The Holy Spirit, Peter, priests, keys, absolution, me

Pope Sixtus V put up this obelisk to show that superstition is conquered by the cross, sin by grace, by love. It was laying on the ground to the Gospel side of pre-basilica times where Peter was crucified upside down out of deference to our Lord.

These are the bells which ring madly when a new Pope is elected.

Any Pope is always Saint Peter. It has something to do with the Holy Spirit, who provides the power of keys. Priests turn those keys in Confession. But the power is always with Peter. We thank the Holy Spirit who was sent among us for the forgiveness of sins. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit.

So far, I’ve prayed at the tombs of Bartholomew, Philip, James, and now, sorry, but most importantly, Peter. Those are his bones below the altar.

Besides the usual prayers for the plenary indulgence, my prayer to Saint Peter was this:

  • Help me to be one in solidarity with you and your successor.
  • Help me to be one in solidarity with you and your successor in being a sign of unity.
  • Help me to be one in solidarity with you and your successor in bringing many to the Lord.
  • And I continued in that manner…

Looking up:

And looking over:

On my way out of the Basilica just for nice:

But then I visited the tomb of Pius X just there, to the Gospel side. He sets me into ecclesia militans mode. But that’s for another post. Meanwhile, just there, off to the side, my guardian angel smacked me down so that I would take one last picture, one that would be significant for the prayer I had just made at the tomb of Peter, just a section of our Lord’s words to Peter:

“…and whatever you loose on earth…”

Significant, that, for a Missionary of Mercy.

No better place to start than myself. Outside, down below, near the colonnade, amidst the mayhem of the crowds, I spotted a couple of priests who looked terribly unkempt in terribly worn out clerical clothes. Nobody could fake that look. I asked them if they were Catholic priests.

The elder one said yes. The younger one, clearly a secretary, warned[!] the elder that I was a priest (stating the obvious, so political), and then told me sternly that the elder was not just a bishop, but an archbishop (I had seen the ring…). Ignoring this breathlessness, I quietly, humbly asked the elder if he might hear my confession. Yes, he said. That Archbishop was a saint. It only took a minute or two.

Any priest readers might be tempted to chime in to say that I was very rude to do this and that the younger priest was right to be upset. Instead, I think this was a good example about asking for confession, being available for confessions and in being available to one’s fellow priests.

If there is anything at all, ever, that will be a sign of unity, which will assist Peter in his mandate, it will be the blood of the Lamb falling upon us in forgiveness of our sins, then bringing that forgiveness to all.


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4 responses to “The Holy Spirit, Peter, priests, keys, absolution, me

  1. Nan

    But pope Francis shows us that it’s right for a priest to go to confession publicly and to be available for confessions of others. Especially in Rome, where there are so many pilgrims, whether priests or laity.
    Good for Fr secretary to make sure people realize he accompanies the Abp, despite the worn clothing, in case people look only at the state of their clothing, rather than their souls.

  2. sanfelipe007


  3. nancyv

    Help me understand a priest (archb) in disguise. I am a homebody and have never been outside North America.

    • Father George David Byers

      I’m sure they were just a shambles, as much as me, as they had both just that second arrived in Rome from Poland, perhaps by car or train, and we’re both eager to visit St Peter’s straight away.

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