March 2019 Print

Build Me a Temple

by a Benedictine monk

In his Rule, St. Benedict speaks of the Oratory of the Monastery as the sacred place of prayer where the monk is called seven times a day and once at night to offer to God the sacrifice of praise. He calls it a place where the soul can go and contact God in secret: “Let the Oratory be what its name implies, and let nothing else be done or kept there ...if anyone wish to pray secretly, let him just go in and pray: not in a loud voice, but with tears and fervor of heart” (Ch. 52). His great respect for the sacred asks that his monks reserve the Oratory exclusively for God and all that pertains to God.

In the various apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout history, she almost always asks for the building of a temple on the site of the apparition. The temple would start as a very modest construction that often would grow to become a major basilica. This is perhaps an image of our souls becoming a temple of God. The dignity of the human soul is to become the dwelling place of God Himself. In this spiritual temple, where the sacrifice of praise is offered on the altar of our hearts, the Catholic Church is represented in all of its vitality. Our souls really do reflect the qualities of the Church, the dwelling place of God with men.

The Church is essentially the kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel of St. Luke reminds us that the kingdom of God is within us. A soul in the state of grace is truly the kingdom where God reigns. “The Lord will give him the throne of David his father, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever” (Lk. 1:32). Our souls were created to reflect this happy kingdom, which is one of truth and goodness, where God must reign over our intelligence and our will.

The soul must be a kingdom of truth. Our thoughts must be in perfect conformity with God’s thoughts. He says in scripture that He is the truth. Any thought contrary to truth, or one that is deceitful or lying is a thought opposed to God and as such must be banned from the kingdom of our soul. The corruption of the world is overwhelming and unfortunately, we are often attracted to the deceitfulness of the lying world. Our Lord tells us to have confidence because He has overcome the world, but how did He conquer the world? His conquest was one of truth over the iniquity of lies. “... For this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice.” We too can overcome the deceits of this world by listening to the truth. Good thoughts come from God and, as such, will never die. One good thought of a child of God is of greater value than the entire material universe because it is of the spiritual realm. It will always triumph over evil because a certain presence of God is found in truth, which will always overcome the lies of the world, the flesh and the devil.

Our soul must also become the kingdom of goodness, the only object of our desires. In the Kingdom of God there can be no evil, no impurity, no hatred, no jealousy, absolutely nothing that can injure the love of God and neighbor. In this kingdom, our will must be attached to the will of God and everything that pleases Him. In the purity of our heart, our love of God and neighbor is what pleases God the most. Jesus tells us that this great law of charity is upon what the prophets and the law depend.

In this kingdom of our soul, Our Lord is the true King by the very fact that He created our soul and through His Passion and death He “re-possesses” it by a true conquest. There is only one condition that this King obliges His subjects to embrace before He will reign in the interior of their hearts. He asks us to freely choose Him, to open the doors of our minds and our hearts to welcome Him into His kingdom. He asks us to think of pure and good thoughts, to live in the perfect bond of charity by loving God and neighbor. If we refuse to seek after truth and goodness, we will choose iniquity and live a life of hatred. “...He that loveth iniquity hateth his own soul” (Ps. 10).

If we are faithful to maintain our thoughts and love submitted to God, we will accomplish what the Blessed Virgin Mary asks in all of her apparitions: “Build me a temple.” The same thought is echoed by St. Benedict: “Let the Oratory be what its name implies, and let nothing else be done or kept there ...if anyone wish to pray secretly, let him just go in and pray: not in a loud voice, but with tears and fervor of heart” (Ch. 52). May this oratory be the image of our souls where God is kept and His holy will accomplished, and where we can secretly enter and pray to our true King, Jesus Christ.