Peter Damian


Last Wednesday the pope spoke of St. Peter Damian, the 11th century saint  from Ravenna, Italy, who was later named cardinal bishop of Ostia, the port of Rome.

Though Peter was drawn to the silence of the monastic life, he was called to work for the reform of the church, which suffered then from abuses resulting from lay investiture. In many places, bishops, abbots, pastors appointed by lay patrons weren’t fit for the job, and the church suffered from the immorality and lack of leadership the practice brought on.

Pope Benedict stressed Peter Damian’s dedication to the mystery of the cross. The hermitage that he loved was dedicated to Holy Cross. He wrote, “He does not love Christ who does not love the cross of Christ,” and he called himself: ” Peter servant of the servants of the cross of Christ.”

He saw the cosmic dimensions of this mystery in the  history of salvation.  “O blessed cross, you are venerated in the faith of patriarchs, the predictions of prophets, the assembly of the apostles, the victorious army of the martyrs and the multitudes of all the saints.”

Peter Damian also saw the cosmic dimensions of the cross in the struggles of his own time, it seems. He wanted a quiet, contemplative life. But he couldn’t just  lose himself in the beauty of contemplation, the pope says. He had “to assist in the work of renewal of the Church,” and the mystery of the cross gave him strength to do it.

I was noticing the cross on top of the church across the way, looking down on the crowded streets below. The mystery’s here too.

1 thought on “Peter Damian

  1. mystagogyfortheanawim

    it isn’t so much that one hears a call to a hermitage… but rather hears a call to ‘tend to’ the plank in his or her own eye before daring to ‘tend to’ the speck in the neighbor’s eye.

    There is something about the journey of Gandhi who repeatedly insisted that whatever failures in communication that occurred were because of the plank in his own eye. His Experiments in Truth were about searching out his planks… one by one.
    … first, let me pray about this and I’ll get back to you later.
    … first, let me fast about this and I’ll get back to you later.
    …first, let me sit in silence about this and I’ll get back to you later.
    …first, let me walk 240 miles, and then I will be ready to make fresh salt from the sea. Planks before specks.. always planks before specks.

    I can see Jesus… going off into the mountains, across the sea, seeking desert time, time in prayer and solitude the always came before Jesus’s moving deeper into His Ministry of Redemption, guiding many a heart, He cries… Abba!

    as Mother Teresa once said, do what you can do for the long haul of it. I heard it as forget these super nova experiences of a day or two, or a weekend. It is the difference between ‘visiting the poor’ and the blessedness of the poor in spirit. It is the difference between being generous toward the poor and the blessedness of those who know their need of God….

    greening a desert takes a long time…
    it appears to be but planks and specks and ends with a tidy lumber yard…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s