LATERAN BASILICA-WORLD FREEDOM DAY
2 Maccabees, Chapter 3, Verse 25
A caparisoned horse would be a horse that has its mane and tail decoratively tied and saddle and accoutrements highly decorative with the rider in a golden armor being of kingly or princely rank. This imagery noted shows that God will defend His temple. Heliodorus was on a mission to defraud the temple of its funds when he was struck down by this vision. In many respects it is a shadow of the conversion of Saul when God defends the living temples of His church the new Christians.
The True Temple of God
Some thousand years before the time of Christ, the great Temple of Solomon was built. Previously, the tribes of Israel had worshipped God in sanctuaries housing the ark of the covenant. King David had desired to build a permanent house of God for the ark. But that work was accomplished by his son Solomon, equally famous for his wisdom and his eventual corruption. In the Old Testament, the Temple is often referred to as "the house of the Lord." Sometimes it is called "Zion," as in today's Psalm, a term that also referred to the city of Jerusalem. The Temple was a barometer of sorts for the health of the covenantal relationship between God and the people. Many prophets warned that a failure to uphold the Law and live the covenant would result in the destruction of the Temple. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, warned that having the temple couldn't protect the people from the consequences of their sins: "Put not your trust in these deceitful words: 'This is the Temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord'" (Jer 7:4). In 587 B.C., the Temple was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, marking the start of the exile. During that time, in the 25th year of exile, the prophet Ezekiel had a vision of a new temple (see Ez 40-48). The description of the temple hearkened back in various ways to the first chapters of Genesis (see 2:10-14), including references to pure water, creatures in abundance and unfading trees producing continuous fresh fruit. This heavenly temple, it was commonly believed, would descend from heaven and God would then dwell in the midst of mankind. After the exile, the Temple was rebuilt, then damaged and rebuilt again. Finally, not long before the birth of Christ, Herod built a glorious temple. It was there that Jesus was presented by Mary and Joseph and blessed by Simeon (see Lk 2:22-35) and where he, as a youth, spent time talking to the teachers of the Law (Lk 2:43-50). It was also the setting for the scene described in the Gospel -- the cleansing of the Temple and Jesus' shocking prophecy: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." Was Jesus, in cleansing the Temple, attacking the Temple itself? No. And did Jesus, in making his remark, say he would destroy the temple? No. But, paradoxically, the love of the Son for his Father and his Father's house did point toward the demise of the Temple. "This is a prophecy of the Cross," wrote Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in "The Spirit of the Liturgy." "He shows that the destruction of his earthly body will be at the same time the end of the Temple." Why? Because a new and everlasting Temple was established by the death and resurrection of the Son of God. "With his resurrection the new Temple will begin: the living body of Jesus Christ, which will now stand in the sight of God and be the place of all worship. Into this body he incorporates men." The new Temple of God did, in fact, come down from heaven. It dwelt among man (see Jn 1:14). "It" is a man: "Christ is the true temple of God, 'the place where his glory dwells'; by the grace of God, Christians also become temples of the Holy Spirit, living stones out of which the Church is built" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1197). Through baptism we become joined to the one Body of Christ, and that Body, the Church, is the "one temple of the Holy Spirit" (No. 776). "Come! behold the deeds of the Lord," wrote the Psalmist, "the astounding things he has wrought on earth." Indeed, behold Jesus Christ, the true and astounding temple of God, and worship him in spirit and in truth.
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Today the liturgy celebrates the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, called “mother and head of all the churches of the city and the world.” In fact, this basilica was the first to be built after Emperor Constantine’s edict, in 313, granted Christian’s freedom to practice their religion. The emperor himself gave Pope Miltiades the ancient palace of the Laterani family, and the basilica, the baptistery, and the patriarchate, that is, the Bishop of Rome’s residence — where the Popes lived until the Avignon period — were all built there. The basilica’s dedication was celebrated by Pope Sylvester around 324 and was named Most Holy Savior; only after the 6th century were the names of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist added, and now is typically denominated by these latter. Initially the observance of this feast was confined to the city of Rome; then, beginning in 1565, it was extended to all the Churches of the Roman rite. The honoring of this sacred edifice was a way of expressing love and veneration for the Roman Church, which, as St. Ignatius of Antioch says, “presides in charity” over the whole Catholic communion (Letter to the Romans, 1:1). On this solemnity the Word of God recalls an essential truth: the temple of stones is a symbol of the living Church, the Christian community, which in their letters the Apostles Peter and Paul already understood as a “spiritual edifice,” built by God with “living stones,” namely, Christians themselves, upon the one foundation of Jesus Christ, who is called the “cornerstone” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Ephesians 2:20-22). “Brothers, you are God’s building,” St. Paul wrote, and added: “holy is God’s temple, which you are” (1 Corinthians 3:9c, 17).
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.
Dear friends, today’s feast celebrates a mystery that is always relevant: 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 helps us to become, like her, the “house of God,” living temple of his love.
— Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, November 9, 2008
Things to Do:
- Learn more about St. John Lateran;
- This basilica represents the place of baptism, so it would be a good time to renew your baptismal promises.
- It also represents heaven, so we can meditate on the joys of heaven and God's generosity in giving us sufficient graces to be saved.
- Since St. John Lateran is the Pope's church, say a prayer for our Holy Father.
- From the Catholic Culture Library: Mother Church of the World.
World Freedom Day
In many parts of the world, freedom is something that is taken for granted—the freedom to choose any religion we want (or no religion at all), the freedom to be in a relationship with the person we love, the freedom to travel…the list goes on. Unfortunately, there are many, many places in the world where these freedoms are not available to most people, who are forced to live empty, unfulfilling lives so the rulers of their countries don’t have them thrown in jail or worse. If you don’t know what it means to be afraid to voice your opinion, then you can consider yourself very lucky to live in a place where liberty is a priority as well as a basic human right. And like all good things, liberty should be celebrated, and that’s what World Freedom Day is all about. The World Freedom Day is a federal observance commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall. The day commemorates the end of communism in Eastern and Central Europe and was designated in 2001 by President George W. Bush. It was created to celebrate the reunification of loved ones separated by the Iron Curtain and differing ideologies, and ultimately serves to acknowledge that the resolve of the masses can shift boundaries, break unfavorable resolutions and ultimately determine the type of leadership they desire so as to live is a freer, more fair society.
How to Celebrate World Freedom Day
· The day is celebrated in different ways, depending on who’s celebrating. Conservative groups such as the College Republicans and Young America Foundation encourage students to celebrate the day through activism projects and flyer campaigns, while on the other hand, political activists and commentators see the day as an occasion to recognize President Ronald Reagan as one of the most instrumental personalities in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
· If you are not living in the United States and therefore cannot be politically active in the ways described, don’t worry! There are still plenty of ways you can celebrate this day. Doing some reading about Ronald Reagan is a good start, regardless of your nationality, but there are other figures that played large parts in the fall of Communism as well. Among them are for example Margaret Thatcher, often called the “Iron Lady” due to her determination and resolve, who personally worked with Reagan to undermine the Communist regime.
· Yet another example of a person who was instrumental was a Pole named Karol Wojtyła, more commonly known as Pope John Paul II. The pope helped ordinary Poles and East Europeans banish their fear of Soviet Communism, convincing them that liberation was possible. The prime minister restored her country’s failing economy by reviving the “vigorous virtues” of the British people. The president rebuilt America’s military power, its national morale, and its position as leader of the free world.
· All three of these figures, working together, brought down an evil empire and changed the world for the better, and these are the people that deserve remembrance on World Freedom Day. The Cold War was a time of tension and uncertainty for the West and misery and destruction for the East, so taking the time to find out a bit more about the people that helped put an end to all of this is the perfect way to celebrate this day.
Carl Sagan born 1934
One of the most well-known gurus of scientism was the late Carl Sagan, best known for his popular television series "Cosmos." Sagan was unrelenting in his insistence that the methods and speculations of science are absolutely necessary for the proper understanding of all reality. Science, then, surpasses any other form of knowledge, including religion. In the "religion" of scientism only matter is eternal. "Mother Earth" was for Sagan the only god to be worshipped, as is the case for many who espouse New Age thinking.
In his book "Cosmos," Sagan wrote that "our ancestors worshipped the Sun, and they were far from foolish. And yet the Sun is an ordinary, even a mediocre star. If we must worship a power greater than ourselves, does it now make sense to revere the Sun and stars?" (p. 243).
Put even more simply, scientism is the belief that whatever cannot be experienced by the senses, i.e., seen, touched, heard, etc., simply does not exist. First and foremost, this means that God does not exist because he cannot be subjected to scientific observation and proof.
Recently, scientism has taken a curious turn. Last year scientists at the National Institutes for Health in Bethesda, Md., performed experiments that convinced them that what religion calls the moral conscience is, in fact, nothing more than basic brain activity. Remaining true to the tenets of scientism, these scientists would allow no explanation of moral action other than the claim that that's the way our brains are wired.
What is interesting, however, is that, instead of using science to discredit religion, these scientists seem to be claiming that what people of faith have known all along can now be substantiated by the scientific method. It's an intriguing twist, but in the end scientism reigns supreme.
Harvard neuroscientist and philosopher Joshua Greene, as good an example of scientism as anyone, has stated that his goal as a scientist is "to reveal our moral thinking for what it is: a complex hodgepodge of emotional responses and rational (re)constructions, shaped by biological and cultural forces . . ." There it is. For Greene — as for all good proponents of scientism — not only do conscience and morality have no objective meaning or content or even less do they come from God, the human person is ultimately understood to be no more than the product of cultural and biological forces.
Several decades ago, a Russian cosmonaut returned from his first venture into space and proudly announced that he had been into the heavens and could now verify that God was nowhere to be seen. This finding, of course, fit nicely into the atheistic picture of reality that prevailed in the Soviet Union of those days.
More than simply a glib pronouncement on the non-existence of God, however, the remark was expressive of what has come to be known as "scientism." Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society, provides a good definition of scientism: "Scientism is the scientific worldview that encompasses natural explanations for all phenomena, eschews supernatural and paranormal speculations, and embraces empiricism and reason as the twin pillars of a philosophy of life appropriate for an Age of Science."
This way of thinking is becoming more and more acceptable in what has been called our "age of science." It has infected even people of faith. Nowhere is it more obvious than in the implicit — and even explicit at times — agreement that conscience is, in fact, nothing more than what I think and feel about a particular subject. My own personal thoughts are understood to be little other than the effects of the culture in which I live. And so, even for some Catholics, the moral conscience has little to do with God or his revelation or the natural law. Rather, conscience has everything to do with how I, as an individual, perceive reality. What else could account for the sad fact that many Catholics believe that a crime like abortion could be morally justified in certain situations?
In an age of relativism such as ours, it is vitally important that we appreciate that God is the source of all truth and meaning. He created that world and all that is in it. It is his law that governs right behavior. It is his truth that informs and binds every human conscience. It is his truth that is communicated authoritatively by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. We read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings" (No. 1783).
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART TWO: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
SECTION TWO-THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH
CHAPTER THREE-THE SACRAMENTS AT THE SERVICE OF COMMUNION
ARTICLE 6-THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS
I. Why Is This Sacrament Called "Orders"?
1537 The word order in Roman antiquity designated an established civil body, especially a governing body. Ordinatio means incorporation into an ordo. In the Church there are established bodies which Tradition, not without a basis in Sacred Scripture, has since ancient times called taxeis (Greek) or ordines. and so the liturgy speaks of the ordo episcoporum, the ordo presbyterorum, the ordo diaconorum. Other groups also receive this name of ordo: catechumens, virgins, spouses, widows,....
1538 Integration into one of these bodies in the Church was accomplished by a rite called ordinatio, a religious and liturgical act which was a consecration, a blessing or a sacrament. Today the word "ordination" is reserved for the sacramental act which integrates a man into the order of bishops, presbyters, or deacons, and goes beyond a simple election, designation, delegation, or institution by the community, for it confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a "sacred power" (sacra potestas)5 which can come only from Christ himself through his Church. Ordination is also called consecratio, for it is a setting apart and an investiture by Christ himself for his Church. the laying on of hands by the bishop, with the consecratory prayer, constitutes the visible sign of this ordination.
Thursday is the day of the week that our Lord gave himself up for consumption. Thursday commemorates the last supper. Some theologians believe after Sunday Thursday is the holiest day of the week. We should then try to make this day special by making a visit to the blessed sacrament chapel, Mass or even stopping by the grave of a loved one. Why not plan to count the blessing of the week and thank our Lord. Plan a special meal. Be at Peace.
Today is National Louisiana Day
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus