Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Being Catholic (Reflections on the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran)

It is one of the great joys of being a Catholic, that we can go anywhere on the face of the earth, in any country, and in every continent, and feel ourselves at home in our church.

Wherever we go, our mass is the same. The language may be different, but whether in English or French, German or Italian, Spanish, Japanese or Chinese, the mass is the same. The sacraments are the same, our clergy are the same. There is a great unity and cohesiveness to us, despite the differences in language, race, and nationality.

A Catholic is a person who can go anywhere on earth, and receive communion, go to confession, and celebrate the sacraments, wherever a catholic church is. We are more than a billion strong, a sixth of humanity, and still growing.

Today’s feast of the dedication of the basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, the so-called “Mother Church of Christianity” is really a celebration of our being catholic, our being part of a worldwide communion that is recognizable anywhere on the planet.

Ordinarily, the feastdays of churches are celebrated only in the churches themselves. But the basilica of Saint John Lateran is not only one of the oldest churches in Christianity, it is also regarded as a symbol of our unity as Catholics throughout the world. It is a reminder of what for us Catholics, church is really all about, it’s about “community”, it’s about seeing ourselves truly as “sons and daughters”, children of God, and therefore responsible for one another.

While today’s feast celebrates the physical structure of a church, it is really a celebration of our spiritual bond with Catholics, spread throughout every land and nation on earth. And it is a reminder for us, that spreading the message of the Gospel through the witness of our lives, is a continuing task for each one of us.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)