Father’s Column – February 17, 2019

Posted on February 17, 2019 View all news

Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus! Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!

This upcoming Friday we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Originally two separate feasts, this Feast was the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch. St. Peter first established a diocese in Antioch, before moving on to Rome. The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome was originally celebrated on January 18, the beginning of the week of prayer for Christian Unity. The Feasts were combined into one in 1960.

Our connection to the Pope is an important one, regardless of who sits upon the throne of St. Peter. The Pope is the visible source of unity and charity within the Church, as commanded by Our Lord. It is the Pope that holds and guarantees communion between all those of the Catholic Faith.

Two years ago on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, we began reciting the prayers for the Holy Father after Mass. I believe that this remains important. We have an obligation to pray for the Holy Father and to hope for his success, for the good of the whole Church. Catholics and non-Catholics are often perplexed by him. But this is not an excuse for us not to pray for him. The prayers are the ancient ‘Pro Pontifice’ prayers, which can sometimes be heard chanted in Latin at Papal events. They come from Psalm 40 (41).

Please find this reflection from St. Augustine, as contained in the Roman Breviary for the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Already in St. Augustine’s time, in the 4th Century, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter was already established! Have a blessed week ahead!

“The solemn Feast of today received from our forefathers the name of that of St Peter’s Chair at Antioch, because there is a tradition that it was on this day that Peter, first of the Apostles, was enthroned in a Bishop’s Chair. Rightly, therefore, do the Churches observe the first day of that Chair, the right to which the Apostle received for the salvation of the Churches from the Lord of the Churches Himself, with the words: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.

It was the Lord Himself Who called Peter the foundation of the Church, and therefore it is right that the Church should reverence this foundation whereon her mighty structure riseth. Justly is it written in the Psalm which we have just heard: Let them exalt him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. Blessed be God, Who hath commanded that the Blessed Apostle Peter should be exalted in the congregation! Worthy to be honored by the Church is that foundation from which her goodly towers rise, pointing to heaven!

In the honor which is this day paid to the inauguration of the first Bishop’s throne, an honor is paid to the office of all Bishops. The Churches testify one to another, that, the greater the Church’s dignity, the greater the reverence due to her priests. While I confess how rightly godly custom hath exalted this Feast in the estimation of all the Churches, the more do I wonder at the growth of that unhealthy error which at this day causeth some unbelievers to lay food and wine upon the graves of the dead, as if souls once rid of the body had any longer any need of bodily refreshment. – St. Augustine