Material and Spiritual: A False Dichotomy in Handing on the Faith.

English: Inside the Basilica of St. John Later...

English: Inside the Basilica of St. John Lateran Italiano: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – interno Polski: Wnętrze Bazyliki św. Jana na Lateranie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the Feast of the Dedication of Saint John Lateran. It seems odd to recognize the Feast of a building, especially when I think about how this affects passing on the faith to the next generation, but I believe this day holds for us a significance in understanding the faith that we pass on to our children. The story of the Lateran Basilica, erected by Emperor Constantine, serves as the mother of the Church. It is the Pope’s cathedral. The Church is only a temporal reflection of the Spiritual life of the community. I believe the reading from this morning’s Office of Readings says it best about this feast day:

“And if we think more carefully about the meaning of our salvation, we shall realize that we are indeed living and true temples of God. God does not dwell only in structures fashioned by human hands, in homes of wood and stone, but rather he dwells principally in the soul made according to his own image and fashioned by his own hand. Therefore, the apostle Paul says: The temple of God is holy and you are that temple.”….

“My fellow Christians, do we wish to celebrate joyfully the birth of this temple? Then let us not destroy the living temples of God in ourselves by works of evil. I shall speak clearly, so that all can understand. Whenever we come to church, we must prepare our hearts to be as beautiful as we expect this church to be. Do you wish to find this basilica 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 be not in darkness, but that the light of good works shines 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.” —Second Reading from the Office of Readings, “A Sermon by Saint Caesarious of Arles.”

This reading really struck me this morning in a special way of how we prepare ourselves for service and worship and even how we construct our buildings. Think not only of the public places of worship, but also the place of the domestic Church, our homes. How do we build a home that enables us to bring to birth a life in Christ and that Christ will walk the corridors of not only our homes, workplaces, Churches, but also in our everyday life and our very being. This is a great day to make the tangible connection between the physical and the spiritual world that is so often made as a false dichotomy. This Feast Day is a constant reminder that it is in fact a false dichotomy and that the spiritual and the material are intimately united and effect the entire life of the Christian.



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