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BEFORE THE CROSS | An internal and external purification and rededication

This week is a good time to discover the ways we need to rededicate ourselves to the work of the Lord

We celebrate the feast of St. Charles Borromeo on Nov. 4. As archbishop of Milan, he said to his priests: “Are you in charge of a parish? If so, do not neglect the parish of your own soul.”

External cares and internal cares — St. Charles was concerned with both.

At the end of the week, we celebrate the feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica (Nov. 9), the pope’s cathedral and a symbol of the unity of the Church. To mark the day we read a sermon of St. Caesarius of Arles, who told lay people: “Do you wish to find this basilica immaculately clean? Then do not soil your souls with the filth of sin. Do you wish to find this basilica to be full of light? God too wishes that your soul not be in darkness, but that the light of good works shine in us.”

External and internal purity — he was concerned with both.

In between these feasts, all week long, the Church’s Office of Readings covers the history of the desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem by a pagan king and the purification and rededication of the Temple by the Jewish hero Judas Maccabeus.

It reminds me of the importance of cleansing, purifying and rededicating the Church — both internally and externally.

The Church is certainly engaged in a massive cleansing and rededication on the level of policy and has been since the scandals of 2002. It’s needed, and I have great confidence in what’s happening.

Many priests and bishops have been engaged in a simultaneous, daily rededication of themselves to the work of God on a personal level. This, too, is needed, and I’m very grateful for it.

Seminaries around the country have been engaged in a purification and rededication in terms of how they form men for the priesthood. Our own Kenrick-Glennon Seminary has been an outstanding example and a leader among seminaries around the nation. I’m grateful for and proud of the work we’ve done.

But it’s not only a task for someone else to undertake. St. Paul says that each of us is God’s building and a temple of the Holy Spirit. So I think each of us can ask ourselves: In what ways do I need to be rededicated to the work of the Lord?

Maybe the rededication concerns an external issue, a habit or action in my life that’s visible to everyone and needs to change.

Maybe the rededication concerns an internal issue, an attitude of the heart that’s only known to God and me, but still needs to change.

Whatever our issues are, the rededication of the temple has always been a project for the entire people of God. All through salvation history God has called for it and supported those who undertook it.

Let’s take up the task with vigor. By God’s grace, may we bring about an internal and external rededication that will take a worthy place beside other rededications in Church history.

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