I sat on a couch with a coffee cup between my hands and listened in amazement to the words coming from his mouth.
I hadn’t told him about any of my fears, my anxieties, my insecurities, and yet it was as if he knew them all. He was speaking exactly what I needed to hear. I asked a few more questions; he heard my confession; and then the monthly spiritual direction appointment with my priest was over. I left feeling like I had just spent an hour with Jesus.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, which is an actual chair that you can go see in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, but it is also the mission that Jesus entrusted to Saint Peter, our first pope, and all of his successors, to lead God’s people on earth. Our bishops, including the Pope who is the Bishop of Rome, and our priests, when performing liturgical and sacramental actions all stand in the place of Jesus as our shepherds, caring for our souls and guiding us to Heaven. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church §1548).
It is a confusing time in the Church when it comes to the clergy. Unfortunately, bad shepherds have not been faithful to their calling and have not heeded to instruction given by our great first pope in today’s First Reading. But that is not a reason to lose heart. In the Gospel we are reminded that Jesus founded His Church on a rock, “and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
The Priesthood is a gift for us, and the Holy Spirit ensures that we receive sacramental grace no matter how holy the priest administering the Sacraments happens to be. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church §1550.) Jesus is using priests around the world to lead us beside the restful waters of Baptism, to refresh our souls with His word, to help us when we’re in the dark valley of sin with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to anoint us when we enter the Church through Baptism and Confirmation, and when we depart this world at the time of our death. And every day Jesus is using priests to spread the banquet table of His most Precious Body before us. There is nothing more that I shall want.
One of the most famous sculptures by Michelangelo is in Saint Peter's Basilica.
Anna Coyne is a wife, mother, and convert to the Catholic Faith. She is a classically trained pianist who, after teaching for ten years now stays home with her three young children. but still manages to flex her creative muscles through writing, knitting, and gardening. She is proud to call Saint Paul home and loves everything about living in Minnesota, except for winter. You can find out more about her here.