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Lent Retreat - The Chair of St Peter

Monday, February 22, 2010
Readings: 1 Peter 5:1-4; Matthew 16:13-19

Today we celebrate the feast of the Chair of St Peter and, almost a week into Lent, this feast gives us all an important opportunity for reflection.

The Chair of Peter, originally two feasts, one associated with Rome and the other with Antioch, reminds us of the unity of the Church as a whole and of the importance of the Petrine ministry to that unity in providing the earthly stewardship through which Christ’s authority and guidance is made manifest. The centrality of this ministry is clearly shown in our Gospel today where Matthew writes, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 6:18-19). This authoritative role, given by Christ to Peter and his successors and made visible the world over in the teaching authority of the bishops and those who act in their name, makes the Church truly what it is – one, true, holy and apostolic.

For us then, this Lent can give us pause to reflect on some wider issues. All too often Lent can become for us a time of introspection. Am I observing my Lenten fast, is my will going to hold through Lent! Though fair questions in themselves, today’s feast should remind us that the Church is something bigger and help us to turn outwards in prayer. Sometimes the hierarchy of the Church can seem to be at a great remove from us, but this is not really the case, and the leaders of the Church need our prayers, particularly in this penitential season. We should also be mindful, in meditating on the unity of the Church, of the importance of praying for our neighbours and of helping each other really to find the great spiritual riches which can be gleaned from this season. Above all, we should lift our minds and hearts upwards to God and not become overly preoccupied with the details of our Lenten observances but instead become wholly consumed by love of God in whose name we make all these efforts and to whom we offer our hearts in service.

Graham Hunt OP


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