The image to the right is of the Chair of St. Peter in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Glorious!
Peter of course is the first pope of the Church, who was given the “keys” to the kingdom of heaven.
Peter is not just sitting in his chair in the clouds letting people into heaven. This is an image made popular by those who sadly deny the papacy.
Fortunately for us, we’re Catholic and understand that there’s this thing called apostolic succession; Peter’s office, his chair, is now filled by His Holiness Benedict XVI, today’s Vicar of Christ.
The Church on earth, of course armed with the power of the Holy Spirit and the sacramental presence of the Son and the guidance and justice of the Father, still has the keys.
The keys were given by Christ, to Peter, for the Church. These keys, in the hands of all bishops and clergy, unlock the grace we need to reach heaven one day.
But we must humbly knock. We must approach the unworthy men who hold these keys and have them open the doors. We cannot enter alone.
Translation: we must go to confession often and well.
And we Catholics must look to THE CHAIR OF SAINT PETER for guidance, knowing and trusting that Almighty God has ordered that humans look to the Church for grace, for guidance, for faith.
We faithful Catholics do not look to ourselves! Protestants like to do this particularly in the context of the Bible (e.g. “Why should I look to what the Church says when I can interpret this thing myself?”). We, on the other hand, look to that body which is bigger than us and here by the work of God to guide us.
Yes, we look to the Chair of St. Peter. We look to the Rock that is the Church. (Peter’s name in the Hebrew was rendered in Greek as Simon, but Jesus renamed him Peter, the Aramaic word for ROCK.)
Today I was reading Psalm 105, and verse 41 struck me: “He opened the rock, and water gushed forth; it flowed through the desert like a river.”
A rock by itself is useless.
But with God (working in and through the rock that is his Church):
- the rock is transformed and given power;
- the rock is a constant source of life–here and eternal;
- the rock is a constant source of grace;
- the rock delivers the one thing we require;
- the rock is powerful, and death can’t beat it;
- the rock becomes a source of faith, hope, and love;
- the rock becomes that which saves us.
The rock of the Chair of St. Peter is serious business and holds lots of power.
Let us be glad and rejoice! And let us pray for those outside of the Church, because the Chair of St. Peter DOES mean something–something huge.