Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Feast Of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Boy that's a mouthful! Why is this important and why do I as an ex-protestant get jazzed up about it? Here's the story:

In the fourth century, Emperor Constantine donated land that had been given to him by the wealthy Lateran family for the basilica to be built. (No, he didn't make a deal with the devil to import paganism into Christianity, as Jack Chick would have us believe!) The pope (AKA the bishop of Rome) needed a place to celebrate Mass. Constantine being sympathetic to Christianity after his epiphany ended the persecution against the Christians. A palace had previously stood in the place of the basilica and this palace was given to the Church. (I suspect this is where some of the fundamentalist's myths regarding paganism and Catholicism come from.)
So every bishop needs a place to celebrate Mass and as St Ignatius said in 107 AD, "Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic church." But the pope is not only the bishop of Rome but also of the worldwide Church. The Basilica of St John Lateran is not only the see of Rome but is the spiritual home parish for Catholics throughout the world.
This jazzes me because it ties a 'physicality' to our faith and illustrates a unity to our faith that is not found in non-Catholic christianity. The Church truly is a "lamp set on a hill", to be seen, not invisible and under the radar. There could never be a seat of all the other churches because there is truly no agreement among them regarding the essentials of faith. Any Catholic in the world can go to Mass at St John's and will feel "at home." Because the faith is the same and Jesus becomes present on the altar of sacrifice during the consecration as He does on all the altars throughout the world.
So as a Catholic, I can point to the Basilica of St John Lateran and say: "Hey, there's a real physical church that represents the center of all that we believe. Even more importantly, this Church can trace its physical and spiritual roots to Jesus and the apostles!
Finally, this basilica, the physical and spiritual home of the Catholic faith contains some amazing relics:
1)Part of the table on which the Last Supper was celebrated is said to behind a bronze depiction of the Last Supper.
2)Inside the main altar is a wooden altar upon which Peter said Mass when he was in Rome.
3)The stairs of Pilate's house on which Jesus walked were moved to the basilica by Constantine's mother in the fourth century.


Blogger Jackie Parkes said...

Thanks for this post..

November 10, 2008 3:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's beautiful! Our separated brethren have no physical visible objects which represent their unity or their historicity. An American Episcopalian might point to his old 18th century church and say "Look at how long our church has been around" But when you examine more closely the doctrines of those original occupants and compare them with today's Episcopalians there would be little resemblance.

An Evangelical might say about her fellow Evangelical brothers and sisters, "We are one because we all believe in the Bible," but 2 or 3 Evangelicals can't agree on a whole lot when it comes to interpreting Scripture. If they did, you wouldn't see a storefront church opening up every other week.

November 10, 2008 7:45 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

I suppose that in my old life as a protestant I would have replied : "Churches, we don't need no stinking Churches, to remind us of the unity of our faith. We have Jesus and we are his invisible church."
Maybe so, but the presence of a physical Church where the successor of Peter continues to celebrate the Mass(with actual relics from the last supper) is pretty convincing, at least to me.

November 10, 2008 7:54 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

thanks Jackie
I liked your explanation of the feast much better!

November 10, 2008 7:54 AM  

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