Monday, May 11, 2009

Rome's best sanctuary...

It's been said that the first time in the history of the world that any sanctuary on the earth was the scene of true worship was at the presentation of the child Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem. Such a holy moment!

Sanctuaries are a holy place. Our youth don't even often know what "holy" means anymore and proof of this is that our adults don't even know what it means either. The best way to describe the holy is to first describe the profane: "This is a rule binding on your descendants for all time, to make a distinction between the sacred and profane, between clean and unclean" (Leviticus 10:9-10).

When you enter a sanctuary first think of the holy. Think of the holiness and presence of Christ: "Then Christ came, the High Priest of good things already in being. Thus He entered the sanctuary once and for all and secured an eternal deliverance" (Hebrews 9:11-12).

Rome sanctuaries in their sheet marble and baroque glow easily memoralize His glory. Some have a favorite Rome sanctuary. My favorite is that of the Borghese/Pauline Chapel in the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major. Why? The entire chapel is a sanctuary. It's just one giant worship space.

Some say that Trent was changed by Vatican II and that the "cheif duty" of priests is no longer to offer sacrifice in the holy of holies. Well, they lie. Vatican II's Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests reads: "Priests fulfill their chief duty in the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. In it the work of our redemption continues to be carried out. For this reason priests are strongly urged to celebrate Mass every day." (chapter six, number thirteen).

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