Category Archives: Saints

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

Saint Norbert

St Norbert with Eucharist and olive branch

This hymn text by J. Michael Thompson was published before, but it bears repeating again because as a prayer, it names the desires of the heart and puts us in right-relation to the Lord through the life of Saint Norbert.

“I myself shall lead my sheep,
Guarding them from danger;
They shall hear and follow me,
Not go with a stranger.
Into pastures rich and green—
God the Lord has spoken—
I shall bring my Israel,
With my love as token.”

Norbert, father of his flock,
Took to heart this warning,
And in all his works and words
Toiled from night to morning.
Guiding all within his cure,
He took time to nourish
With the love of Christ most fair,
Causing souls to flourish.

Father of the canon’s life,
Bishop of his city,
Prayed before the Eucharist,
Served the poor with pity.
Crowned a sacrificial life
With a death of glory;
Now we join with saints above
To retell his story!

Glory to the Father give,
Source of ev’ry blessing,
Glory to the Son we sing,
Who, our wrongs addressing,
Came to us as one of us!
To the Spirit, praises!
Hear the songs of thankfulness
Each believer raises!

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
76 76 D
ST. KEVIN, AVE VIRGO VIRGINUM

Saint Jeremiah

Holy Prophet Jeremiah.jpg

The Catholic Church places the Old Testament prophets, like Jeremiah, for example, as saints. The Roman Martyrology is the Church’s official book listing the saints (the entry is below); typically the OT prophets are not commemorated at the altar.

 

Saint Jeremiah’s Prayer for Protection

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed. Save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my boast. Behold they say to me,”Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come.” But I have not grown weary in following after You, nor have I desired the day of man. You know the words of my lips are before Your face. Do not be as a stranger to me, and spare me in the evil day. Let those who persecute me be put to shame, but I may not be ashamed. May they , but not I, be terrified. Bring upon them an evil day and crush them with a double destruction.

 

From the Roman Martyrology (2005), we read, 

 

Commemoratio sancti Ieremiae, prophetae, qui, tempore Ioachim et Sedeciae, regum Iudae, Civitatis Sanctae eversionem populique deportationem monens, multas persecutiones passus est, quam ob rem Ecclesia eum habuit ut Christi patientis figuram.  Novum aeternumque insuper Testamentum in ipso Christo Iesu consummandum praenuntiavit, quo Pater omnipotens legem suam in imo filiorum Israel corde scriberet, ut esset ipse iis in Deum et essent illi ei in populum.

 

A translation:

The Commemmoration of Saint Jeremiah the prophet, who in the days of Joachim and Zedekiah, Kings of Judah, warned of the sack of the Holy City and the expulsion of its people. He suffered such persecution that the Church holds him as a figure of the suffering Christ. He, moreover, prophesied the the new and everlasting testament would be perfected in Christ Jesus Himself in Whom the almighty Father would write His law in the very hearts of the sons of Israel, that He might be their God and they His people.

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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