Saint John Lateran Basilica, Rome, Vatican City

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

ParishWorld.net is taking this opportunity to communicate an important element of our Catholic Faith tradition that we do not often consider. It has to do with the churches that have played an important role in our history as Christians. It may come as a surprise to you that buildings should be so important to our religion. The greater surprise to you, we imagine, is that the churches that we are going to mention here are not local to us. If they were, it would perhaps be easier to understand. After all, we all have a certain attachment to the church that we
attended while we were growing up. We generally feel an emotional link to the church where we were baptized. If we attended a parochial school, we have feelings for the church to which the school was attached. Let's make the jump from those local churches that occupy a corner of our hearts because the are a part of our immediate life experience. Let's jump to Rome. Are you ready? Good.

Rome is home to some very special churches. The most important ones are called Major Basilicas. The largest of them, and the most well-known is St.Peter's Basilica. The other three are St. Mary Major (Santa Maria de las Nieves), St. Paul Outside the Walls and finally St. John Lateran. These churches are very old. All of them had their foundation in the fourth century AD.

All of them have special universal feast days set aside to celebrate their dedication. Their meaning is buried deeply in the consciousness of the Church. It is the mystery of the first and most powerful sign of the Church, UNITY. These churches are our churches. They bring the mystery of our Church's unity to us. every time we are reminded of their durable existence, we are brought closer to the eternal presence of Jesus among us. Most of us love St.Peter's Basilica. It is the one that we know because it is the "star" of the four. It is the spectacular one that is featured in pictures, almost like the ID card of the Latin Catholic church. It is the first one that tourists want to visit. It is the one that is the regular venue of large, public events. It is the one that contains pieces of priceless art that enrich all of humankind.

Yet, it is not the first in line in importance when it comes to its relationship with he more intimate workings, material and spiritual of the Church. That honor belongs to St. John Lateran. It is the oldest Basilica. It is the first "See" (chair) of the Bishop of Rome, who happens to be whomever is pope at the time. This is the First Church in line in the world of the Latin Church because it is the cathedral of the Pope in his official role as bishop of Rome. This means that it is the symbol of our faith not only of the apostolic succession starting with Peter followed by popes, bishops and priests but of David's Temple followed by all the great churches erected by the communities of people who followed the teachings of Jesus.

That is why we celebrate the dedication and consecration of these wonderful temples. We revere them just as we revere and respect other holy people and holy things in our lives as Catholics. We offer you these thoughts because we hope that they will enrich your lives as disciples of Christ who lives on in these signs of His love for us and our love for Him.
Now a little challenge to you all. Without looking it up, in Google or anywhere else, how many more churches that have an impact on the spiritual lives of the Communion of Saints can you name? Put your answer in the comment section and we will give a short comment about the history of the church that you name.


Thank you from a Cradle Catholic

I am US based on the East Coast. I reside in VA and work in NC. I've been in IT almost since graduating from college. I'm at work right now but will be heading home in a while to watch the Dodgers-Cubs game 3. If you don't follow baseball I'm sure you at least hear a lot about it these days since both LA area teams are in the playoffs. I am pulling for both LA teams only because I am anti-Cubs and Red Sox.

I think I am a typical cradle Catholic, don't know if that is good or bad. I try to make it to church every Sunday, most of the time late. I plan to be a tour area's participation in The National Life Chain tomorrow. I did not register though, because I never commit to anything. I enjoy watching some of the shows on EWTN.This is probably the same reason I wander into ParishWorld when I have the chance.Since I am in an area where Catholics are a minority, I have to rely on the internet and TV to get into the "Catholic world". I want to know what the Vatican's views are and how they speak to the issues.


Three Essential Questions

I agree with Phil Bloom. I agree with the reflections and meditations and homelies found in the magazine today. They are well thought out and underscore the spiritual depth of the authors. I appreciate them all. They make me think and they make me reach out to God Himself. In that sense, I know that it is going to be a good weekend. I am going to add something to the weekend because I hardly ever am given the opportunity to meditate on the impact that the geography of the Gospels has on what it is that God is trying to tell us. Homelists don't consider it important, I guess.

This is the second Sunday that important revelatory spiritual events take place. None of them occur in the "Holy Land" but in ghe territory of the pagans, the "others", like the Greeks and the Romans. Last Sunday we heard the story of the Canaanite woman with the daughter possessed by demons. This Sunday we hear the confession of Peter. Next Sunday we are going to hear about Peter begging Jesus not to go to Jerusalem. Jesus is then going to tell Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan." Whoa! Where did that come from?

In these three Sunday stories, geography is important. Jesus is spending some time in the mixed territory of the Greek and Roman empires. There are very few Jews here (Hebrews). Jesus and His people are over 100 miles to the north of the spiritual heart of the Promised Land. The Temple is 4 or 5 days of foot travel away. The people who are approaching Jesus are "foreigners", not of the chosen people, yet they confess His Divine Power in front of His Jewish disciples.
These disciples who are Orthodox Jews (Hebrews) of proper religion and blood. The "foreign" people stand up in front of Him and ask for what they need. They bargain with Him and they get what they request. Next Sunday, Peter, the tough guy, the ONE who has been told that he is the Rock, the foundation of the new community is going to act just like a real Jew, he is going to say, "Don't talk like that, nothing like that is going to happen to you." Yup, this is the same Peter who asked to walk on water but who doubted once his feet got wet. This is the same Peter who heard the Syro-Phoenician woman tell Jesus, "Even the dogs eat from the droppings of the king's table."
All this is happening in territory that is not spiritually orthodox. Did Jesus make a mistake by coming here? NO. Jesus is the quintessential missionary. Son of David, Son of God does not camp out in Jerusalem (City of Peace), he grows up and preaches in the land of Israel, not in the land of Judah. He goes to Jerusalem to fulfill the law that says that all Jewish men must go to the Temple to pray at least once per year.

The rest of the time He operates in the North, in Galilee. He spreads the message to the Chosen People and the "foreigners" in the North showing them that He is sent by the Father to EVERYONE, not just to the sons of Judah but to all the people of God. He shows them that the fisherman takes all that he catches on board and sorts it out when he gets to the dock. He teaches them that God chose them for a purpose, and the He is among them to teach them what the purpose is.

Finally, at the end he goes to Jerusalem and meets the rabid community of the Chosen People around the Temple. They capture Him and do Him in by using the Roman military to carry out the deed. This fulfills the history of the prophets sent by God to the Chosen people...they preached and were killed because of the hardness of heart of the people.

These Gospel stories are geography lessons. They are stories of revelation. They are also history lessons of where the Chosen People of God settled and how they related to Him. The people of the North (Israel) were considered to be hicks and red-necks by the snobs of the South (Judah).

Listen to the stories that are being recounted at the Sunday Masses this month. Matthew is telling us a lot. He is telling us that the revelation of God is not meant only for a select few, but for EVERYONE, circumcized or not; born in Judah or born in Syria; Phoenician or Roman.

If you want to have a better understanding and a greater appreciation of the revelation contained in the Sacred Scripture, read the map every time you read the Bible. Try not to die before you get to meet Jesus on His home turf.

Remember that you heard it here. It will help you to hold back your tears at my funeral.

Paul Dion, STL


Abortion as an Elections 2008 Catholic Issue

Editor's Note: In an email exchange, I shared with my friend Alan this article by Pat Buchanan, "A Catholic Case against Obama."

Alan responded with the following email. My response to him is below. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us regarding this exchange.

This is where the line is drawn. I personally doesn't condone late term abortion, but I am also for separation of church and state. I believe that government should not based its legislation from the bible or koran or from the book of Mormons, this is a thin line to theocracy and democracy. Because if we do, we might as well ban divorce, ban sex unless its purpose was for pro creation only, and maybe make it mandatory for all Christian to attend the weekly services and legalized work on Saturday and Sundays (depending on which Christian denomination). The list is long but if we need to be consistent to the teaching of the church, we will do it all the way, and not just be selective.

Here's my response to Alan


Even Jesus said we should give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. The Catholic Church is not for a theocracy. God, through our Catholic Church, tells his people to live their lives according to His will. We know His laws, we know His love for all of us. He also gave us individual free choice to do what we want. And we will have to reckon with Him at the end for the choices we make.

That being said, Catholics should strive to live their lives the way they are expected to do so by God. But we're not perfect and we all falter. We become weak many times and sin against God. Or we become totally insidious to God's love and refuse to admit that something we want is against His will. And in the end, it's still always our choice.

The teachings of Jesus are clear. The Church has never wavered in preaching what God wants his faithful to do. The Catholic Church – the bride of Jesus on earth – will not compromise despite pressure from individuals who want the Church to change based on their personal whim and convenience. That is not the way of God. He is a loving God but He is God, not us. Many people have chosen to leave the Catholic Church in their search for the faith that they think is convenient for their personal beliefs. That is their personal choice to walk away from God and His church. God gave them that choice.

The world challenges our faith everyday as Catholics and these 2008 presidential elections are no different. America will never be a theocracy as you fear even if Catholics are in charge 100%. Jesus' teachings on that are very clear. The Church's teaching on this is best summarized by Cardinal Mahony in the quote I place below:

"While we acknowledge the right and the need for our government to enforce the law, we must remind our fellow Americans that man-made law does not permit the violation of God's law. And by repairing the law, we are better able to enforce it in a humane manner."

That is the Catholic position. It is a position of Love according to God's will, not man's nor any individual's. We can choose to ignore Him and do our own will. We can choose to ignore Him and find another Church. But that does not change the fact that He is God and our Catholic Church is his vessel on earth.

As the Archbishop of San Fernando in the Philippines said, this week, "If you are Catholic, you should behave like a Catholic. Otherwise you are not what you profess."

It is a challenge not just to me and you but to all Catholics. It's a personal discussion you will have to have with our God. We all have choices to make. And God is not in the way. But He would like to help us make it to Him in every way possible.

Food for thought, my friend. Our ParishWorld theology editor keeps reminding me that our faith is not an intellectual exercise. It's a matter of faith, Alan, and where you stand with regards to our faith. I choose to believe.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief


"Stop making it so good!."

I hate it when I open ParishWorld.net and can't get it out of my system. This week's number captured me and I have to leave now for an appointment and, heaven forbid, I wish it were in hard copy so that I could carry it with me. But I'm also glad that it is electronic because I know that it will be here waiting for me when I get back. There is no crossword puzzle, not a bridge column by Charles Goren that someone else can rip out, but then again, it won't have any wrinkles in the middle of it so that it is forever mine, world without end. Amen.
I have only one piece of advice for you, Mr. Publisher, "Stop making it so good!."


Hooked on it

I got to hand it to you. These articles that goes to the subscribers of parish' websites every Friday are fabulous ways of evangelization. I myself am hooked on it because it's interesting and very informative I might add. This is without a doubt a must read for everyone.

Alfred Dianela


Oremus Catholic Rock

Thanks for the work you do! You have a great website.
We will subscribe to your site.
Thanks very much for helping us to spread the Word, too!
We will look forward to your article.

Thanks and God bless,

Syte Reitz, PR
Oremus Catholic Rock



HalluJah! Yes !!! I finally found after all this time where I can write an edifying letter to the editor. I am very thankful for all of the work,fun,and inspiration found in, with,and through `ParishWorld`. I being raised *cradle Catholic*, studying theology throughout a short but intensive time many years ago,than of course seeking adventure by reading some other heavy writings.......Have finally arrived at a SAFE SHORE!!! Yes all Praises be to our Heavenly Father,His Only Begotten Son Jesus,and The Presence of Life,Holy Ghost(The Breath of God) for this written reflection known as *ParishWorld.Net !!!
almost a Theophany!! Br.Phil Bara


Pray for my Nephew Mike Morales

Pray for my Nephew Mike Morales who has been fighting cancer for the last 4 years, he is 23 years old. He continued the fight as he was hopeful, and because he was on research medication for his rare type of cancer. He wanted to help others if he could. He is the most unselfish individual. He has been through so many surgeries and is now only 120 lbs in weight. He tried his last research medication after having surgery to clear his lungs which had filled with fluid. He decided to come off the medication and live the rest of his life as comfortable as possible. He went to Disneyland with his family, his mother and 2 brothers, thanks to the Moon Angels who help those with cancer and making their wishes come true. Thank you to the West Covina Police and Sheriff's departments for making his wish of flying in a helicopter come true. They are the most amazing individuals who care about people. It is nice to know people like that take care of us every day. Keep Mikey at peace with God, he is ready to meet his maker, if that is what God choses for him. Pray for his Mother and Brothers to keep strong. Love you Mikey.

From your Familia Espinoza, Aunts, Uncles, & cousins.


Dear Wally,

I believe I met you at LA Congress. I have your cards and info. At our staff meeting this week I reported on what you are offering. There is some interest.

Tonight, Friday I spent time viewing site and even registered. All I can say is WoW. I do hope you contact Fr. Marc Alexander of the Diocese of Honolulu so maybe the whole diocese will jump on this great evangelization service.

From what I saw I am very impressed. I am grateful that I allowed my curiosity to make room for your sharing with me what you offer. Truly the Holy Spirit was setting us up to cross paths. I am passing on more info to my pastor and will share even with our Coordinator of Religious Education and the school. Hopefully St. Anthony parish will take advantage of this fine ministry.God bless you and this ministry abundantly.

I just had to share this with you and do hope this is a beginning of collaborating in the ministry of Evangelization.


Fr. Jim Moran


I enjoyed your featured blog

Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed your featured blog Being Catholic means the entire package. It takes a lot to stand up for what's right rather than whats convenient. As Christians we attach ourselves to Christ so anything to the contrary is nothing but a stumbling block to those who are not. Great job!!



The Called and Gifted Workshop

I live in Louisiana and am a subscriber. I saw your article on The Called and Gifted Workshop coming soon and was wondering if you might offer this workshop online, some sort of way. I'd really love to attend the workshop but can't physically and was just wondering if it might be available online, maybe. Please let me know and thanks for your help.

Thank you!
Barbara Hebert