The following is from "The Pope" [pages 73-76]–
Source: “The Fountain of Catholic Knowledge: A Comprehensive Statement of All
the Truths of Holy Religion” copyright by Office of Catholic Publications,
As I stated yesterday, one of the things I am doing for Lent is re-reading from my collection of 100+ year old Catholic books and my plan to share these writings on my blog. Today being "The Chair of St. Peter the Apostle" I thought this was appropriate.
I really love this writing, and in particular the part about Peter answering Our Lord three times that he loves Him (this is one of my favorite Bible verses). So reading this and reflecting on it in light of our current situation with Pope Francis, a few things really stood out to me, I have underlined them in the text below.
I'd really like to hear what your thoughts are on this book passage about the pope and our current situation.
"The first Pope, the first Vicar of Jesus Christ, was the
Apostle St. Peter.
Who cannot recall
the memorable passages of the Gospel in which Jesus Christ first promised and
afterward conferred upon him the sovereignty of the universe? Our Lord was in
Judea, in the country bordering upon the town of Cesarea. To try the faith of His
disciples, He asked what men thought concerning Him. They answered, “Some
believe that Thou art John the Baptist, other Elias, and other Jeremias, or one
of the prophets risen from the dead.” Jesus said to them, “But whom do you say
that I am?” And immediately St. Peter, falling on his knees, exclaimed, “Thou
art Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then it was that the Saviour allowed
too fall from His lips the words which have travelled down the centuries with
such marvellous fertility, and which still shine resplendently at Rome, graven
in gigantic characters above the tomb of the Apostle-“Blessed art thou, Simon
Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father
who is in heaven. And I say to thee, That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I
will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I
will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt
bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt
loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”
You have doubtless
often heard this passage of the Gospel read, but have you ever fully fathomed
the depth and the strength of its meaning?
First of all, we see that it was God Himself who had
inspired St. Peter, and had made known to him the truth of the faith.
“Flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father
who is in heaven.” St. Peter was already the elect of God the Father, and for
this reason he became the elect of God the Son. “And I”- the Son of God made
man, the Christ, the Messiah, to whom thou hast just rendered witness-“I say to
thee.” Jesus Christ to St. Pete! the Master to His disciple! God to His
Pontiff! the Head of the Church, who has reigned in heaven since His ascension,
to him whom He had chosen to be, in His name, and by His authority, the visible
head of the Church upon earth. I say to thee, “That thou art Peter.” I change
they natural name of Simon into a new and symbolic name. “Upon this rock,” this
living rock, as upon an immovable foundation. “I will build My Church,” and the
very strength and firmness of the foundation shall give to it so perfect a
stability, and so mighty a power, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail
against it.” Thou shalt teach the truth to My Church, and for this reason it
shall be infallible in faith: thou shalt guide it in the path which leads to a
glorious eternity, and for this reason it shall be holy. I intrust My Church to
thee; I have but one true Church, as a husband has but one lawful wife. And by
what clear and evident sigh shall men recognize this one true Church, among the
innumerable religious societies which lay claim to her glorious title? By one
certain and distinctive mark; if she rest on and centre of unity-her father,
pastor, doctor, and pontiff. “Upon this rock I will build My Church.” My
kingdom shall be that in which thou shalt reign. My law shall be that which
thou shalt teach. Whoever shall be with thee, shall be, for that reason alone,
with Me, and whoever shall separate himself from thee, shall separate himself
from Me, and from life eternal.
The powers of hell shall not be able to prevail against the
Church, since they shall be powerless against thee. Persecutions shall come,
heresies, and revolutions. Fear not, I am with thee, and upon thee ever rests
My Church, which shall endure unto the end of the world. Those who desire to
break thee shall be broken against thee, since thou art the corner of
attraction to the whole moral world.
And the power that I will give thee shall be proportioned to
the glory conferred upon thee, and to the vast requirements of thy ministry:
“Whatsoever thou shalt bind or loose upon earth, shall be found or loosed in
heaven;” and thus thy voice shall be as the voice of heaven, and thy infallible
dictums shall precede the dictums of the eternal truth. That which though shalt
bless, I will bless; that which thou shalt curse, I will curse… Blessed is the
man who is obedient to the voice of Peter!
Such is the true meaning of those scriptural words which
have ever confounded, and shall eternally confound, the irrational rebellion of
Protestants against the Catholic Apostolic Roman Church, which is governed by
the Pope, the legitimate successor of St. Peter.
Before ascending into heaven the Son of God solemnly
confirmed His promise, of which some might have imagined that St. Peter by his
sin had forfeited the fulfillment. “Simon, lovest thou Me?” Jesus asked three
times of his Apostle. “Yea, Lord,” St. Peter three times answered; “yea, Thou
knowest that I love Thee!” thus effacing by a triple protestation of love and
devotion the triple denial of which he had been guilty. Then said Our Lord to
him, “Feed My lambs-feed My sheep!” The lambs of Jesus Christ are Christians
who are obedient to the voice of this good Shepherd; His sheep are the bishops
and priests by whose God-given power and spiritual fatherhood all Christians
must be born again-born to the life eternal, by means of baptism, the
sacraments, and the teaching of the one true faith.
And thus St. Peter was solemnly appointed pastor of the
universal Church by Jesus Christ before His ascension into heaven.
The Pope, Bishop of the city of Rome, of which St. Peter was
the first bishop, is the successor of this great and holy Apostle.
Leo XIII., the present Bishop of Rome, descends by an
uninterrupted line of pontiffs from the prince of the Apostles. St. Peter
commands, teaches, and governs the Christian world by means of Leo XIII., or
rather it is Jesus Christ; it is Jesus Christ Himself who dwells within him, in
order to be in Him and by Him, the
divine Head of his own Church. It is not the man whom Catholics revere in Leo
XIII.; it is the Vicar of Jesus Christ; it is Jesus Christ Himself who covers
him with His shadow, and endows him with a royal supremacy over His disciples.
The man in the Pope should be, and generally is, by the
providence of God, worthy of esteem, by reason of his virtues; but even were he
an utterly bad man, the divine majesty of his authority would remain uninjured;
just as a father, who has a claim upon the honor and obedience of his children
because he is their father, although they may know that, as a man, he has been
guilty of many blamable actions. There are two persons in the Pope: the Pope
and the man-as a man, he is more or less estimable, according to the virtues
that he possesses; as a Pope, he is always worthy of all our reverence, and has
a right to our entire and unquestioning obedience. It is not the man, it is the
Pope who is always guided by the Holy Ghost.
There have been two hundred and fifty-nine popes, from St.
Peter to the time of our Holy Father Leo XIII. now reigning. Of this number
more than eighty have either borne the palm of martyrdom, or have led lives of
such eminent holiness that they are numbered among the saints. Scarcely two or
three have soiled the chair of St. Peter by notorious vice. The greater part
have been men eminent either for their capacity, their piety, or their
benevolence. But it may safely be affirmed that not one among them has possessed
more charm of virtue than our present Pontiff, Leo XIII.
The peace of God shines from his face. The well known
characteristics of his calm and equable nature are goodness and benevolence-a
clear intellect, and a constant cheerfulness. His regular features, his eyes of
an undefinable expression, and the calm dignity of his manner, are in him the
visible signs and outward revelations of the beauty of holiness. He is at once
the sovereign Pontiff and the good Father. It is a great happiness to receive the
blessing of the Pope, and especially of such a Pope. It is a great happiness to
be able to make a pilgrimage to Rome, and to see the successor of St. Peter
celebrating the Holy Sacrifice upon the very tomb of the Apostle, and offering
to the adoration of the faithful the hidden God of whom he is the Pontiff and
Source: The Fountain of Catholic Knowledge, A Comprehensive
Statement of All the Truths of the Holy Religion Together With Notable
Presentations of the Glorious Truth Triumphant – Office of Catholic