Church Dedication Anniversaries

A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

This is a festive season for Church Dedication Anniversaries, with the feast of the Dedication of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver on October 27, the solemnity of the Dedication of our own Abbey Church on November 7, and the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome on November 9.  Reflecting on the theme of beautiful cathedrals, Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB reminds us that our souls, too, are temples dedicated to the Lord.

In the liturgy for the anniversary of the Dedication of a Church, we get to sing that lovely antiphon: “This is the house of God, the gate of heaven.”  We say this of our churches, but our souls are also like churches – truly, little houses of prayer and worship.  Each one of us should be a place where all can come and ask for prayer.  As Benedictines, we love our Church, we treasure our Church, we protect our Church – and we should protect the church within ourselves as well.  Think of the beautiful cathedral in Denver, or any of the stunning cathedrals around the world, and know that your soul far outruns them.  Your soul is far more beautiful than any one of them, and to keep it that way is important.

In the history of the Denver Cathedral, right before the dedication was to take place, a lightning bolt struck Preview (opens in a new tab)one of the towers and knocked it down; but they just built it right back up and got it ready!  I think that’s what we do, too, sometimes, when we get knocked flat, and one of our towers goes a little wimpy.  We call on the Lord, and He builds it right back up for us, so we can stand tall.  We have to have faith in this – that whatever happens to us, we are not going to be totally shattered.  God can rebuild anything. 

So when we see a beautiful cathedral, it is an image of our own soul.  That’s something to think about.  What does your cathedral look like?  Who are the Saints in it?  How big is the sanctuary lamp*?  Does everybody who sees you see the presence of Christ?  We should strive to be persons who always take Christ everywhere. 

I love the liturgy of the Dedication of a Church, because it talks so much about the Church as the Bride of Christ, and we know that we, too, are brides of Christ.  So we pray in a special way on these feasts for each other and for the Church, that her beauty may shine forth to all the world.

*A sanctuary lamp burns near the tabernacle in Catholic churches to signify the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament

The sanctuary lamp burning near the tabernacle in our Abbey Church