Saint of the Day ~ February 22


Today, the universal Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, a Feastday which celebrates the papacy and Saint Peter as the first bishop of Rome. Saint Peter’s original name was Simon, and was the brother of Saint Andrew the Apostle. Simon was married and was living and working in Capernaum as a fisherman when Jesus called him to be one of His Twelve Apostles.

Upon Peter’s acclamation of faith, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16b), our Lord placed into Peter’s hands the spiritual guidance of those faithful followers who would embrace the teachings of the Eternal Word made flesh, the fulfillment of such a responsibility not being realized until after the Resurrection on Pentecost.

According to very ancient liturgies, January 18th was the date set aside in commemoration when Saint Peter held his first service in Rome. February 22nd is identified as the date when Peter established the See of Antioch. (Please see more in today’s “Meditation for the Day”.)

Down through time, the celebration of this Feast has reminded us that it is the See of Peter which unites us. It reminds us that our unity is the unity of all Catholic bishops in the world as successors of the Apostles, with the bishop of Rome as their servant-leader, embracing the age-old saying, “Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia (Where Peter is, there is the Church)”.

This does not mean that all bishops, or even all popes, have been worthy of their role. Like the first bishop of Rome, they are human beings with the frailties that are inherent with their human nature. They have made mistakes, and, at times, they have acted out of ignorance or malice; and some of them have been notorious sinners. But the Church endures. For even though it has been through crisis after crisis and scandal after scandal at different times over the past 2000 years, it keeps being regenerated and revitalized through the power of the Holy Spirit!

In a homily he gave on this Feastday in 2006, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “To celebrate the ‘Chair of Peter,’ as we do today, means, therefore, to attribute to it a strong spiritual significance and to recognize in it a privileged sign of the Love of God, Good and Eternal Shepherd, who wants to gather the whole of His Church and guide her along the way of salvation…I invite you to…invoke the Holy Spirit, so that He will always sustain with His Light and Strength my daily service to the whole Church.”

Founded upon the shoulders of Saint Peter, the first “servant of the servants of God”, we celebrate this Feastday on February 22.

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(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter)

“All-powerful Father, You have built Your Church on the rock of Saint Peter’s confession of faith. May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love.

“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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