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Dedicated Brokenness: Weekly Message for 11-8-16
Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, pax Christi:
In tomorrow’s liturgy we celebrate the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Why do we celebrate the dedication of a Basilica, you might ask?
The magnificent Basilica of St. John Lateran is a Cathedral Church of Rome. It is not only the oldest among the four papal major basilicas, it is also the ecclesiastical seat of the Pope. A Latin inscription in the Church reads: “omnium ecclesiarum Urbis et Orbis mater et caput,” which means “The mother and head of all churches of the city and of the world.” Quite a title!
The Basilica of St. John Lateran has a special place in the memory of the Church, first dedicated by Pope Sylvester I in the year 324. When centuries of persecution ended with Constantine’s edict in 313 granting Christians the right to practice their faith in public, St. John Lateran became the first basilica where Christians could worship freely. Throughout its long history, St. John Lateran has hosted five ecumenical councils, and has been rebuilt as many times due to earthquake and fires. It is fitting that we honor the dedication of this Roman church because of its historical and spiritual role in the life of the Church.
Exactly one month ago today, RCSpirituality’s “Going Deeper” pilgrim group had the privilege of passing through the Basilica’s Holy Doors, marveling at its spiritual and physical beauty. Of all the holy places and sites we visited, it was the Basilica of St. John Lateran that introduced me to an image that continues to encourage me in these last weeks of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy.
‘Dedication of brokenness’ as Mercy.
Walking into this splendid basilica with its cacophony of artistic styles, one’s view is drawn from the shadows of the side aisles towards the ceiling illuminated by light. Exquisite marble statues of the apostles direct your path along the nave, encouraging you to walk toward Christ at the center. However, not the statutes, nor the impressive Baldachino containing the relics of Saints Peter and Paul, nor the marvelous ceiling mosaics most captured my attention.
What really captivated me was the floor of the entire Basilica covered with decorative Roman “Cosmatesque” tiles. Broken pieces of marble and glass are geometrically laid in stone representing the diversity of cultures from which they originate. Gathered from former temples and ruins of the surrounding Roman forum, these tiles form intertwining circular patterns that reflect each person’s journey toward Christ.
Like the artisans that worked with these Cosmatesque tiles, God in His Mercy is at work in our lives. He integrates the old, broken pieces of the pagan culture, as if from crumbling marble statues, and creates something new and beautiful for us. God continually speaks to our hearts and minds, reminding us that He makes “all things new.” (Rev 21:5)
My pilgrimage to the Eternal City was a microcosm of my spiritual journey throughout this Extraordinary Year of Mercy, which beckons all of us to recognize the mystery of God’s mercy in our lives. So with tomorrow’s feast let us not be afraid to ‘dedicate our brokenness’ to God’s mercy. Let us continue to pray for each other, that we will be open and docile to whatever the Lord wants to give us, or asks of us, in these precious last weeks of this Extraordinary Year of Mercy.
With the assurance of my prayers,