Today the Church celebrates the Dedication of St. John Lateran - the Holy Father's "parish" church in Rome. Though the feast seems to memorialize a specific place, the scriptures for the day are about GOD's dwelling. The prophet Ezekiel describes his vision of the "New Jerusalem" where GOD is enthroned. In the gospel JESUS cleanses the temple of thieves and shopkeepers looking to profit from religious practices. The responsorial psalm - the hinge that holds the whole feast together - returns our gaze to the kingdom in its fullness. "The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!"
As usual I am fixated on something in the Pauline letter. Saint Paul suggests that in addition to the temple - the one in Jerusalem and the one to be revealed in glory - there is another dwelling place for the Most High - GOD's people. "Brothers and sisters: you are GOD's building (1 Cor. 3)." GOD dwells in us - in Christ's church - in the people who, by baptism, have claimed the rights and responsibilities of embracing the Paschal Mystery. We are "living stones" - each one of us part of the foundation for the ones who come after us. This is a beautiful idea that feels true - especially in monastic life.
The monastery, Saint Benedict writes, is the domus Dei - literally, "GOD's house" (RB 31:19).We are guests during our lifetime and then past it along to the future generations. Because it belongs to GOD we take good care of EVERYTHING - we polish the chalice that is placed on the altar and are careful to leave a wet mop in the sun to dry. Everything is gift - everything belongs to GOD.
I've been thinking a lot about my sisters this weekend. If something happened to the monastery - a natural disaster or a destruction of human origin - the "monastery" would still exist. My sisters are "living stones." GOD dwells in each one and together we are a unique manifestation of the presence of the risen Christ in the world. Wherever they are, He is. So, if we ever had to start from scratch, it wouldn't matter. Yes, I love our land, our Chapel and the spaces I've called "home" (for quite some time now.) But these faithful women - living, in glory and the ones who have yet to knock on the door - constitute our "monastery." Together, we are "GOD's building" - together, we are made holy.
Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki