I have a confession to make. I really, really like the Pottery Barn catalog. You might call it an inordinate attachment. I study each catalog, carefully, until they are dog-eared. I imagine myself sinking into the deep leather chair in the library, with the apothecary style lamp casting a warm and inviting glow on the stack of hard-cover books. And wouldn’t our guests enjoy the old fashioned wine bar decorated with vintage glasses, evergreen, and candles? I sigh over the table decorations and the impossibly fluffy duvet-covered sleigh beds.
But there aren't any people.
I read somewhere that they tried putting actual people in the Pottery Barn catalog, but it was a flop. They briefly toyed with having shadowy human shapes lurking in the corners, and readers rebelled. Sales plummeted. We want perfectly decorated homes, no people!
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.
What a rich, earthy and substantial faith that celebrates a beautiful building, the mother church of Christendom!
Unlike the Pottery Barn catalog, all sorts of people are welcome in our churches. When we are baptized, we become part of God’s family. And we have a welcoming, beautifully decorated home to visit each day. The rag-tag group that comes to daily Mass—representing every ethnic group, every socio-economic status: my brothers and sisters.
Saint Paul tells us, “you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2: 19).
In God’s house, I sink into the soft glow of the tabernacle light, breathe deeply the smell of the beeswax candles and the bit of incense still hovering from Benediction, relish the muffled sound of kneelers going down, take in the sights of my triumphant brothers and sisters depicted in the vibrant colors of the stained glass windows, marvel at the taste of the wine, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, shared by us all on this special feast day.
My Magnificat quotes an inscription from a second century Christian named Abercius about Holy Mother Church: “Without ceasing, she gave fish to friends to eat. She has a delicious wine which she gives with bread.” She is the best hostess of all, and she invites us all to the feast in her home.