What was going through my mind? My homily on the day quite summarised what occupied my mental faculties at that celebration. I told the pilgrims that this was IT as far as our journey into the heart of the Church was concerned; one cannot get physically any closer to Mother Church than to be seated right before the Chair of the Bishop of Rome in a Eucharistic celebration. But yet, what does this mean for us all? Because millions of other pilgrims have also stood where we were standing, and perhaps most of them did so with utter ignorance about the significance of the moment
When our hearts and minds are not adequately formed and fashioned in accordance with the faith of the Church, being given the privilege of such significant moments in our life journey may just be nothing more than "casting pearls to swines". The fuller appreciation of such experiences can be attained only when one understands things through the mind of the Church.
What is the significance of this Chair of the Bishop of Rome before which we stood? It represents the teaching office of the Pope, his extraordinary infallibility and the Sacred Magisterium that has guarded the integrity of the Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture all throughout the life of the Church. Through this Chair, the divine guarantee of truth and infallibility has been been operable for almost two hundred centuries.
There I was, preaching a homily about the faith of the Apostles and the necessity of being in communion with them not just in liturgical rite but also in heart, mind and spirit. In a world that exalts absolute freedom of thought and the right of subjective interpretation, this Chair continues to stand there in the Basilica of St John Lateran as a sign of unchanging truth about God, mankind and the world, which purposes to bring us to salvation. The Chair represents an office that is divinely instituted to direct the desire of man towards its rightful goal - the very One who, Himself, instituted the office.
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, standing at his cathedra