The Opening Prayer spoke of how God protects us from the tempests, the storms of the world, by founding the Church on the rock of Peter’s confession of faith. The successors of Peter, the Popes, throughout the century have helped the Church maintain faithfulness to the authentic Gospel, through heresies, schisms, the rise of false religions, atheistic ideologies. The faithfulness of the Pope to the Word of God will enable the Church to outlast every earthly enemy—individual, nation, or rival religion. In fact, he leads to the Church in driving back the darkness, driving back the errors, beating back and knocking down the gates and ramparts of hell.
This feast falling during the season of Lent is significant. Much of our attention throughout Lent is interior: am I fasting enough, am I praying enough, am I giving enough. Yet a universal feast, such as this, causes us to look for help outside ourselves. We have had some of the holiest Popes in Church history just this last century.
We do well to reflect on the words and example of St. Pius X, Venerable Pius XII, St. John XXIII, Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II. Personally, this Lent I am reading through a series of meditation from the writings of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who always offers such a clear and penetrating insight for me.
The current Holy Father, Pope Francis, offered a beautiful reflection for the beginning of Lent. He reflected upon the great Poet Dante’s depiction of the lowest ring of hell, with Satan and Judas Iscariot encased in the coldest ice, in frozen and loveless isolation. Pope Francis invites the Church to consider how, this Lent, we might rekindle the fire of charity that has perhaps grown cold in us, how we may become more aware of the signs that love for God, love for the Church, love for the poor, love for family, has perhaps begun to cool.
The teaching of Peter, the structure and doctrine of the Church, the sacraments, exist that we may know unity and peace with God and with one another.
May our Lenten observances and our celebration of this great feast help us to experience the unity and peace, the freedom from sin, the fire of charity that our good and gracious God desires for each one of us, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
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For the Successor of St. Peter, our Holy Father, that he be strong in his mission and strengthen the whole Church in faith.
For all bishops, that they grow in union with Peter, share the zeal of Paul, and lead us by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
For those preparing for baptism and the Easter sacraments, that they may continue to conform themselves to Christ through Faith taught by St. Peter and his successors.
For the conversion of all people to Christ, for those who reject the Faith, for those who have fallen away from the Church, for those who mock and persecute Christians, for hardened and unrepentant sinners, we pray to the Lord.
For the sick and the dying, the poor and the oppressed, and all victims of war, violence, and the selfishness of their fellow man, that they may experience the peace and presence of Christ, we pray to the Lord.
For all who have died, and for all the poor souls in purgatory, and for X. for whom this Mass is offered.
Father, We rejoice in the call to belong to the Church, to believe in the Gospel, and to be united with the successors of your Apostles. Answer our prayers and increase our fidelity to the Gospel. Through Christ our Lord.