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The beauty of God's house

"I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of your house and the place where your glory dwells (Ps 25:8). We love the beauty of Gods house and the place where his glory dwells if we ourselves are that house. What is the beauty of Gods house and the place where his glory dwells if not the temple of which the Apostle says, 'Gods temple is holy, which you are'(1 Cor 3:17)? In buildings made by hands, when they are elegantly and magnificently constructed, our bodily sight is struck; so when living stones, the hearts of believers, are held together by the bond of charity, this is the beauty of Gods house, the place where his glory dwells. Learn, then, what you should love so that you are able to love it. One who loves the beauty of Gods house loves the Church, not in walls and roofs built by a carpenter, not in gleaming marble and gold-paneled ceilings, but in faithful and holy people, people who love God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind and their neighbors as themselves." (Augustine, Sermon 15, 1; PL 38, 116)

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Thank you for this reminder.

What a splendid and inspiring reflection. It would be a great Lenten discipline to cultivate the ability to see the goodness of love among believers in the Church and to allow their charity toward one another to witness to us of God's glory. It makes me think of a conversation I had this fall with someone who attended a mission I gave at a parish in Texas. One of the reflection questions I posed to the group during the mission, after presenting the four ways that Christ is present in the liturgy, was "how are we present to one another?" A lot of the good things you'd expect were said, but afterwards I was chatting with someone who told me something quite wonderfully unexpected. He said, "You know, when you asked how are we present to one another, my answer was: through annoyance." Of course I laughed. He continued, "It's true! I'm thinking, why isn't he singing? and why is she dressed like that? Annoyance. But then, by the time communion comes -- I'm a Eucharistic minister -- I see these same people coming forward for the Eucharist, and I love them all. Everything else disappears. There's only love." That story, to me, is a story of the beauty of God's house being made visible through the Eucharist. And it's also a story of the Eucharist making us into God's house, where that glory may shine, bit by bit. Finally, by telling me that story, this man made me more aware and appreciative of the "faithful and holy people" who are daily transformed by Christ's love into a people of love.

That's what I like about God's House, too; it's the people, not the building. There are people who, outside, I might cross the street to avoid; but at Mass, I can put all that aside. I can't say I love them, but I certainly feel a sense of unity and connectedness with them. And my hope is, if I keep going to Mass often enough, I will be more charitable to those folks when I run into them when not at Mass.

"Wherever the Catholic sun may shine,There's music, laughter, and good red wine;At least I've always found it so;Benedicamus Domino." (Hillaire Belloc)Essential Catholic Christianity: Communion. Hospitality: Here Comes Everyone. Let us bless the Lord.

Irene: You would like this vision of God's house (Ed & Peg Gleason most certainly do): http://thegubbioproject.org/

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About the Author

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.