Thursday, February 22, 2007

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Chair of St. Peter which honors the authority that Christ gave to Peter, the first Pope, and his successors. It focuses on the office of the Holy Father which is to continue to teach as Christ himself taught, especially with regards to faith and morals. The following is an article from Catholic News Services:

"Pope asks for prayers for his ministry on feast of Chair of St. Peter"

"With hundreds of candles lighting a sculpture of the Chair of St. Peter behind him, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Catholics to grow in their faith and asked for prayers for his ministry as the successor of St. Peter. Celebrating the Feb. 22 feast of the Chair of Peter, Apostle, Pope Benedict held part of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Basilica, where Gian Lorenzo Bernini's statue is located, and part in the Vatican audience hall, where he announced he would create 15 new cardinals.

In greeting Italian students in the basilica and in his talks in 10 languages in the audience hall, the pope offered a reflection on the ministry of St. Peter as Jesus' choice as leader of the Apostles. He encouraged the estimated 8,000 people in the audience hall to spend some time in St. Peter's Basilica, looking at the Bernini statue specially lighted for the feast day 'and to pray in a particular way for the ministry which God has entrusted to me.'

'Raising your gaze to the alabaster window just above the chair, invoke the Holy Spirit so that with his light and his strength he would always sustain my daily service to the entire church,' the pope said. Pope Benedict explained that the feast day celebrates the ministry of St. Peter as bishop of Rome, a ministry symbolized by his chair, the symbol of his responsibility for teaching the faith and of his authority.

'Providence led Peter to Rome, where he ended his service to the Gospel with martyrdom,' the pope said. 'For this reason, the see of Rome, which received great honor, also received the responsibility Christ entrusted to Peter to serve all of the particular churches for the edification and unity of the entire people of God,' he said.

As successor of St. Peter, he said, the pope is called not only to serve the church in Rome, but to guide the universal church. 'Celebrating the chair of Peter means, then, attributing to it a strong spiritual significance and recognizing it as a privileged sign of the love of God, the good and eternal pastor, who wants to gather the entire church and guide it on the path of salvation,' the pope said."

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