Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Augustine Day by Day - June 29 - Peter, Figure of the Church

"Now if the line of bishops who succeed one another is to be considered, with how much certainty and with real advantage do we begin with Saint Peter? He was the figure of the whole Church, and our Lord said to him: 'Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' Thus, the certain hope of the faithful, which rests not on human beings but on God, will never be destroyed."

-- Letter 53, 2-3

In response to Peter's confession of Christ's divine sonship (in Matthew 16), Christ confessed Peter as the rock of the Church, mysteriously and incredibly fusing God's own rock-solid strength with Peter's apostolic authority as well as with his rock-like confession of faith. Leaving aside for the moment the implications of the fact that Christ showed Peter a remarkable singularity of prominence among the Apostles, this quote emphasizes the more general principle that the perpetual solidity of the Church rests on God by means of an historical - that is, incarnate - episcopal succession.

Prayer. Lord, teach me what I should teach, teach me what I should hold fast.

-- Letter 166, 10

June 29

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