Hello Father Angelo,
I would like to ask you whether it is right or not to set up tables for the poor to eat in the church buildings, as it is done in many churches nowadays. Since there are so many places available, why should we disrespect the house of God? Sometimes the Blessed Sacrament is not even removed. However, why send the Landlord away in order to let people dine? I am very disheartened to see all of this… Elisabetta
The Priest’s answer
1. Seeing certain pictures of ancient basilicas with people eating on the occasion of the feast days is heartbreaking. “My house shall be a house of prayer” the Lord said when He entered the temple (Lk 19:46) and saw what He saw.
2. Surely, what was being done in the temple at that time was inappropriate and even sinful, such as selling to the poor by weight in gold animals to be offered as sacrifices, as reported by Josephus Flavius.
Instead, eating is not a sin.
And it is not a sin to party around a table either.
3. But doing all this in a church building is lawful, and even mandatory, when everything around has collapsed and only the church building remains, as sometimes happens in cases of natural disasters and earthquakes.
Charity must always be in the first place.
Even worship is subordinate to charity, because worship is in the order of the means, as St. Thomas teaches, while charity is the purpose of everything.
4. However, one may wonder whether it is right or not to set tables and all their accessories, including the toilet facilities which are even necessary in a sacred place and in ordinary times
5. How nice it would be to see all those people gathered for lunch or dinner in another place as well as to see them all gathered in those ancient basilicas to participate in the celebration of theHoly Mass or some other function.
In this way, not only the body would be refreshed but the spirit also, because all those people perhaps especially need that.
6. Today, however, everything seems legitimate, so that one does not realize that the sense of the sacred is being lost more and more. It is necessary to pray so that many spirits are enlightened.
I wish you all the best for the new year that is about to come, I remember you in my prayers and I bless you.