Sea of Galilee - by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn -
Jesus sleeps in the stern of the Boat depicted in Matthew's Gospel Story (8:23-26)
Then He got into the Boat and His Disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the Lake, so that the waves swept over the Boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The Disciples went and woke Him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little Faith, why are you so afraid?' Then He got up and rebuked the Winds and the Waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:23-26)
The Boat itself is a Symbol for the Church, the Bark of Peter. The Boat holds the Apostles, and Symbolically all of Christ's Disciples. "The World is a Sea in which the Church, like a Ship, is beaten by the waves, but not submerged". We are doing God's Work, fishing for People, in Peter's Boat, the Church. However, we are Strangers in a Foreign Land, i.e. the Boat is on the Sea, on the Chaos that is not God. It is a Dangerous and Storm-Swept Place, where even Seasoned-Fishermen Fear. Yet the place that is not-of-God contains the People who Need God, the People who Need Salvation.
Saint Anselm said that the Bark of the Church may be Swept by the Waves, but it can never Sink, because Christ is there. When the Church is in Greatest Need, Christ comes to its help by Miracles, or by raising-up Saintly Men to Strengthen and Purify it. It is the Bark of Peter; when the Storm threatens to Sink it, the Lord awakens from His Sleep, and Commands the Winds and Waters into Calm: Peace; be still!
Saint Francis de Sales: In the Royal Galley of Divine Love, there is no Galley Slave; all Rowers are Volunteers.
The Church is also the 'Barque' of Peter. The Powers of Darkness will never Submerge that Barque. Come what may - Storms, Disasters, Floods - the Ship to which we belong will never Sink. With its Precious Cargo of Souls, it will reach its Safe-Harbor, the Port of Eternal Bliss.
Christ guards the Church He founded, as it makes its way across the Ocean of Centuries. He designated Peter, and after Peter his Successors, to Steer the Ship through what have often been Very Troubled Waters. Time-after-Time, Century-after-Century, the Barque of Peter has been thrown from side-to-side on the Waves of Misfortune, Heresy, Apostasy and Schism, a Long List of Disasters. Yet it never goes under. The Waves never totally engulf the Church. At certain times, during Twenty (20) Catholic Centuries, it certainly might have seemed as if the Light of the Spirit had been all but extinguished. But never quite. The Church goes on, Saving Souls and Journeying to its Final Harbor. In that Blessed Realm, beyond the Seas of this Life, all the things which Threaten God's Church in this World will be gone for ever. The Church will achieve its Final Destiny in the Bliss of the Communion of Saints. There in the company of Mary, Mother of the Elect, together with Peter, Paul and all the Saints, the Church Triumphant will sing for ever the Praises of Him Who calls us out of Darkness, into His Marvelous Light.
Nave ... the Sturdy Ship that carries us to Salvation
The Nave is the Main Body of a Church, excluding the Transepts (Side Arms) and the Chancel (the Altar and Choir area). It is where the People gather to Worship. The term "Nave" comes from "Navis", the Latin word for Ship; a Church Building is a Symbolic Ship for Worshippers, and the Ribbing high above the Floor resembles the inside of an "upside-down" Ship's Hull.
Architecturally it is the central, open space of a Church, West of the Choir or Chancel, and separated there from by a low wall or screen. It is divided from the side aisles by columns, shafts, or piers, is roofed with timber or vaulted in masonry, and usually rises above the level of the aisle roofs to provide high windows for lighting. Colloquially, the term is used to indicate that portion of a Church reserved for Worshippers, and including the central and side aisles, crossing Transepts. The name is derived from the Latin Navis, a Ship, with reference to the Bark of Saint Peter or the Ark of Noah. In this case, the Ship (the Church) transports the Faithful from Earth to Heaven.
The Church is where those People desiring Salvation gather together to make a Journey together, like in a Great Ship. And whenever People all over the World gather there, they are all in the same Huge Ship (the Church) making that same Journey towards Heaven.
This is a Boat of Fishermen. Some of the Apostles were Fishermen too. Jesus uses this to make a Prophecy.
Matthew 4:17-20 - "From that time Jesus began to proclaim, 'Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.' As He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a Net into the sea - for they were Fishermen. And He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you Fishers of Men.' Immediately they left their Nets and followed Him".
The reference to the Kingdom fits too, because Jesus compares the Kingdom to a Net.
The Calling of Simon Peter [Luke 5:1-11]
In the following Gospel Story of Luke, note that of the Two (2) available Boats, Jesus selected Simon's Boat. Here the Spotlight is on Simon Peter, who would later lead the early Church, but his Companions are always in the Shadows, ready to help. Simon's Boat is seen as a Symbol of the Pilgrim Church on Earth. Jesus gets into Simon Peter's Boat in order to Teach the Crowds; and from the Bark of Peter, the Church, He continues to Teach the Whole World. The Vastness of the Catch is a Symbol of the Many Nations to whom the Gospel will be Preached.
Luke's Gospel Story is a lesson about the future. The Lord sends His Apostles out on to the Lake in a Boat, and in that Boat there are Many Roles to fill. There is the Captain, there are Men to Row, Men to Mind the Sail - there are Men to Cast the Nets, to Haul in the Fish - and when the Boat returns to shore, there are Men and Women to Clean the Fish, to Salt some of the Catch for Preserving, and to take the rest for Cooking, so that everyone may Feast, and their Hunger be Assuaged.
This is not the only time in the Gospels, when the Boat, the Fishing Boat, the Bark of Peter figures in Our Lord's Teaching to His Apostles. One time, while He sleeps, a storm rages, putting the Fear of Death into the Apostles. But Our Lord wakes up and calms the storm. Another time, His desire to be with His men moves Him to walk upon the Waters, and He challenges Peter to do the same. Both times, Our Lord chides His Men about their Lack of Faith - for if we have Faith in Him, in His Care for us, then no Storm will overturn the Boat in which we sail, and no Water will open to swallow us up in Darkness.
The Boat, dear friends, is the Church, and Peter is its Captain - but always above, more powerful than the Storm or the Deep, and always ready to provide the Food we need, is the Holy Spirit, the Protecting Arm of the Lord, the Invincible Strength, against which, as He promised, the Gates of Hell will not prevail. And in the Boat and upon the shore waiting are the Men and Women of the Church - Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Religious, lay Men and Women, each with their Function, each with their Work to make the Boat Work, to haul-in the Catch, and to provide for the Needs of all whose life depends upon the Boat, and the Boat's Payload.
We all are in the Boat together. What does this mean for each of us?
It means First, that we are to Trust the Lord to show us the way, to bring us to our goals safely, and to feed our Souls on the Journey. You will no doubt encounter Problems - there will be days when you cast out your nets all day long, and at the end of the day, you will think there is nothing to show for it. At those times, you must listen to the Lord, as Saint Peter did, and cast again - for it is your Faith that is being Tested - not as to whether you profess it or not - but as to whether you are ready to do something about it or not. These years are given you to learn to Trust the Lord, and you should take full advantage of the time you have - to learn from Scripture everything the Lord says to do - to study as well, the Holy Rites of our Church with which you are to be trusted, for they are the Link between Heaven and Earth, and deserve all our attention, all our Devotion, and the best we are able to bring to their practice - and to increase in every way, your Willingness to serve others, to see and to solve the Needs of those you are to serve, and to find in every situation, no matter how Hard, a way to Love, to show the Charity of God for those who are your Brothers and Sisters. By doing these things, you will be learning your own futures, as Peter learned about the future of the Church he was to lead, and doing it, as he did, "at the Word" of the Lord.
And last, we all ride in the Bark of Peter, the Church - we all face the Storms and the Fear of sinking together - but together, we also shelter under the Powerful and Over-Arching Wings of the Holy Spirit. We do not win by ourselves - we win by pulling-together, by manning the Boat according to our Individual Talents, and working as a Team to stay afloat. We Pray for one another - we take Care of one another in times of Illness, of Trouble, of Doubt. That is how the Lord expects us to work in this Boat together.
Finally, let us remember that Saint Peter did not hesitate, when he realized the Weakness of his Faith, to fall-down at the Feet of the Lord, and call himself what he was, and what we all are, saying: "Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man".
We cannot be Proud - Pride was the undoing of our First Parents - we must be Humble, for only then can we remain United to one another in Christian Love, only then can we be together in that Bark which sails across the Sea of Life, only then can we be the same in the Eyes of the Lord. And only then, can we be Saved together by His Strong Arm - from Hunger, from the Storm, from the Abyss.
For the Lord does not Abandon those who come seeking His Mercy, His Forgiveness. He walks upon the waters, He Calms the Storm, He guides the Boat into Safe Harbor, and brings with Him the Great Catch, the Great Feast, to which we are all summoned - the Feast of His Body and Blood, our Food for Eternal Life.
As explained previously, the term Nave derives from the Latin Navis meaning a 'Ship'. The comparison of a Church Building to a Ship was made at an early date (circa 367 AD) in the Apostolic Constitution which says:
Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias [John 21:1-14]
The Boat in John's Gospel Story once again Symbolizes the Church. The Net thrown by the Disciples Symbolizes the "Evangelization (fishing) of all Peoples" by the Church. The Quantity of fish netted, One Hundred and Fifty-Three (153), is the total number of Species of Fish known by the Greek Civilization at that particular time in History. Therefore, this Number represents All of Mankind to which the Saving Power of God's Word will be made known by Christ's Church on Earth, before the End of Time.
Thurible and Incense-Boat
Incense, with its sweet-smelling perfume and high-ascending smoke, is typical of the Good Christian's Prayer, which, enkindled in the Heart by the Fire of God's Love and exhaling the odor of Christ, rises up a pleasing offering in His Sight (cf. Amalarius, "De eccles. officiis" in P.L., CV). Incensing is the act of imparting the odor of incense. The Thurible is held in the right hand at the height of the breast, and grasped by the chain near the cover; the left hand, holding the top of the chain, is placed on the breast. The Thurible is then raised upwards to the height of the eyes, given an outward motion and slightly ascending towards the object to be incensed, and at once brought back to the starting point. This constitutes a single swing. For a double swing the outward motion should be repeated, the second movement being more pronounced than the first. The dignity of the person or thing will determine whether the swing is to be single or double, and also whether one swing or more are to be given. The Incense-Boat is the Vessel containing the incense for immediate use. It is so called from its shape resembling the Boat of Saint Peter. It is generally carried by the Thurifer in the disengaged hand.
The Bark of Peter and
Saint John Bosco explained that the Church will endure Grave Trials and Persecutions. The Church's Enemies will try their utmost to Destroy Her. But Two Things will preserve the Church in that hour:
Devotion to Mary and
Saint Anselm said that the Bark of the Church may be Swept by the Waves, but it can never Sink, because Christ is there. When the Church is in Greatest Need, Christ comes to its help by Miracles, or by raising up Saintly Men to Strengthen and Purify it. It is the Bark of Peter; when the Storm threatens to Sink it, the Lord awakens from His Sleep, and Commands the Winds and Waters into Calm: Peace; be still!
A series of 28 minute presentations on the Barque of Peter by Father Robert Levis, Ph.D
Our Lady of Victory and the Sea Battle of Lepanto
Spiritual Aridity and the Sargasso Sea