Today’s feast is one of the rare ones that doesn’t celebrate a person or an event in the life of Christ, His mother, or His Apostles.
A chair seems to be a very peculiar thing to celebrate doesn’t it? It would if it was the chair itself that we honor, but today isn’t about an actual chair, it’s about what that chair represents.
The seat of a bishop is called a cathedra, and this is where we get the word Cathedral from, it’s also where we get the term for an infallible papal proclamation or “ex cathedra” statement. It is called this because of the the authority attached to the chair of Saint Peter, also known as apostolic succession.
The Jews of Jesus’ day also had a concept of magisterial authority attached to a chair,
“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.” (Matt 23:2-3)
The authority of Moses was held by those that legitimately wielded power as the leaders of Israel. Thus an analogous authority is wielded by those who are successors of the prince of the apostles (Saint Peter) who was appointed by the new Moses (Jesus) to be the leader and magisterium of the new Israel (the Church).
So on this day celebrating his authority and the authority still held by his successors, say a prayer for the bishop of Rome, and pray for the intercession of the first Pope.
Saint Peter, pray for us.
(Check our this post, one of my earliest, on Papal authority https://nowthatimcatholic.com/2016/05/23/a-matter-of-authority/
And this podcast on saint peter https://nowthatimcatholic.com/2017/08/05/saint-peter-podcast/ )