria makes an experiential connection with change in theological terms. “He who receives Communion is made holy and Divinized in soul and body in the same way that water, set over a fire, becomes boiling. … Communion works like yeast that has been mixed into dough so that it leavens the whole mass: … Just as by melting two candles together you get one piece of wax, so, I think, one who receives the Flesh and Blood of Jesus is fused together with Him by this Communion, and the soul finds that he is in Christ and Christ is in him.”

So we come to believe as John Paul II taught: “we are made for eternity and eternity begins at this very moment, since the Lord is among us and lives with and in his Church.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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