The Denying Of Peter

BENING, Simon 
Prayer Book of Cardinal Albrecht 
c. 1525

But Peter sat without in the court: and there came to him a servant maid, saying: Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean. But he denied before them all, saying: I know not what thou sayest. And as he went out of the gate, another maid saw him, and she saith to them that were there: This man also was with Jesus of Nazareth.And again he denied with an oath, I know not the man. And after a little while they came that stood by, and said to Peter: Surely thou also art one of them; for even thy speech doth discover thee. Then he began to curse and to swear that he knew not the man. And immediately the cock crew. Mt.26.

Consider first that whereas all the Apostles, (as our Lord had aforesaid) had suffered scandal, yet only Peters denial is repeated by the Evangelists,and by all of them, both because it seemed so strange & incredible, that Peter could deny Christ, that this his sin could not be comprehended by the Evangelists themselves: and also because many men mark the faults of their superiors. And lastly considering that he who was the foundation of the Church did sin, that thou shouldest neither doubt, but that the other Disciples suffered scandal, nor yet presume of thine own strength. For no man committeth that sin, which another would not do; if the guide be wanting, which created man.

Consider secondly when Peter denied Christ? In the night, & when it was cold. If thou wilt not behold the light of truth, and convert thyself wholly unto Christ, in thine own conscience,and if the love of God and thy neighbor wax cold in thee,doubt not, but thou shalt  fall into errors of faith, or into more grievous offenses.

Consider thirdly, where he denied? where Christ was taken & bound, in the company of wicked men, in speaking with a woman: avoid these occasions if thou intendest to be holy. And although St.Cyril affirmeth that St. Peter denied not Christ so much through fear of any hurt, which might happen unto him, as through a kind of love, least he should be thrust out of the house, & so deprived of his presence. Yet it is most certain, that he committed a most grievous sin. Beware thou, least under any color of devotion or virtue, thou dost transgress the law of God & of his Church. For evil is not to be done that good may come thereof.

Consider fourthly that Christ is not denied by him only,who saith that Jesus is not Christ, but also by him, who being christened denyeth himself to be a Christian, and the Disciple of Christ, and this may be done not only in words, but also in deeds, by those which profess to know God, but in their deeds, do deny him. For doest thou think (saith St.Bernard) that any man thinketh Jesus to be the Son of God,who neither feareth his threatening, nor is moved by his promises,nor obeyeth his commandments, nor alloweth his counsels?How often then hast thou denied Christ, and yet hast not done penance with Peter.

Consider fifthly the cock crowed,but he being otherwise busied observed it not, for our Lord did not yet look upon him. Be thou at no time so overwhelmed with business or sins, but that thou always attend the voice of God speaking in thee, and that thou mayest hear thy neighbor admonishing thee.

Fr. Francis Costerus S.J.


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