Cougar Dad's Club

Cougar Convers(at)ions 

Next meeting: Friday, August 25th, 7:30-8:00am
Location: Karen Vickery office (Lower School main floor)

Questions?  Contact Jason Neff, or 785.383.0927

Study Notes for Friday (8/25) meeting

Printable packet:

Cougar Dad Study Notes - 25 Aug 17 (.pdf)

READ: Matthew 16:13-20


13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 



PERSONAL MEDITATION - Fr. John Bartunek, from The Better Part

Christian Rock


“Love for the Roman Pontiff must be in us a delightful passion, for in him we see Christ.”

– St. Josemaria Escriva


Christ the Lord


The Lord announces his plans to build a Church, a community of believers that will overthrow the rule of evil, which has dominated the world since the fall of Adam and Eve.


The city of Caesarea Philippi was constructed on the top of a huge hill, one side of which was a bare rock cliff.  It gave the town an appearance of invincibility and magnificence.  Here Jesus explains that his Church will be invincible, because it will be founded on rock, the rock of Peter, whose special role is guaranteed by “my heavenly Father.”  Peter will receive the authority to rule that Church in Christ’s name.  This authority is symbolized by the keys and the “binding and loosing”: the former refers to authority held in ancient Israel by the King’s master of the palace (cf. Is 22:22); the latter refers to the authority of the Jewish synagogue leader to expel and reinstate people from the synagogue community, in order to preserve the community’s religious and moral integrity.  This authority has remained intact through twenty centuries of popes (the successors of St. Peter as Vicars of Christ on earth), giving the Catholic Church unity of faith, worship, and governance in spite of its members’ many failings.  Christ had the authority; he demonstrated it over and over again.  He gave it to Peter – he didn’t have to, but he wanted to spread his Kingdom through a Church that was both human and divine, just as he wanted to redeem us through the two natures (human and divine) of the Incarnation.  We may find God’s strategy hard to understand (why didn’t Christ himself just stick around after his resurrection to rule the Church?) but we cannot deny it.


Critics twist this passage into nonsensical knots by pointing out that the Greek word for rock (Peter) is of the feminine gender (in Greek all nouns are gender-specific).  They conclude, therefore, that Christ wasn’t really applying the term to Simon (even though he changed it into a masculine form when he made it into a name) but only to Simon’s faith.  Or else they claim that Christ said these words while pointing to himself.  Such objections make complicated a text that is actually quite simple.  They also ignore the many other passages in the New Testament that illustrate Peter’s primacy among the Twelve.  For example: Christ originally renamed him “Peter” in Chapter 1 of John’s Gospel, when he first met him – and renaming people in the Bible is much more than handing out nicknames; it signifies receiving a new role in salvation history.  During the Last Supper Christ prayed in a special way for Peter and gave him a special commission to “confirm your brethren in the faith” (Luke 22:32); Christ gave him a unique commission after his resurrection (John 21); Peter’s name always appears first on the lists of the Twelve Apostles…


There is one Lord: Jesus Christ.  And he founded a Church to wage his definitive war against sin and evil: that Church’s keys are in Peter’s hands.





A part of the American spirit of independence, for better and for worse, is to be suspicious of authority.  A common bumper sticker proudly proclaims “Reject Authority.”  Surely there is some good that comes from a healthy skepticism of authority, because in a sinful world, man is often prone to seek to unjustly dominate his fellows in an attempt to maximize his own individual well-being at the expense of others’.  Such unjust domination should certainly be opposed.  However, an unfortunate byproduct can be an unhealthy skepticism of all authority.  This side effect, also caused by man wounded by the fall, has at its root in pride.  Sometimes we reject authority not because it is unjust, but because we simply don’t want to submit to anyone else’s will.  Sometimes even when we speak pious-sounding phrases like “I submit to no one but God,” we can actually mean that we are only willing to submit to the false god of self.


As discussed in the personal reflection from Fr. Bartunek, Christ established a Church, built on Peter as the first Pope.  Peter then handed on this authority as the “royal prime minister,” or Vicar of Christ, in an unbroken line of succession to all of the subsequent Popes, and the Bishops in union with those popes.  Christ asks obedience of his duly appointed ministers…the question is, will we submit?  The same question could be asked about our willingness to submit to other justly appointed leaders (assuming they don’t ask us to do anything immoral).  The extent to which we demonstrate joyful obedience is likely to have a strong impact on the obedience our children will exhibit towards us and others who have their best interests at heart.  Are we setting the right example of obedience for our children?





  1. What effect should the knowledge of Christ’s assured victory have on your daily actions and attitudes?  What can we do to increase that effect?


  1. What affect does the knowledge of Christ’s assured victory have on your interactions with your children?  Is this a part of your dialogue with your children?  If not, how do you make it more a part of your family life?


  1. If someone you know were to ask why Catholics have to “go through the Pope to get to God,” how would you answer?


  1. As a father, in what areas of your life can you demonstrate better obedience to valid authority as a model for your own children to follow?



FURTHER STUDY: Catechism and Ignatius Bible Study Notes



CCC 552 

Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Christ, the “living stone,”285 thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death.


Ignatius Bible Study notes:


 16:13–20 The Gospels generally highlight Peter’s preeminence among the disciples (10:2; Lk 22:31–32; Jn 1:42; 21:15–18). This episode defines his role explicitly. ● Jesus’ blessing on Peter draws from OT traditions about the Davidic covenant. The key concepts and images (Christ / Son of the living God / rock / build / gates of Hades / keys / kingdom) are all connected with Israel’s kingdom established under David and confirmed by Solomon and his construction of the Temple (cf. 2 Sam 7:4–17; Ps 2:7; 89; 132). Although David’s empire crumbled in 586 b.c., Jesus announces its restoration in the New Covenant (cf. Mk 11:10; Lk 1:32–33; Acts 15:15–18). Christ is the long-awaited “son of David”, who rebuilds and transforms the ancient kingdom in the Church. See introduction: Themes. ● Vatican I (1870) cited this episode as biblical support for the primacy of Peter and successive popes. The Council’s interpretation touches five points of doctrine: (1) The Magisterium built upon Peter is instituted by Jesus Christ; (2) Peter is given a unique role as chief teacher and ruler (primacy of jurisdiction) over the Church; (3) Peter is the visible head of the Church; (4) Peter’s authority is passed on through successors; (5) through Peter, Christ himself assures the infallible preservation of the gospel in the Church.

16:13 Caesarea Philippi: A predominantly Gentile city north of Palestine. It was originally known as Panion (or Paneas) because of a shrine built there to the Greco-Roman god Pan. When Herod the Great’s son Philip became tetrarch of that region (4 b.c.–a.d. 33), he rebuilt the city and renamed it in honor of Tiberius Caesar, adding his own name to distinguish it from the Judean coastal city of Caesarea.

16:16 Son of the living God: The confession is double-sided: (1) Peter proclaims the mystery of Christ’s divinity as the head and spokesman of the Church (cf. 11:25–27; 14:33). (2) Peter sees Jesus as the awaited Messiah-king of Israel (26:63; Jn 1:49). The close relationship between the titles Christ and Son reflects OT traditions, where Israel’s kings enjoyed unique relationships with God as his sons (2 Sam 7:14; Ps 2:7; 89:27; CCC 436, 439, 442). See word study: Christ at Mk 14.

 16:17 Blessed are you: Jesus blesses Peter and elevates him to be the chief patriarch of the New Covenant. ● Parallels between Genesis and Jesus’ words (16:17–19) suggest that Peter assumes a role in salvation history similar to Abraham’s. (1) Both are blessed by God (Gen 14:19); (2) both respond with heroic faith (Heb 11:8); (3) both receive a divine mission (Gen 12:1–3); (4) both have their names changed (Gen 17:5); (5) both are called a “rock” (Is 51:1–2); and (6) both are assured a victory over the “gate” of their enemies (Gen 22:17). Simon Bar-Jona: Literally means “Simon son of Jonah”. Since Peter’s father is actually named “John” (Jn 1:42), the title may be symbolic. (1) Jesus’ role as a new Jonah (12:39–41) may suggest he views Peter as his spiritual son. (2) Since the Hebrew name “Jonah” means “dove”, Jesus may point to the relationship between Peter and the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the same Spirit who confirmed Jesus’ Sonship in the form of a dove (3:16) now inspires Peter’s confession. flesh and blood: A Semitic idiom for human beings, emphasizing their natural limitations and weaknesses (Sir 14:18; Gal 1:16).

 16:18 I will build: Jesus portrays the Church as a spiritual Temple (cf. 1 Cor 3:16–17; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:19–22; 1 Pet 2:4–8). ● As Solomon was the son of David and the anointed Temple builder in the OT, so Jesus is the Davidic “Son” of God (16:16) and the anointed Messiah who builds the Church in the New. Jesus elsewhere sees himself as both similar and superior to King Solomon (12:42). See note on Mt 7:24. my Church: Among the Gospels, Matthew alone uses the word Church (18:17). The word is used often in the Greek OT for the “congregation” or “assembly” of Israel united to God. Jesus uses it in a similar way for the New Covenant community. the gates of Hades: In the OT, Hades—also called “Sheol” or “the Pit”—is the place of the dead where souls descend through its gates (Ps 9:13, 17; Wis 16:13; Is 38:10; Jon 2:2). It is not hell, but a temporary realm where souls are detained until the Last Judgment (Rev 20:13–15). By extension, Hades is also the habitation of evil forces that bring about death and deception (Rev 6:8; 20:1–3). According to Jewish tradition, the foundation stone (Heb.‘eben shetiyyah) of the Jerusalem Temple capped off and sealed a long shaft leading down to the netherworld (Rev 9:1–2; 20:1–3). The Temple, resting securely on a rock, was thus the center of the cosmos, the junction between heaven and Hades. Drawing from this background, Jesus guarantees that the powers of death and deception will not overcome the Church—i.e., the new Temple built on Peter. He enables Peter (and his successors) to hold error at bay and faithfully proclaim the gospel (CCC 552).

16:19 the keys: A symbol of teaching authority (Lk 11:52). Jesus consecrates Peter as the Church’s chief teacher, whose office will continue on through successors. The plural use of keys may imply a connection with the “gates” in 16:18 and mean that Peter’s position includes, among other things, the authority to release the righteous souls who are detained in Hades but destined for heaven. ● In the OT Davidic empire, the king appointed a cabinet of ministers for specific tasks in the kingdom (1 Kings 4:1–6; 2 Kings 18:37). Of these, a prime minister was elevated to unique status of authority, ranking second only to the king. This government structure was common among kingdoms in the ancient Near East (cf. Gen 41:39–43; Esther 3:1–2). Jesus here evokes Is 22:15–25, where the prime minister’s office is handed on to a successor by the symbolic act of handing on the “key of the house [i.e., kingdom] of David” (Is 22:22). In Matthew, Jesus is the new Davidic king, who appoints Peter the prime minister over the kingdom of heaven in the Church. As in Is 22, Peter’s position is designed for him and his successors; the office is meant to endure as long as the kingdom itself. Entrusted with the keys, Peter wields Christ’s own royal authority (cf. Rev 1:18; 3:7). whatever you bind … loose: Familiar language in early Jewish literature. The metaphor carries several connotations: (1) It signifies teaching authority and the ability to render binding decisions. Rabbis were said to make “binding” interpretations of the Law. (2) It denotes authority to include or exclude members of a religious community. (3) It signals the forgiveness of sins (Tg Neof in Gen 4:7). The verb loose is used this way in Rev 1:5 (translated “freed”) and by the early Church Fathers (cf. Jn 20:23). Peter is thus invested with Christ’s authority as the kingdom’s chief teacher and administrator; through him heaven governs the Church on earth (cf. Jn 21:15–17; 1 Tim 3:15; CCC 553, 1445).


The Cougar Dads Club is open to all HSP men!  

The Dads Club offers HSP Dads an opportunity to interact and contribute through:

  • Periodic social activities - School kickoff social, Braves night, Pig Roast, and more!
  • Faith formation through bi-weekly Scripture reflections on the Sunday mass readings - our "Dads Cougar Convers(at)ions" (Friday mornings from 7:30-8 in the Vickery office at the Lower School)
  • Cougar Dads service day at HSP

Our biweekly newsletter - the Cougar Dad Cave - is designed to keep Dads appraised of Dads Club and Dad-oriented HSP activities, as well as provide ongoing faith formation through Scripture, the Church, and other media relevant for fathers.

Email Jason Neff, Cougar Dads Club leader at for more information.