Nov 18 – Memorial for the Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul
The Basilica of St. Peter is located within the Vatican City. It occupies a unique position as one of the holiest sites and as the greatest of all churches of Christendom. It is the burial site of St. Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, and, according to tradition, was the first Bishop of Antioch and later the first Bishop of Rome, and therefore the first in the line of the papal succession.
Catholic tradition holds that St. Peter’s tomb is below the altar of the basilica, which is why many popes, starting with the first ones, have been buried there. There has been a church on this site since the fourth century. Construction on the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on Apr 18, 1506, and was completed in 1626.
While St. Peter’s is the most famous of Rome’s many churches, it is not the first in rank, an honour held by the Pope’s cathedral church, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Contrary to popular misconception, St. Peter’s is not a cathedral, as it is not the seat of a bishop. It is properly termed a basilica.
The Basilica of St. Paul Outside The Walls is one of four churches considered to be the great ancient basilicas of Rome. This basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I, over what was believed to be the burial place of St. Paul where it was said that after the Apostle’s execution, his followers erected a memorial over his grave.
In 386, Emperor Theodosius I began the erection of a much larger and more beautiful basilica with a nave and four aisles with a transept. The work, including the mosaics, was not completed till the pontificate of Leo I. Under Pope Gregory the Great (590-604), the basilica was again extensively modified. As it lay outside the Aurelian walls, this basilica was damaged during the Saracen invasions in the ninth century. Consequently, Pope John VIII fortified it, the monastery, and the dwellings of the peasantry forming the town of Joannispolis, which existed until 1348 when an earthquake totally destroyed it.
On 15 Jul 1823, the negligence of a workman repairing the roof resulted in a fire which almost totally destroyed the basilica. Alone of all the churches in Rome, it had preserved its primitive character for 1435 years. The whole world contributed to its reconstruction. The Viceroy of Egypt sent pillars of alabaster, and the Emperor of Russia sent the precious malachite and lapis lazuli of the tabernacle. The work on the principal façade, looking toward the Tiber, was completed by the Italian government, which declared the church a national monument.
The basilica was reopened in 1840 but was reconsecrated only 15 years later at the presence of Pope Pius IX, with 50 cardinals. On 31 May 2005, Pope Benedict XVI ordered the basilica to come under the control of an archpriest. On the same day, he named Archbishop Andrew Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo as its first archpriest.
1 Mac 2:15-29
…in the slightest degree.
Today we read of a similar story in 2 Maccabees. Like yesterday, we have a man, a father, tempted with fame, fortune and (power) friendship. A father who loudly honours God in and above all things, including worldly kings. A father ready and willing to fight for God – even to his death – despite all his peers choosing to ‘obey’ the king, despite the king’s commands against their God.
This Mattathias reminds us of St. Thomas More, does he not? Another man of God who chose death at the hands of man instead of defiance to the commands of God. Mattathias says, “…we will not obey the words of the king by departing from our religion in the slightest degree.”
In the slightest degree.
One degree. One percent. Mattathias, like St. Thomas More, wouldn’t budge even one degree to save his life.
How often have I followed, served, God almost 100% — falling shy by one degree and serving God 99% (and being proud of myself for that….).
As a professed Catholic, our path IS the Catholic Church – and it is well laid out for us, what is expected, necessary and holy in our thoughts, words and deeds. So many Catholics are living 99% or 98% or 62%….. Proclaiming Catholic, yet not fully in thought, word and deed (myself included). Choosing to obey the ‘king’ of the land – and not THE King of the Universe. The King of the Universe is all good. The king/ways of the land – throughout all time – may have good in them, but is not all good. And we all know that Lucifer works in the good and the bad, in the light and the dark; and we will find God only in GOOD, only in LIGHT, only in LOVE, as that is WHO GOD IS – LIGHT, GOOD, LOVE. God is not 99% light, good, love. God is 100%!
In life, that one little choice, that little one degree, that little one percent, that little half of a second or half of an inch can make all the difference in where we land…
In 2021, the difference in timing between the women’s 4x400m relay of gold and bronze was less than 5 seconds. The difference between gold and bronze in the men’s 400m hurdles was less than four-tenths of a second.
The difference between gold and bronze in the discus throw was 12 inches.
The difference between silver and bronze in the marathon was two-tenths of a second, and the difference between bronze and 4th place (no medal given) was two-tenths of a second, and less than 1 minute from the GOLD.
One degree, one percent is all that it takes to lose it all. All.
1% at a time….keeping up with the Joneses – I must have what they have, yet better, more.
1% at a time…wanting, lusting after another’s spouse – if only my spouse was more like…
1% at a time…it’s just a white lie, doesn’t hurt anyone, everyone lies…
1% at a time…everyone takes things, what’s the big deal, this company/person has lots of money…
1% at a time…he’s separated, it’s not like he’s still really married, he’s filed for divorce so what’s the big deal about dating him…
1% at a time…no one can tell me what I can do with my own body, certainly not the government; it’s just not the right time to have a baby, I have other plans for my life…
1% at a time…I’ll make time to call and visit my parents after my vacation; I need some rest and relaxation in the evenings and on the weekends…
1% at a time…I am exhausted, have been so busy with work and I have people counting on me at 11:30 at the gym/restaurant/office/field…I just can’t make it to mass this week…
1% at a time…I said it with a little ‘g’; I’m not really cursing God, it’s not a big deal, you’re old fashioned and too religious…1% at a time…I pray and do good things, I tithe, but work/________ is my priority right now…
1% at a time…God understands that I have IMPORTANT things to do and take care of…
Can we have it both ways? Can we honour God, follow God and be off the path, even by just one degree? Like yesterday, I will end with this: Will we hear “well done, my good and faithful servant” upon our death if we choose to be off the path by even one little degree?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Gina Ulicny)
Prayer: Father God, help us to understand that one degree makes all the difference. That if we are one step off the path, we will never receive gifts you have for us on the path. We know that You are all good, all love and all light, yet we continue to make choices that do not honour and glorify you and, in fact, don’t serve us. We pray for insight, we pray that we pray more so that we will know you more deeply and profoundly, and therefore follow you more closely. We want all that you desire for us, Father; guide us quickly back to You when we wander.
Thanksgiving: Lord God Almighty, we are so grateful for the many examples in our life to witness those who choose to honour you in thought, word and deed. We thank you for the daily encouragement and for all the blessing of light, goodness and love you have on our path.