Friday, February 22, 2008

Feast of The Chair of Peter

For many a most difficult discipline in the spiritual walk is the surrendering of our time-table which we never realize, but which inevitably leads us back to our fallen default position of the return to the eternal return and violence. Only the Abrahamic journey as described and witnessed through the Judeo-Christian experience is grounded in History, leading us out of this propensity to return to the sacrificial violent center toward the self-donating Trinitarian love of God - the Heart of Life.

In this History we have been blessed with a rock of stability, The Chair of Peter - a home, a guidepost for which the trajectory of History can be measured in and through faith, hope and love. It is only in the surrendering of our will of "self" and power, choosing instead, to Take Up our Cross, and living as a member of The Church that we can gain our life - a Life in Christ.

Today's Meditation of the Day from the Magnificat by way of Doctors of the Catholic Church speaks well of this blessing - The Grace of the Chair of Saint Peter.

Turn, then, once more to the Catholic Church and see how in the Life which she offers, as in none other, there is presented to us a means of fulfilling our end. For it is she alone who even demands in the spiritual sphere a complete and entire abnegation of self.

From every other Christian body comes the cry, Save your soul, assert your individuality, follow your conscience, form your opinions; while she, and she alone, demands from her children the sacrifice by hers, and the obedience of their will to her lightest command. For she, and she alone, is conscious of possessing that divinity, in complete submission to which lies the salvation of humanity. For she, as the coherent and organic mystical Body of Christ, calls upon those who look to her to become, not merely her children, but her very members; not to obey her as soldiers obey a leader or citizens a government, but as the hands and eyes and feet obey a brain.

Once, therefore, I understand this, I understand too how it is that by being lost in her I save myself; that I lose only that which hinders my activity, not that which fosters it. For when is my hand not itself? When separated from the body, by paralysis or amputation? Or when, in vital union with the brain, with every fiber alert and every nerve alive, it obeys in every gesture and receives in every sensations a life infinitely vaster and higher than any which it might, temporarily, enjoy in independence?

It is true that its capacity for pain is the greater when it is so united, and that I would cease to suffer if once its separation were accomplished; yet simultaneously, I would lose all that for which God made it and, saving itself, would be lost indeed…In losing my individualism I have won my individuality, for I have found my true place at last. I have lost the whole world? Yes, so far as that world is separate from or antagonistic to God’s will; but I have gained my own soul and attained immortality. For it is not I that live, but Christ that lives in me.

- Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson (+ 1914) was a British convert to Catholicism who is best known for his novels about the faith.

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