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How to treat the “basilica” of your soul


Renata Sedmakova | Shutterstock

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/09/22

Your soul is meant to be a temple, or to use a more liturgical term, a basilica.

In biblical terms, our body and soul are often referred to as a “temple.” St. Paul uses this image in his letter to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

St. Caesarius of Arles a 6th-century bishop, reframed this analogy when reflecting on the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. He begins by using the word, “temple,” but then switched to use the word, “basilica.”

My fellow Christians, do we wish to celebrate joyfully the birth of this temple? Then let us not destroy the living temples of God in ourselves by works of evil. I shall speak clearly, so that all can understand. Whenever we come to church, we must prepare our hearts to be as beautiful as we expect this church to be. Do you wish to find this basilica immaculately clean? Then do not soil your soul with the filth of sins. 

St. Caesarius continues by using the word “basilica” to refer to our soul.

Do you wish this basilica to be full of light? God too wishes that your soul be not in darkness, but that the light of good works shine in us, so that he who dwells in the heavens will be glorified. Just as you enter this church building, so God wishes to enter into your soul, for he promised: I shall live in them, I shall walk through their hearts.

However we envision our soul, whether it is a temple or basilica, we should strive to keep it clean and holy, inviting God to dwell within it.

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