One Saturday way back when I was studying in Rome, the entire seminary walked over to the Lateran Basilica. One of the four major basilicas in Rome, it is an ancient church, perhaps older than St Peter’s. We were celebrating the November 9 feast day of the dedication of the Basilica, and the homily was delivered by Monsignor Daniel Mueggenborg. The homily was a tour-de-force, because it was so appropriate for the day. Monsignor Mueggenborg also did what any true NAC’er is supposed to do: maintain and keep alive the traditions of the church, by retelling the distinguished history of our faith’s saints, events and places.
While St Peter’s is the typical residence of the Holy Father, the Lateran Basilica in Rome is the headquarters of the Diocese of Rome. The chancery is located there. More importantly, it is the Holy Father’s own church. Because the Pope is the bishop of Rome, his “seat” or cathedral chair, is not in St. Peter’s Basilica. Technically, it resides in the John Lateran Basilica. The Popes often commemorate their connection with the Basilica of John Lateran by celebrating Mass there on the feast day of the Basilica, or sometimes to celebrate Mass with the priests or seminarians of the Diocese of Rome.
On this day when we celebrate “the mother of all churches” in the Roman Catholic church, we should not forget, though, that we are the church. The Old Testament and the New remind us that the people of God are metaphorically referred to as a temple, a vineyard, or a vine and branches, or a sheepfold. We are also the body of Christ. Saint Paul tells us as much in Corinthians: we are many parts, but one body. As you may recall from our All Saints Day homily, we are also a communion saints – the living, the departed, those in heaven, and the angels. All of us pray for each other, most excellently when we celebrate the Mass.
Do pray for your friends and family, especially those with hardened hearts. Their conversion will not come about by accident. God calls good people like yourself to pray for those who most need it.