We Catholics, however, understand that what we are celebrating is not a piece of furniture but the promise that the piece of furniture represents. It is a promise that through the Holy Spirit we in the Church can always be united – in one communion, in one faith, and under one head.
If you have been to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome you likely have seen in the apse a sculpture by Lorenzo Bernini. It is a sculpture of an ancient chair encased in bronze (many believe the chair is one actually to have belonged to Peter, the first Pope). Above the chair is a beautiful stained glass depiction of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, as the source and the fount for unity in the Church.
So this year on the Feast of the Chair of Peter it would be good for us all to pray that God would strengthen our unity in the Holy Spirit. I have been hearing from many people who are lamenting how the polemics, hypersensitivities, and raw emotions of our nation’s political climate are causing divisions among family members and friends.
St. Basil prophesied in the fourth century that as the Church grew older she, like an old coat that has been torn many times, would grow harder to mend. He taught that the work of Christian unity must never be taken for granted but would require from us “great effort and diligence” (St. Basil, Letter 113).
I think we all know how it feels to have been “torn many times.” I think we all realize too that it will take all of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) to mend all that divides us.
I am reminded of the monks of St. Benedict. The most difficult job in the monastery belonged to the doorman. He had to be able to show Christian love, welcome, and hospitality to whomever came knocking on the door. May we be good door-keepers too – and receive with love whomever comes our way as a gift from God especially for us.
So yes, it’s good to celebrate chairs, and doors, and any other furniture or fixtures we need to keep our house in order. It’s all important if we are to be a happy family.