The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter has been celebrated on February 22nd in the Roman Catholic Church since the 4th century. This was the day the ancient Romans remembered their dead, and so today we remember the founders of our church, Peter and Paul.
The chair is a teacher’s chair, not a royal throne. It has a symbolic place behind the main altar of Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica. A window bearing the symbol of the Holy Spirit casts its light on the chair and those who sit upon it, Peter the Apostle and those who succeed him.
Today’s a good day to look at our present “chairman” Pope Francis ,who became pope on March 13, 2013 and ask what’s he teaching?
From his first days as pope he has taught simplicity by the way he lives and relates to people. He also has consistently shown a love for the poor. He’s calling the church to be what he says is ” a field hospital,” a church that welcomes the wounded and struggling peoples of this world. As countries worldwide close their borders to growing numbers of immigrants, he is asking that we build bridges, not walls.
In one of his first letters after becoming pope Francis called for joy in the gospel, joy in the challenge of reaching out to the world that God always loves. His great encyclical letter, Laudato Si, which he addressed to all the peoples of the world, addresses the crucial question of climate change. Together, as a worldwide community, we need to care for creation as our common home. Recently, the pope addressed the important relationships of marriage and family, which summed up the deliberations of a previous church synod.
A teacher needs students; a shepherd needs sheep to follow him.
Today is a good time to visit that great church built over the tomb of Peter and pray for the church’s teacher and shepherd today: Pope Francis.