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“And they shall say to him: What are these wounds in the midst of thy hands? And he shall say: With these I was wounded in the house of them that loved me.” (Zacharias 13:6)
Evoking the Christmas dinner for the poor held in the Roman Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, the recent visit of Pope Francis to Bologna on Sunday, October 1, 2017 featured a lunch, hosted in the Basilica of San Petronio (Saint Petronius).
Vatican Radio reports that the luncheon “of solidarity with the poor, the refugees and the imprisoned” was held “in a simple and joyous climate,” and attended by a thousand people. Vatican Radio also added that the menu was prepared “with respect” for the attendees’ various religious traditions. Pope Francis greeted those gathered:
“What joy to see so many of you in this house! It is just like our mother’s house, the house of mercy, the Church that welcomes everybody, especially those who need a place. You are in the center of this house. The Church wants you in the center. She doesn’t prepare just any place, a different place. The Church belongs to everyone, especially to the poor. We are all invited, only by grace. It is a mystery of the free love of God, who wants us to be His, here, not because we deserve it, but through His love. In this house, normally, the mystery of the Eucharist is celebrated, the table on which is placed the bread and the wine that become the Body and Blood of Jesus, broken and shed for the multitude of men that He loves. How strange is God’s math: things can be multiplied, only if they are divided [shared]. Let us always set a table of love for those in need.”
Feeding the hungry is certainly one of the Corporal Works of Mercy, a meritorious act of charity. But should such a meal have been held in a consecrated church? In a word, no. Even St. Paul would question: “What, have you no houses to eat or to drink in?” (1 Corinthians 11:22). We know from the 19th chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, how Our Lord Himself treated those who were conducting business in the Temple. Would He not be filled with similar anger, at this instance?
We read in Genesis 28:17 words repeated in the rite of consecration of a church, and often inscribed above the doors of churches: “How terrible is this place, this is no other but the house of God and the gate of Heaven.” Even a child could explain that a church is holy, is set apart for Divine Worship and instruction, and must not be used for other reasons.
St. Jacinta affirmed shortly before her death: “Our Lady does not want people to talk in church.” As Pope John XXIII reminded those who applauded his arrival in church, during his March 1963 visit to Ostia: “Templum Dei, templum Dei,” (the temple of God is the temple of God). Talking and applause are bad enough, but how much more profane is a scheduled meal inside the consecrated house of God, attended by a thousand people, and with the approval and participation of the Vicar of Christ? This cannot be justified.
Recalling that the feast of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament coincides with the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, let us beg the intercession of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary in making reparation for this latest, horrible sacrilege. May we see soon the restoration of the Church, and the eradication of such scandals, forever; when the Sacred Heart will no longer be wounded in His own house, and this by those consecrated to His service.