Monday, November 8, 2010
Sagrada Familia - from this altar...
Yesterday, November 7, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain. The work on this great church was begun over 100 years ago in 1882. The famous architect Antoni Gaudí (from Catalán, a region of Spain) took over the design of the Cathedral in 1883. Gaudí is famous for his "organic" architecture which imitates the forms found in nature. He was also a very devout Catholic.
Below are excerpts from the Pope's homily. As in his previous homily at Santiago de Compostela, the Pope stressed the need to re-evangelize Europe which has become increasingly secularized. Sagrada Familia is Spanish for Holy Family, and the Pope used this to form a theme about the importance of the family to society.
In his homily the Pope used the family as a symbol of human life from conception to the moment of natural death. He stressed the importance of respecting the dignity of human life and not interfering in God's plan.
Once again there was an exorcism-like quality to the Pope's prayers as he declared that the altar of this newly consecrated temple of Christ would produce a "flood of grace and charity" upon the whole world. I'm reminded of the words of Christ when he referred to himself as "the living water". As a society we need to remember to strengthen ourselves spiritually as well as physically. Without a strong spiritual foundation, society reverts to barbarism. It may be a high-tech form of barbarism as the world has experienced in two World Wars, but it is barbarism nonetheless.
I'm also reminded of the image of the Sacred Heart of Christ. The blood and the water that poured forth from Jesus on the Cross, are like the "flood of grace and charity" which the Pope spoke of.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Formed by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mother,
Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Substantially united to the Word of God,
Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Of Infinite Majesty,
Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Holy Temple of God,
Have mercy on us...
[See also my previous post "Along the way to Santiago de Compostela" for excerpts from the Pope's homily on Saturday, November 6.]
Excerpts from the dedication of the church of the Sagrada Familia and the altar in Barcelona: Homily of the Holy Father
This is the great task before us: to show everyone that God is a God of peace not of violence, of freedom not of coercion, of harmony not of discord. In this sense, I consider that the dedication of this church of the Sagrada Familia is an event of great importance, at a time in which man claims to be able to build his life without God, as if God had nothing to say to him. In this masterpiece, Gaudí shows us that God is the true measure of man; that the secret of authentic originality consists, as he himself said, in returning to one’s origin which is God.
The home formed by Jesus, Mary and Joseph has always been regarded as a school of love, prayer and work. The promoters of this church wanted to set before the world love, work and service lived in the presence of God, as the Holy Family lived them. Life has changed greatly and with it enormous progress has been made in the technical, social and cultural spheres. We cannot simply remain content with these advances. Alongside them, there also need to be moral advances, such as in care, protection and assistance to families, inasmuch as the generous and indissoluble love of a man and a woman is the effective context and foundation of human life in its gestation, birth, growth and natural end. Only where love and faithfulness are present can true freedom come to birth and endure. For this reason the Church advocates adequate economic and social means so that women may find in the home and at work their full development, that men and women who contract marriage and form a family receive decisive support from the state, that life of children may be defended as sacred and inviolable from the moment of their conception, that the reality of birth be given due respect and receive juridical, social and legislative support. For this reason the Church resists every form of denial of human life and gives its support to everything that would promote the natural order in the sphere of the institution of the family.
Dear brothers and sisters, as I dedicate this splendid church, I implore the Lord of our lives that, from this altar, which will now be anointed with holy oil and upon which the sacrifice of the love of Christ will be consumed, there may be a flood of grace and charity upon the city of Barcelona and its people, and upon the whole world. May these fruitful waters fill with faith and apostolic vitality this archdiocesan Church, its pastors and its faithful.
Finally, I wish to commend to the loving protection of the Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, April Rose, Mother of Mercy, all who enter here and all who in word or deed, in silence and prayer, have made this possible this marvel of architecture. May Our Lady present to her divine Son the joys and tribulations of all who come in the future to this sacred place so that here, as the Church prays when dedicating religious buildings, the poor may find mercy, the oppressed true freedom and all men may take on the dignity of the children of God. Amen.