At the beginning of the first week of Lent, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. The next day, during Holy Mass, we heard proclaimed the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6: verses 7-25 where Jesus teaches the apostles to pray. I highlight these two points as a way to simply yet significantly enter more deeply into the Lenten season — to assist in diving deeper into the spiritual journey that Lent can be for us.
The significance of the timing of the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter highlights for us a call to imitate the man Simon, to whom Jesus said, “I will call you Peter, for through you I will build my Church.” Christ points out that neither man nor anyone else but His Father inspires Peter to be able to speak so confidently about who Jesus truly is when he responds to the question that Jesus puts to all the apostles, “but who do you say that I am.” Peter remarks immediately, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” ... The truth is spoken and with great confidence and conviction.
The second point comes during the liturgy of the Word at Holy Mass on Tuesday morning. In Matthew’s Gospel, we hear the passage where the apostles ask Jesus to teach them to pray. He teaches them the prayer of the Our Father.
Consider how important this moment is. Saint Cyprian’s treatise on the Our Father is used as a reading for the Divine Office that day and he is quoted as he wrote.
“God willed that many things should be said by the prophets, His servants, and listened to by His people. How much greater are the things spoken by the Son.”
As I was reading this it struck me again just how powerful a prayer the Our Father can be for each one of us. Directly given to His Church by Himself, the very Word of God and the Son of God.
The two points above, which I prefer calling two gifts from God to us His children, highlight a simple way to pray throughout the Lenten season every year. An opportunity to allow each of us to dive deeper into the call we each have received as sons and daughters of God and adopted brothers and sisters of Christ.
To remind ourselves of the gift of God’s spirit of truth that filled Peter’s heart with the confidence to proclaim who Jesus is, not just for himself but for the whole Church, for God’s whole family. Then Christ, in response to His apostles, teaches as Word, Son, and Savior, His Church how best to pray.
Pray to the Father. Give Him glory, honor Him, petition Him for His Mercy and seek to understand His Will and live it.
If each of us can focus on these two points, meditate on them, and allow ourselves to prayerfully enter into what they each say, we can then strive throughout our Lenten sacrifices or acts of charity to pray to our Father in Heaven with a greater focus and certainty of why we choose to follow Christ, and desire to unite ourselves to them both through the very Spirit that influenced Peter’s confidence and through whom Jesus promised to always guide His Church.
May you all have a very blessed and holy experience this Lenten season. You remain in my prayers and please keep all our seminarians in yours. Blessings in Christ.
Father Greg Galvin
Director of Priestly Vocations