Category Archives: Saints

Saint Thomas

Sts Andrew and Thomas Bernini 1627Although the doors were closed,
Jesus appeared to his disciples.
He took away their fear and granted them peace.
Then He called Thomas and said to him:
“Why did you doubt My resurrection from the dead?
Place your hand in My side;
see My hands and My feet.
Through your lack of faith,
everyone will come to know of My passion and My resurrection,
and they will cry out with you:
My Lord and My God, glory to You!

Through the Apostles we come to know and love the Savior of humanity in ways unimaginable. Thomas, as the text from the Byzantine Liturgy for “Thomas Sunday” suggests, is a keen witness to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The miracle of trampling death by death itself requires of man and woman the openness to follow a witness who points, who interrogates, who gives voice to, a wonder never seen and experienced for now. The so-called doubts of Thomas can really be understood from the viewpoint of faith and reason: is it reason that a man be raised from the dead? Is it reasonable to speak about this fact from the eyes of faith? Thomas stands before the Lord and gives the answer in the affirmative. Faith is the capacity to see all of life, the small and the great, the seen and unseen, the common and the miraculous as a way of knowing. Thomas knows because of evidence; he has faith in the Lord Jesus because what the Lord taught is reasonable and recognizable. Blessed are those who believe.

Here is the post from last year.

Apostles as earth’s pillars

St Peter & PaulYou can see from the three posts on this feast of Saints Peter and Paul that these blessed witnesses mean something to me, besides the obvious. One of the things to consider is to remember that we all need good formation in the Christian faith. How else to appreciate the roots of the faith but to know how the Church sees the pillars. Here is the Cistercian Father and Saint Aelred of Rielvaux’s (1110-1167), sermon (18; PL 195, 298), for the feast:

“upon this rock I will build my church” The earth moves with all its inhabitants, I even signed his columns” (Sl 75.4). All the Apostles are pillars of the Earth, but first the two whose feast we celebrate. They are the two columns which support the Church through his teaching, his prayer and example of their constancy. It was the Lord himself that strengthened these columns; because initially they were weak, unable to stand and support the other. And here pops up the grand plan of the Lord: they were always strong, one might think that his strength came from themselves. So before they build, the Lord wanted to show what they were capable of, to let everyone know that your strength comes from God. […] Pedro was released on Earth by a simple voice created […]; another column was also very weak: ‘ even though I have been a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent” (1 Tim 1.13). […]

That’s why we praise wholeheartedly these saints, our parents, who have suffered a lot for the Lord and who persevered with so much fortitude. It costs nothing to persevere in joy, happiness and peace; be great is to be stoned, scourged, flogged for Christ (2 Cor 11.25), and persevere with Christ. It’s great to be cursed and blessed as Paul, being chased and endure, be maligned and comfort, be like the garbage in the world and that take glory (1 Cor -13 4.12). […] And what about Peter? Even if he hadn’t endured anything for Christ, we would be happy to celebrate today, having been crucified for Him. […] He knew where he was the one whom she loved, one who wanted […]: its cross was your way to heaven.

Symbols of Unity and Peace: Peter and Paul

Sts Peter and Paul 4th century Roman catacombsThe saints honored today reveal much about who we are as Christians. Remember Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles, and Peter as first bishop of Antioch before going to Rome to the first bishop there. Have you ever wondered why they go together? The image used here is an early 4th century image of  Peter and Paul together found in the catacombs of Rome. A friend, Fr Dustin Lyon, an orthodox priest friend offered the following detail on the apostles’ connection.

“[On icons] Peter and Paul exchange the kiss of peace. …The kiss of the first pope [bishop of Rome] and the ‘apostle of the people’ symbolizes the unity of the Church… It was a peace they had managed to establish at the Council of Jerusalem in the year 48, even though the former represented the Church of the Law (circumcised Jews) and the latter the Church of Grace (uncircumcised pagans). Yet at Antioch, when Peter avoids the Gentiles, Paul reprimands him, ‘I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned’ (Galatians 2:11). …They are both represented in all icons in which the apostles are gathered, even events at which Paul was not present.” (Alfredo Tradigo, Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004), pg. 267).

The great Augustine, bishop of Hippo teaches:

“This day has been made holy by the passion of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. We are, therefore, not talking about some obscure martyrs. ‘For their voice has gone forth to all the world, and to the ends of the earth their message.’ (Psalm 19:4) These martyrs realize what they taught: they pursued justice, the confessed the truth, they died for it… Both apostles share the same feast day, but these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles’ blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching and their confession of faith.”

Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Naming of St John BaptistChrist is the completion of the law for righteousness unto every one that believes. … For this reason the blessed Baptist is brought forward, as one who had attained the foremost place in legal righteousness, and to a praise so far incomparable. And yet even thus he is ranked as less than one who is least: “for the least, He says, is greater than he in the kingdom of God.” But the kingdom of God signifies, as we affirm, the grace that is by faith, by means of which we are accounted worthy of every blessing, and of the possession of the rich gifts which come from above from God. For it frees us from all blame; and makes us to be the sons of God, partakers of the Holy Ghost, and heirs of a heavenly inheritance.

St. Cyril of Alexandria
Sermon XXXVIII [Commentary on Luke]

Saint Barnabas

St BarnabasWe read that in the first days of the Church, the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul; and none said that anything which he possessed was his own. (Acts 4:32) Amid this fervent company of Christians who practiced evangelical poverty, one only is singled out by name, Joseph, a rich Levite from Cyprus. He, having land, sold it, and bringing the price, laid it at the feet of the Apostles. They then gave him a new name, Barnabas, son of consolation. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and was soon chosen for an important mission, the rapidly growing Church of Antioch. Here he perceived the great work which was waiting to be done among the Greeks, and therefore he hastened to seek out and bring Saint Paul to Antioch, from his retirement at Tarsus.

When the prophet Agabus at Antioch foretold a great universal famine, Barnabas and Paul were selected by the faithful, to take to the Church of Jerusalem their generous offerings for the poor of that city. It was also at Antioch that the two Saints were named for the apostolate of the Gentiles; and they sailed together for Cyprus and then to the cities of Asia Minor. Their preaching struck men with amazement, and some cried out, The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men! calling Paul Mercury, and Barnabas Jupiter. The Saints traveled together once again, to the Council of Jerusalem, and told of the signs and wonders which God had wrought among the Gentiles during their missionary journey. Shortly after this they separated; Barnabas with John Mark went to Cyprus, while Paul with Silas returned to Asia Minor.

The tradition of Milan, Italy, reveals that Saint Barnabas went from Cyprus to Italy, and in Milan founded its church; he is still honored there as its first bishop. After seven years he consecrated Saint Anathalon to replace him, and returned to Cyprus to visit the churches. He crisscrossed the island several times to bring to every city and village the Holy Name of the Son of God. In Salamis, some of the recalcitrants plotted together to kill him. He was aware of the conspiracy; nonetheless, after foretelling to John Mark that he would die that same day, he went to the synagogue to preach as usual. It was there that he was stoned as a blasphemer, in the year 61 of our era. Saint John Mark succeeded in burying him near Salamis.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 6

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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