O HOW LOVELY IS YOUR DWELLING PLACE
By Fr. Abe Arganiosa
On November 9 we celebrate the Feast of Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and on 18th the Dedication of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The Dedication of Churches is an act of thanksgiving to God for giving us the freedom to worship in peace and also to have beautiful temples to behold Him as the One, True, Good and Beautiful expressed in the magnificence of our Basilicas. As the people of St. Louis celebrates this year with joy the anniversary of the Arch which becomes the symbol and pride of our City and so we Catholics give thanks year after year for our Cathedrals through which we encounter God in prayer, adoration and the Sacraments. They are not mere symbols for us but actual place of special encounter with the Divine. Our Basilicas are our very own Mount Sinai, our Nazareth, our Jerusalem through which we communicate with God face to face. That is the reason why King Solomon rejoiced in Spirit beholding the finished Temple of Jerusalem: “O how lovely is your dwelling place O Lord… My heart yearns for your court…” [Ps 84:1-2].
In the same manner, we Catholics love so much our Parish Church. We love so much our Shrines. We love so much our Cathedral Basilicas especially the Four Majors in Rome. They became center of pilgrimage. They became cultural and spiritual landmarks. They inspire us to live the faith and to be with God. Just like the Incarnation of Jesus, in a sacramental manner our church reminds us that “God dwells with us” here on earth… through our Parish Church of Sacred Heart here in Valley Park, in our Cathedral Basilica here in St. Louis and in the chief Basilica of the Universal Church in Rome: The St. John Lateran, the Cathedral of the Pope. The ancient Psalmist added: “Even the sparrows find a home in you…she lays her young on your altar” [Ps 84:3]. We also find our home in our church and consecrate our children on her altar.
God is everywhere. He is with us in the depths of the sea or in the wings of the clouds however, it doesn’t negate the special nature of our churches because the Holy Eucharist is kept there for our adoration and worship. As our home is special because it is where Mom and Dad is the church is very special for being the Sanctuary of the Body of the Lord. Moreover, the Church and the Bishop of Rome is our guarantee of Apostolic Succession. We are in communion with Sts. Peter and Paul through the Bishop of Rome the Successor of St. Peter. Our Church directly inherited its faith as well as its sacraments from the Lord Jesus through the Apostles. As we are proud of being an American by birth or by carrying the genes and names of our Family we also glory in our Baptismal Birth into the Church praised and honored in Scripture: “To all that are at Rome, the beloved of God, called to be saints. Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I give thanks to my God, through Jesus Christ, for you all: because your faith is spoken of in the whole world” [Rom 1:7-8].
On the other hand, this truth reminds us also to be humble to our brothers and sisters of other faith. We must not succumb to triumphalism. Our love of our home must lead to love of neighbors. Our being American leads us to respect other people of various race and colors and tongue. In turn our love of being Catholic teaches us to respect others. Thus, let us give thanks and rejoice in Lord for being members of the Catholic Church, let our hearts proclaim: “One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple” [Ps 27:4].