Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica: What's that got to do with closing churches?
Constantine erected the Lateran Basilica in Rome, and it has been venerated as the mother church of Christendom ever since. Catholics celebrate the dedication, consecration of churches - a custom rooted in Jewish custom and liturgy with the feast of the Dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Christ observed the feast himself. I'm not going into any scholarly, liturgical detail with this except to point out another irony, or paradox in Catholicism.
We dedicate - consecrate - sacred buildings, temples, or in our tradition - churches. Frequently the edifices are works of beautiful architecture and art, constructed at great expense and sacrifice by the faithful - the real 'living stones' of God's holy temple. Over the centuries many churches have been sacked through war and revolution, and frequently profaned by anti-Christian, anti-Catholic elements. Many times the desecrated sanctuaries have been re-dedicated, although in some cases they have become museums. Less prominent churches have been turned into bars and nightclubs, or businesses. Others have often been taken over by protestant denominations.
Today Catholic dioceses are closing down churches once consecrated for sacred use - in greater numbers it seems. Selling off beautiful Catholic churches to the highest bidder. Some are simply demolished. I know all the reason put forth; fewer priests, dwindling congregations, expense, etc.. All very reasonable and in full accord with provisions in canon law.
Christian life is full of apparent paradox, isn't it.
No, that wasn't a question.
Photo: Facade of The Basilica of St. John Lateran. Check out Wiki for everything you ever wanted to know about the basilica.