From Ave Maria Meditations
Ubi Petrus ibi Ecclesia : Where Peter is, there is Christ’s Church
The primacy of Peter. The love of the early Chris?tians for Peter
The Church is built on the primacy of Peter, as on a rock, until the end of the world. Peter’s stature is immeasurably enhanced since Christ is the real foundation of the Church and Peter now takes his place. That is why his successors have since acquired the title of Vicar of Christ, that is, one who takes Christ’s place.
Peter is the Church’s strong defense against the storms she has suffered and will suffer throughout the centuries.
Built on him, as foundation and with his watchfulness as good shepherd, its victory is assured despite trials and temptations. Peter must eventually die but as regards his role of supreme shepherd Our Lord will assure it lasts eter?nally for the perpetual health and perennial good of the Church, which, being founded on rock, must remain stable to the end of time.
Love for the Pope goes back to the Church’s begin?nings. The Acts of the Apostles tell us movingly of the early Christians’ reaction to the imprisonment of St. Peter by Herod Agrippa, who planned to kill him when the Paschal feast was over. Meanwhile the Church prayed unceasingly to God for him. Look at how the faithful feel for their pastors, says St John Chrysostom. They don’t resort to protest or rebellion, but to prayer as an unfailing remedy. They did not say: as we are powerless men, it is useless to pray for him. They never reasoned in this way, but prayed with love.
We ought to pray a lot for the Pope and his intentions, since he bears the heavy weight of the Church on his shoulders. For example, we could use the following liturgi?cal prayer : may the Lord keep him and give him life, make him happy on earth and save him from deliverance into the hands of his enemies. Every day the clamor of the entire Church spread over the world rises to God in petition with him and for him. No Mass is celebrated without his name being mentioned and prayers said for him and his intentions. Our Lord will be very pleased to see that throughout the day we remember to offer prayers, hours of work or study and some mortification for his Vicar on earth.
Thank you, my God, for that love for the Pope you have placed in my heart ; it would be wonderful if we could say this more meaningfully each day. This love and veneration for the Roman Pontiff is one of the great gifts Our Lord has left us.
Faithful obedience to the Vicar of Christ;- making his teaching known. The sweet Christ on earth.
Along with showing him love and respect, we also pray for the one who takes Christ’s place on earth. Love for the Roman Pontiff must be in us a beautiful passion, for in him we see Christ. Therefore we will not fall into the all too easy temptation of setting one Pope against another, having confidence only in those whose actions respond to our per?sonal feelings. We are not among those who nostalgically look back to a former Pope or look forward to one in the future who will eventually dispense us from obeying the present one. Read the liturgical texts for the coronation of Pontiffs and you will notice that nowhere is there a reference to a conferral of powers proportionate to the dignity of the person elected by the conclave. Christ gives these powers directly to Peter’s successor. Therefore in speaking of the Roman Pontiff we exclude from our vocabulary any expressions derived from parliamentary assemblies or the polemics of newspapers; let it not be said that people not of our faith should be the ones who explain the prestige of the head of Christendom in the world to us.
And there would be no true love and respect for the Pope without faithful internal and external obedience to his teaching and doctrine. Good children listen with pro?found respect to even the simplest advice of the common Father and try sincerely to put it into practice. In the Pope we should see somebody who is in Christ’s place in the world – the sweet Christ on earth, as St Cath?erine of Siena used to say – loving and listening to him because his voice is the truth. We try to see that his words reach all the corners of the earth without distortion, so that, just as when Christ was on earth, many people disoriented by ignorance and error can discover the truth and many afflicted people recover their hope. It is part of the Christian’s apostolic task to make the Pope’s teaching known.
Jesus’ very words can be applied to the Pope: He who abides in me … he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing . Without this union all fruit is only apparent and empty and, in many cases, brings bitter?ness and damages the whole Mystical Body of Christ. On the other hand, if we are very united to the Pope, we will only have reasons for optimism in the task before us; this is reflected in these words of Mgr Escriva: Joyfully I bless you, son, for that faith in your mission as an apostle which inspired you to write: ‘There’s no doubt about it, the future is certain, perhaps in spite of us. But it is essential that we should be one with the Head so that all be one!