The Lord said to Peter: I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
-Antiphon 3, Psalmody of Morning Prayer, Feast of the Chair of St. Peter
Today we celebrate the Chair of St. Peter, and according to my breviary, this feast has been celebrated at Rome since the 4th century. The feast celebrates the unity of the Church founded upon Simon Peter, by Jesus Christ himself. We celebrate how this office, which is bigger than St. Peter himself, and any one of his successors, transmits wholly and uncorrupted, the Christian faith to the Catholic Church. It is a sign than no other sect can claim. Its power is truly awe-inspiring when one looks at the history and conflict that has surrounded the Catholic Church since day 1. We are truly blessed to have the gift of the Chair of St. Peter.
Of the many roles that the Pontiff takes on, one of the most important is protecting the deposit of faith and maintaining unity in faith. Over time, many things have attacked that unity and faith, and it is hard to look at the world and believe that unity has won. We see schisms between various groups and the Catholic Church, both with those who believe all that the faith is, but sever Communion with the Pope for one reason or another, and with heretics, those who have abandoned certain parts of the faith and created schism from the Church. When these issues arise, who else can we turn to? The Holy Spirit? Yes. But the question is, is the Holy Spirit leading some to truth, and others into error? No! So who is being lead by the Spirit? We know this to be the Chair of St. Peter, the only legitimate claim in all of Christendom, and remarkably, those men who have succeeded to this office, no matter how sinful they themselves were, have maintained a continuity within the faith unparalleled by any other sect.
And so we celebrate today, not only St. Peter, but the unity of Christ, of our Church, of our faith, which is protected by the successor of St. Peter through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.