Next Tuesday, 22nd February, is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle – a feast found in the oldest Roman Calendar of 394 and celebrated there since the mid-fifth century. It would be a good day to go to Mass in order to pray for the Holy Father. The texts of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours serve as an excellent catechesis on the role of the apostle Peter in the Church, for this feast commemorates the teaching authority of the Vicar of Christ. The Catechism teaches that it is “this magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections, and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error” so that “the People of God abides in the truth that liberates” (CCC 890). Pope Benedict XVI said that “the Chair represents the pope’s mission as guide of the entire People of God. Celebrating the Chair of Peter means attributing a strong spiritual significance to it and recognising it as a privileged sign of the love of God.” The great English convert and priest, Mgr. Ronald Knox – who is buried in the churchyard in Mells, Somerset – once remarked: “Perhaps it would be a good thing if every Christian, certainly if every priest, could dream once in his life that he were pope, and wake from that nightmare in a sweat of agony.”
Here is a prayer to say for the Pope: O God, shepherd and ruler of all the faithful, look favorably on your servant Francis, whom you have set at the head of your Church as her shepherd. Grant, we pray, that by word and example he may be of service to those over whom he presides so that, together with the flock entrusted to his care, he may come to everlasting life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.