Yet another very special conversation with good friend and Discerning Hearts contributor, Dr. Matthew Bunson about his new book “Pope Francis”. He once again demonstrates why he is one of our leading Church historians! No one articulates a moment with more grace and vision, than Dr. Bunson. More than just a “biography” of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina (which is offered beautifully in this volume), he places, in context, the extraordinary events and emotions leading to the election of the 265th successor of St. Peter…Pope Francis. The who, what, where, why and how are offered in vivid compelling detail. From the moment of Pope Benedict XVI’s earth shaking resignation and its implications, to the Holy Spirit led deliberations of the Cardinals, Dr. Bunson masterfully sets the stage for the first presentation to the world of Pope Francis on the loggia of St. Peter’s. We get the first in-depth look at the life and times of this “son of St. Ignatius”, the challenges, controversies, triumphs of his life thus far, and what we might expect given Bergoglio’s response to his election as the “bishop of Rome”. Matthew Bunson is a joy to read…don’t miss this definitive account of this truly remarkable story.
Get inside access to the entire history-making event, from the startling resignation of Pope Benedict through the gathering of Cardinals for the Conclave and the installation of this Pope of the people.
Examine Pope Francis the man – his background, his ideas, his mission, and his challenges and opportunities as our new pope – including 16 pages of full color photos from Pope Francis’ past and present.
“I want to ask you to walk together, and take care of one another …We need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others.” Pope Francis
On October 7, at the beginning of the Synod on the New Evangelization, Pope Benedict XVI will declare St. Hildegard von Bingen and St. John of Avila Doctors of the Church. On this special edition of Inside the Pages I talk with Dr. Matthew Bunson about the significance of this declaration. We talk about the lives and work of both saints and how their teachings can touch our lives today.
The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter is not so much a feast celebrating a “chair”, but more a feast celebrating what the chair symbolizes…the gift of the Papacy. I remember seeing it for the first time…not only the stunning piece used to preserve it by Bernini…but the whole altar piece setting at St. Peter’s…breathtaking. Almost every time I now see the presider’s chair at my local parish or the chair at our cathedral, I think of this chair, but also of the great unity it gives us with the entire Catholic Church under the leadership of the successor of St. Peter…our Holy Father. God bless the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Praise be to God for the gift of the Papacy!
Take a listen to Dr. Matthew Bunson talk to us about the importance of this feast in the podcast above.
Also here is the text from the Holy Father’s reflections on this feast from 2006 from Vatican.va
“On this rock I will build my Church’
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the Latin-rite liturgy celebrates the Feast of the Chair of St Peter. This is a very ancient tradition, proven to have existed in Rome since the fourth century. On it we give thanks to God for the mission he entrusted to the Apostle Peter and his Successors.
“Cathedra” literally means the established seat of the Bishop, placed in the mother church of a diocese which for this reason is known as a “cathedral”; it is the symbol of the Bishop’s authority and in particular, of his “magisterium”, that is, the evangelical teaching which, as a successor of the Apostles, he is called to safeguard and to transmit to the Christian Community.
When a Bishop takes possession of the particular Church that has been entrusted to him, wearing his mitre and holding the pastoral staff, he sits on the cathedra. From this seat, as teacher and pastor, he will guide the journey of the faithful in faith, hope and charity.
So what was the “Chair” of St Peter? Chosen by Christ as the “rock” on which to build the Church (cf. Mt 16: 18), he began his ministry in Jerusalem, after the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. The Church’s first “seat” was the Upper Room, and it is likely that a special place was reserved for Simon Peter in that room where Mary, Mother of Jesus, also prayed with the disciples. Therefore, we have the journey from Jerusalem, the newly born Church, to Antioch, the first centre of the Church formed from pagans and also still united with the Church that came from the Jews. Then Peter went to Rome, the centre of the Empire, the symbol of the “Orbis” – the “Urbs”, which expresses “Orbis”, the earth, where he ended his race at the service of the Gospel with martyrdom.
…This is testified by the most ancient Fathers of the Church, such as, for example, St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, but who came from Asia Minor, who in his treatise Adversus Haereses, describes the Church of Rome as the “greatest and most ancient, known by all… founded and established in Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul”; and he added: “The universal Church, that is, the faithful everywhere, must be in agreement with this Church because of her outstanding superiority” (III, 3, 2-3)….
Tertullian, a little later, said for his part: “How blessed is the Church of Rome, on which the Apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood!” (De Praescriptione Hereticorum, 36).
Consequently, the Chair of the Bishop of Rome represents not only his service to the Roman community but also his mission as guide of the entire People of God.
Celebrating the “Chair” of Peter, therefore, as we are doing today, means attributing a strong spiritual significance to it and recognizing it as a privileged sign of the love of God, the eternal Good Shepherd, who wanted to gather his whole Church and lead her on the path of salvation.
Among the numerous testimonies of the Fathers, I would like to quote St Jerome’s. It is an extract from one of his letters, addressed to the Bishop of Rome. It is especially interesting precisely because it makes an explicit reference to the “Chair” of Peter, presenting it as a safe harbour of truth and peace.
This is what Jerome wrote: “I decided to consult the Chair of Peter, where that faith is found exalted by the lips of an Apostle; I now come to ask for nourishment for my soul there, where once I received the garment of Christ. I follow no leader save Christ, so I enter into communion with your beatitude, that is, with the Chair of Peter, for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built” (cf. Le lettere I, 15, 1-2).
Dear brothers and sisters, in the apse of St Peter’s Basilica, as you know, is the monument to the Chair of the Apostle, a mature work of Bernini. It is in the form of a great bronze throne supported by the statues of four Doctors of the Church: two from the West, St Augustine and St Ambrose, and two from the East: St John Chrysostom and St Athanasius.
I invite you to pause before this evocative work which today can be admired, decorated with myriads of candles, and to say a special prayer for the ministry that God has entrusted to me. Raise your eyes to the alabaster glass window located directly above the Chair and call upon the Holy Spirit, so that with his enlightenment and power, he will always sustain my daily service to the entire Church. For this, as for your devoted attention, I thank you from my heart. –Vatican.va
Part 2 – A very special edition of “Inside the Pages” as we explore Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Exhortation, “Verbum Domini” (The Word of the Lord), with Dr. Matthew Bunson. A magnificent gift for the Church, Dr. Bunson breaks open in part 2 of our discussion the liturgy, homelitics and the significance of the document. We encourage you to check out the document yourself by clicking on the links below.
A very special edition of “Inside the Pages” as we explore Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Exhortation, “Verbum Domini” (The Word of the Lord), with Dr. Matthew Bunson. A magnificent gift for the Church, Dr. Bunson breaks open in part 1 of our discussion the significance of the document and how it was comprised. We encourage you to check out the document yourself by clicking on the links below.
God in dialogue 
The analogy of the word of God 
The cosmic dimension of the word 
The creation of man 
The realism of the word 
Christology of the word [11-13]
The eschatological dimension of the word of God 
The word of God and the Holy Spirit [15-16]
Tradition and Scripture [17-18]
Sacred Scripture, inspiration and truth 
God the Father, source and origin of the word [20-21]
Called to the covenant with God 
God hears us and responds to our questions 
In dialogue with God through his words 
The word of God and faith 
Sin as a refusal to hear the word of God 
Mary, “Mother of God’s Word” and “Mother of Faith” [27-28]
The Church as the primary setting for biblical hermeneutics [29-30]
“The soul of sacred theology” 
The development of biblical studies and the Church’s magisterium [32-33]
The Council’s biblical hermeneutic: a directive to be appropriated 
The danger of dualism and a secularized hermeneutic 
Faith and reason in the approach to Scripture 
Literal sense and spiritual sense 
The need to transcend the “letter” 
The Bible’s intrinsic unity 
The relationship between the Old and the New Testaments [40-41]
The “dark” passages of the Bible 
Christians, Jews and the sacred Scriptures 
The fundamentalist interpretation of sacred Scripture 
Dialogue between pastors, theologians and exegetes 
The Bible and ecumenism 
Consequences for the study of theology 
The saints and the interpretation of Scripture [48-49]
The word of God in the sacred liturgy 
Sacred Scripture and the sacraments 
The word of God and the Eucharist [54-55]
The sacramentality of the word 
Sacred Scripture and the Lectionary 
Proclamation of the word and the ministry of Reader 
The importance of the homily 
The fittingness of a Directory on Homiletics 
The word of God, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick 
The word of God and the Liturgy of the Hours 
The word of God and the Book of Blessings 
Suggestions and practical proposals for promoting fuller participation in the liturgy 
a) Celebrations of the word of God 
b) The word and silence 
c) The solemn proclamation of the word of God 
d) The word of God in Christian Churches 
e) The exclusive use of biblical texts in the liturgy 
f) Biblically-inspired liturgical song 
g) Particular concern for the visually and hearing impaired 
Encountering the word of God in sacred Scripture 
Letting the Bible inspire pastoral activity 
The biblical dimension of catechesis 
The biblical formation of Christians 
Sacred Scripture in large ecclesial gatherings 
The word of God and vocations 
a) Ordained ministers and the word of God [78-81]
b) The word of God and candidates for Holy Orders 
c) The word of God and the consecrated life 
d) The word of God and the lay faithful 
e) The word of God, marriage and the family 
The prayerful reading of sacred Scripture and “lectio divina” [86-87]
The word of God and Marian prayer 
The word of God and the Holy Land 
The Word from the Father and to the Father 
Proclaiming to the world the “Logos” of hope 
The word of God is the source of the Church’s mission 
The word and the Kingdom of God 
All the baptized are responsible for this proclamation 
The necessity of the “missio ad gentes” 
Proclamation and the new evangelization 
The word of God and Christian witness [97-98]
Serving Jesus in “the least of his brethren” (Mt 25:40) 
The word of God and commitment to justice in society [100-101]
The proclamation of God’s word, reconciliation and peace between peoples 
The word of God and practical charity 
The proclamation of the word of God and young people 
The proclamation of the word of God and migrants 
The proclamation of the word of God and the suffering 
The proclamation of the word of God and the poor 
The proclamation of the word of God and the protection of creation 
The value of culture for the life of humanity 
The Bible, a great code for cultures 
Knowledge of the Bible in schools and universities 
Sacred Scripture in the variety of artistic expressions 
The word of God and the means of social communication 
The Bible and inculturation 
Translating the Bible and making it more widely available 
God’s word transcends cultural limits