Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Supporting the chair

Sometimes art can speak more eloquently than words. If one enters St. Peter's Basilica, you are struck immediately by the great window of the Holy Spirit. Just below it, the enormous sculpture of the Chair of Peter.
While we focus much on the role of Peter we can forget what the sculpture reminds us of, Peter alone did not bring the Church to the world-wide community it is today.

Particularly in the early years there were great struggles within the Church as we grappled to understand the full implications of who Jesus was, his life,death, and resurrection.

In the famous sculpture there are four of the Fathers of the Church surrounding the Chair, two from the West and two from the East: St. Ambrose, St. Anthanasius (left); and St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine (right).

In the 21st century even our religion can become egocentric. It's me and God (as I define it), or me and Jesus, or me and my Bible, or my parish. We can become disconnected from our history, and those important people through whom the Holy Spirit shaped the Church, as like any living being it matured.

Today the Church celebrates St. Athanatius. Each time we recite those words in the creed, "consubstantial with the father" we should call to mind this saint who defended the truth of Jesus being of the same substance with the father. While we take this for granted, at his time it was truly a matter of great controversy.

We remember and give thanks for St. Athanatius.