Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
February 22, 2021
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this Feast of St. Peter we pray with Psalm 23 – the Good Shepherd.
The history and devotion intrinsic to this feast can inspire us to pray especially today for our dear Pope Francis who carries Peter’s grace and burden in our time. He carries, in Primacy, the charge reflected in our first reading:
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Pope Francis faces resistances just as Peter did. There are always forces within a community who pull its energy in contradictory directions. When rooted in love and reverent dialogue, that counteraction can generate growth. But when born of selfishness and obstinance, such opposition poisons the whole Body.
Francis needs our prayer. The Church needs our prayer. According to Teresa of Avila, Saint and Doctor of the Church, that prayer should be scriptural:
Today, Psalm 23 inspires our prayer for our Pope:
Even in the dark valley
may you fear no evil; for you are at God’s side
Whose rod and staff
give you courage.
May God spread graces before you
in the sight of your troubles;
and anoint your head with oil;
your cup overflowing.
May goodness and kindness follow you
all the days of your life;
May you dwell in the LORD’s sanctuary
for all your days.
Poetry: When I was a boy … (Da ich ein Knabe war …) – Friedrich Hölderlin
Pope Francis’s favorite poet is said to be the German writer Friedrich Hölderlin. Perhaps Francis, composer of the lyrical Laudato Sí and Fratelli Tutti, loves this rhapsodic poem.
When I was a boy Often a god would save me From the shouts and blows of men; I played safely and well With the flowers of the fields And the winds of heaven Played with me. As you make happy The hearts of plants When they extend to you Their delicate tendrils, So you make my heart happy, Father Sun, and like Endymion I was your favorite, Holy Moon! All true and neighborly gods! If only you knew How much I loved you then! True, at that time, I didn’t Know your names, and you Never bothered to name me, like men Who only pretend to know one another. Yet I know you better Than I’ve ever known anyone, I understood the silence of the upper air, But I’ve never understood the words of men. I was raised by the sounds Of the rustling grove And learned to love Among the flowers. I grew up in the arms of the gods.
Music: Psalm 23 with Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze