Entrusted to the Archdiocese of Washington
Today’s station church is significant for the Church of Washington. This past November, Pope Benedict XVI entrusted St. Peter in Chains, situated in the heart of Rome, to Cardinal Wuerl as his titular church. I had the great honor of being the acolyte at today’s Mass. Chris Seith, a Washington seminarian in his first year at the North American College, was the lector.
Two of the church’s treasures brought me to reflect on the meaning and importance of freedom in Christ. The statue of Moses and chains of Peter remind me to allow God to free me, helping me overcome the slavery of sin and self-centeredness in my heart this Lent.
A marble statue of Moses, a masterpiece by Michelangelo, sits prominently on the right side of church. The marble Moses sits majestically – powerfully muscular, bearded, and ready to take on any obstacle standing in the way of God’s people. Just as Moses led his people from the clutches of slavery, so we should follow Jesus who will lead us out of our slavery to sin.
Proclaim the Gospel of Christ
Secondly, hanging in a glass case below the high altar, one can see and venerate the chains that give the church its name. Peter, the first pope, was thrown into prison and locked in these chains. What was his crime? He was spreading the Gospel and its message of freedom in Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 12:7), we read about Peter’s miraculous rescue by an angel who released him from these chains. The passage says, “And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shined in the room. And he, striking Peter on the side, raised him up, saying: Arise quickly. And the chains fell off from his hands.” Peter was released so that he could boldly proclaim the message of Christ and continue to spread the Gospel throughout the Empire.
Looking upon those chains and reflecting on the heroism of Peter and Moses, I prayed that God would release me from the chains that hold me back from proclaiming his Word and following him in true freedom. I pray that you, reader, have that experience of freedom from the chains of sin this Lent. I ask that you pray that I receive the grace of this freedom as well.
Blog By: Patrick Lewis
Photos by Fr. Justin Huber