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"We can always follow Peter" | The Introduction to Simon, Called Peter: In The Company of a Man In Search of God | Dom
Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori, O.Cist.
"And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and
followed him" (Lk 5:11).
Is there anyone who is not moved by the witness of absolute dedication to
Christ? This is the allure of the saints, whom the Church never tires of
contemplating and of presenting as proof that it is possible to follow Jesus
Christ with our entire selves, that it is possible to make a radical commitment
to the Son of God, "the way, the truth, and the life" of man. The
saints address our desire for the fullness of life and tell us that this is not
an illusion, that it is not a mirage, but a call that resounds in the heart of
every man and requires fulfillment. The answer to this desire is not a dream
but rather the realism of following Christ. The realism of following Christ is demonstrated
by the saints, those who followed him before us, leading us on toward him in an
invisible chain stretching from the first steps of Mary and the apostles
throughout all of history, until the Second Coming.
"They left everything and followed him." The allure of this radical
response is lost unless we ourselves are moved by what we see in the saints and
ask ourselves, "What does leaving everything to follow the Lord mean for
us?" The saints teach us that the answer to this question is not the same
for everyone. The saints teach us that "leaving everything" does not
come before the act of following—instead, these two things happen at the
same time. Leaving everything is done not only at the beginning but during the
entire journey. Only death confirms, once and for all, our leaving everything
behind in order to be with the Lord forever. Following him is a constant,
renewed "leaving everything". It is never finished and continually
requires a fresh commitment, as if each of the Lord's footsteps created another
"everything" between himself and our freedom, a new "everything"
to be left behind once again. This is how the love of Christ continues to live
The disciple and apostle Simon Peter is one of the most emblematic figures of
the gripping drama of following Christ. He left everything right at the start, without
hesitation, but he still had to confront the claims made on his freedom by
Jesus, by circumstances, and by his own fragility and repeat his initial Yes to
the very end. Peter's denial, but also the tradition of "Quo
vadis?"—his last attempt to escape the total Yes of martyrdom by
leaving Rome, and his encounter with Jesus, who asked him for a definitive "leaving
everything" in dying for him—help us to understand that the freedom
of total self-donation to Christ is a lifelong commitment. Because this
commitment is asked of us by the Lord, it is always possible, in spite of
everything, as for the repentant thief crucified next to Jesus.
At every stage of my journey as a man, a Christian, a monk, and an abbot, I
have found Saint Peter as a companion walking ahead of me with my own humanity,
with my own human poverty, full of contradictions. Peter is the saint in the
Gospels who is most like us, the closest to our humanity, and yet also very
close to Christ. We can always follow Peter. He always leads us to Jesus, he
unites us to Jesus, because he never permitted his own fragility to separate
his heart from Christ, even when he denied him.
And it is for this reason, I believe, that Simon Peter is the character we
recognize best in the Gospels. We know all about Peter: his abilities and
limitations, his sins and his sanctity, his psychology, his whole character. All
of this lies before us absolutely clearly, so much so that at times he seems a
bit superficial and crude to us.
Peter's transparency is gospel, is part of the gospel, of the good news of
redemption in Christ. We can and must enter the school of Simon Peter, the
school of his journey with Jesus, in order to follow the Lord as he wants to be
followed, to cling to Christ as he enables us to love him.
Simon Called Peter: In the Company of a Man in Search of God
by Dom Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori, O.Cist
Foreword by Angelo Cardinal Scola, Patriarch of Venice
Simon Peter, the fisherman who was both attracted to Jesus and repelled by his own weakness, who in faith walked on the water and in fear began to sink; the ardent disciple who promised to die for His
Lord and then moments later betrayed Him, who needed to reaffirm his yes to God over and over again, even unto a martyr's death: Is this not a model for many of us who desire to love and trust the Lord
completely, yet who struggle daily to pick up our cross and follow Him?
Abbot Lepori's meditation on the relationship between our Lord and Saint Peter invites us to consider our own relationship with Christ. As he imaginatively retells the well-known stories
from the Gospels, he revivifies them and makes them present to us, deepening our understanding of the calling we have received from Jesus and strengthening our confidence that the Lord will,
indeed, bring to completion the work of love He has begun in us.
"You are carried into the events narrated here... and you see them with your own eyes and heart, more than if you had been there." -- from the Foreword by Cardinal Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice
"Dom Lepori's account of Peter reminds us of just how often this first of the Apostles appears in the Gospels. When we see Peter spelled out in his encounters with Christ, we realize that this 'Rock' is
being formed, but also that he was someone who could be formed. It is not without interest that the Church is founded on Peter, a solid man, yet also a sinner. With Lepori's guidance, we realize
that Peter's life is a portrait of how God deals with men. We cannot but be moved by this Peter, a man like unto us, sin included, but a brave man who acknowledges, who learns, who, in the end,
is 'the Rock' that he was called to be from the first time Christ saw him." -- James V. Schall, SJ, Author, The Order of Things
Dom Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori, O. Cist., is the abbot of the Cistercian abbey of Hauterive outside of Fribourg, Switzerland. He received his licentiate in philosophy and theology from the Catholic
University of Fribourg and as a layman was an active member of Communion and Liberation. In 1984, he entered the abbey of Hauterive and ten years later was elected abbot. Written originally in Italian,
Simon Called Peter has been translated into both French and German. Other works by Lepori include L'amato presente.
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| From Christ, The Ideal of the Priest
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