FRIDAY HOMILY - It's About a Person More Than a Place
this clearly, in stating:
When Christ instituted the Twelve, "he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them." Just as "by the Lord's institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another."
"For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered." (CCC 880, 882)
We cannot be in communion as the Church on earth apart from our unity around Supreme Pontiff as the head. The understanding of communion links us at all levels of the Church, as bishops, priests, deacons and laity, as an established unity with those in delegated authority over us.
Ignatius, one of the early Apostolic Fathers, admonished the Church to maintain this kind of unity. "See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it." (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans)
You can see a beautiful Papal Cathedra (the seat of the Pope) located in the apse of the basilica as our reminder of this important relationship.
Solidarity with each other as CatholicsToday's feast also gives a great sense of our unity. our solidarity with other faithful Catholics who have maintained their loyalty to the magisterium in communion with the whole Church.
For a long time the Lateran bapistry was the only one in Rome. Generations of Roman believers were baptized in these waters. Our connection to each other begins with this sacrament, which is the gateway to all the others as well as our unity.
The Catechism tells us that the faithful who have been baptized "are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World."
"By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will. . . (CCC 897, 898)
The laity has a special connection, then to the Lord Jesus Christ. Collectively and individually they express the life of the Church in the world and become His presence and His purposes in their vocation and other aspects of daily living.
As a convert, one of the greatest experiences I had in coming into the Church was gaining a greater sense of the solidarity we can have one with another. We can visit other parishes and find the faithful who are living their lives as we are, in union with each other, their bishop and the Holy Father.
This solidarity also makes it even more painful when we encounter those who profess to be Catholics and yet have dismissed certain tenets of faith or teachings of the Church. We feel that loss of unity and the disconnect.
In 1726, Pope Benedict XIII, assigned the following commemoration for the Lateran Basilica to the present day.
"What was done here, as these walls were rising, is reproduced when we bring together those who believe in Christ. For, by believing they are hewn out, as it were, from mountains and forests, like stones and timber; but by catechizing, baptism and instruction they are, as it were, shaped, squared and planed by the hands of the workers and artisans. Nevertheless, they do not make a house for the Lord until they are fitted together through love."
For most of us, our local parish becomes our principle participation in unity. Yet, the Church is so much bigger and greater than just what we see around us.
Holy Mother Church reaches around the globe and embraces both those royalty and those in rags. She includes the free and those enslaved.
Above all, the Church is the people of God from all four corners of the earth, with manifold cultural expressions and multiple liturgies, who together profess that "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:4,5)
----- Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: St. John Lateran, Lateran Basilica, Papal Cathedra, Bishop of Rome, Fr. Randy Sly
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