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The Dedication of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior
commonly called St John Lateran (under Pope Sylvester in 324)
Please, I beg of you, take a few moments out of your busy schedule today and go say a prayer for your poor, persecuted uncle in the Mother Church of the whole world. If God has been so good as to allow you to spend this semester in Rome, the least you can do for an imprisoned uncle is afford me this small consolation. It was there, in that ancient and magnificent building, in that prayer captured in stone, the cathedral of Rome, the first of the public basilicas erected after the first three centuries of the Church’s existence – it was there that I first began to fall in love with Catholicism, and there that I spent my afternoons during that fateful year when God called me to the mission I am still engaged in now. I know, of course, that we do not need beautiful buildings in order to worship God – but they certainly can help! And just thinking of the millions of pilgrims that have passed through the doors of that basilica – those front doors, those huge bronze doors that the Christians removed from the Roman Senate at Constantine’s behest, as if to mark the end of the ancient world and the beginning of the Christian age – just the thought of all those pilgrims makes my eyes water. We have been given such a great gift, my dear nephew, to have inherited the one true faith. I do hope you are taking time enough to soak your soul in the many monuments to that faith that decorate the Eternal City. Don’t waste all your free time gamboling around the bars, as so many American college students do on their semester overseas. Open the eyes of your heart to the beauties of this Church, which God supplies to carry us into his heavenly embrace. Fall in love with the Church, and let that love fill you with enthusiasm for the eternal Kingdom…
Well, I am getting a bit carried away. Do forgive me – a passing spasm of self-pity and egoism. Ugh. Count on my prayers.