I sat on a cold, hard chair, listening to the sounds of hushed voices, the tap-tap of tourists shoes walking among pillars, and looked down and across the swirling pattern on the marble floor of this old Roman church.
With the ring of a bell, we stood, and Mass began. Chant, candles, incense rising, and the mystery of a language I had not yet mastered surrounded me. It would all later feel like a dream, sitting there in Mass, in the cathedral that belongs to all of us.
The Lateran Basilica, celebrated today as a feast day, is the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, our Pope. Being in that temple, you can feel the heaviness of the walls and sense the strength of its pillars. It feels so permanent, and yet, like everything else on earth, it is temporary.
In a way that is so wonderfully Catholic, our physical church buildings point to a spiritual reality. Our God is bigger than us, more permanent than heavy stone walls. He engulfs us with His majesty and promise and might, and at the same time meets us in an intimate way in Holy Eucharist.
If you are able to step into a church building today, or recall your favorite one, take some time to notice how it makes you feel. All of these bells, candles, and colored glass are symbols of a living church. How do the things you see, hear, feel or smell point to spiritual truths? How do those feelings shed light on your relationship with God?
Learn more about this Basilica today with this brief video.
Jacqueline Skemp is a daughter, sister, wife, and mother who endures living in Minnesota after leaving California for her one true love. She is a contributing author to our children's devotional prayer book, Rise Up. You can find out more about her here.