Tag Archives: Sts Peter and Paul

Trusting our Sainted Founders Peter and Paul

Sts Peter and PaulMother Church liturgically remembers today the lives of Saints Peter and Paul. The Apostles Peter and Paul are known as the founders of our Church. As a point of fact, the Church has always considered St. Peter and St. Paul together —they are inseparable. Historically, we know them to born as Jews; each had a personal encounter with Jesus. And each had unique and unrepeatable set of gifts to offer. Both received the mission from Jesus Christ to make the Church a reality in Rome and thus for the world. Their vocation included the sacrifice of their lives in the service of the Gospel: St. Peter was crucified upside down and St. Paul, a Roman citizen, was beheaded with a sword. The point of drawing our attention to Sts. Peter and Paul is to ask if we follow the experience and teaching of these Holy Apostles who were great founders of our Church? Do we know them? Do we trust that their teaching directs our steps on the path that leads to heaven?

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI preached the following homily to new archbishops, words appropriate for us to reflect upon for our formation of faith:

“‘In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.’ Christian faith is hope. It paves the way to the future. And it is a hope that possesses reasonableness, a hope whose reason we can and must explain. Faith comes from the eternal Reason that entered our world and showed us the true God. Faith surpasses the capacity of our reason, just as love sees more than mere intelligence. But faith speaks to reason and in the dialectic confrontation can be a match for reason. It does not contradict it but keeps up with it and goes beyond it to introduce us into the greater Reason of God. It is our task not to let it remain merely a tradition but to recognize it as a response to our questions. Faith demands our rational participation, which is deepened and purified in a sharing of love. It is one of our duties … to penetrate faith with thought, to be able to show the reason for our hope within the debates of our time. Yet although it is so necessary thought alone does not suffice. Just as speaking alone does not suffice. In his baptismal and Eucharistic catechesis in chapter 2 of his Letter, Peter alludes to the Psalm used by the ancient Church in the context of communion, that is, to the verse which says: ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good!’ (Ps 34[33]: 8; 1 Pt 2: 3).

Tasting alone leads to seeing. Let us think of the disciples of Emmaus: it was only in convivial communion with Jesus, only in the breaking of the bread that their eyes were opened. Only in truly experienced communion with the Lord were they able to see. This applies to us all; over and above thinking and speaking, we need the experience of faith, the vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Faith must not remain theory: it must be life. If we encounter the Lord in the Sacrament, if we speak to him in prayer, if in the decisions of daily life we adhere to Christ then ‘we see’ more and more how good he is; then we experience how good it is to be with him. Moreover the capacity to communicate faith to others in a credible way stems from this certainty lived. The Curé d’Ars was not a great thinker; but he ‘tasted’ the Lord. He lived with him even in the details of daily life, as well as in the great demands of his pastoral ministry. In this way he became ‘one who sees.’ He had tasted so he knew that the Lord is good. Let us pray the Lord that he may grant us this ability to taste, and that we may thus become credible witnesses of the hope that is in us.”

(written/edited for the OLOP bulletin, 6/26/2016)

Sts Peter and Paul

Peter and PaulA meditation on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul

“Conduct yourselves with fear in the time of your sojourning” (1 Peter 1:17).

These are the words of the great Apostle Peter, words that have a dual foundation: heavenly inspiration and personal experience. By divine inspiration, Peter, a simple fisherman, became a teacher of the people, a pillar of the Faith and a powerful miracle-worker. According to his own experience he learned that all of his wisdom and power was of God and, because of that, one should possess the fear of God. No other fear, except the fear of God.

The foolish one becomes frightened only when lightning flashes and thunder cracks but the wise man fears God every day and every hour. The Creator of lightning and thunder is more awesome than both of them and He does not appear before you, from time to time, as lightning and thunder rather He is continually before you and does not move away from you. That is why it is not enough, from time to time, to have fear of God, but one must breathe in the fear of God. The fear of God is the ozone in the suffocating atmosphere of our soul. This ozone brings purity, easiness, sweet fragrance and health. Until he had become strengthened in the fear of God, Peter was only Peter and not an apostle, hero, teacher of the people and miracle-worker.

O my brethren, let us not rejoice before the harvest. This, our life, is not a harvest but rather, it is a sowing, labor, sweat and fear. The plower lives in fear until he has gathered the fruits from the field. Let us also delay our rejoicing for the day of harvest, for now is the time for labor and fear. Will I be saved? This question should torment every one of us, in the same way that the plower is tormented by the question: “Will I reap the fruit of my labor in the field?” The plower labors and fears everyday. Let us also labor and fear “all the time of our sojourning” on earth.

O awesome and powerful Lord, sustain us in Your fear.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

Take from the Prologue from Ochrid

Saints Peter and Paul

Ss Peter and PaulWe honor the great apostles of the Church, Saints Peter and Paul. Across the Christian community they are celebrated today. The Gospel reveal the wonderful words to Jesus, such as “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” and “Lord you know that I love you.”

Peter and Paul set the standard: they sometimes get relationship wrong, as in the denials (and persecution) of Christ. Both reject the Jesus at first but the Lord has the final say. Both show their willingness to be open to grace which I find striking and inviting. My patron, Paul, on the other hand, gives us sublime spiritual theology about Jesus Christ, the Church, grace, generativity, and much more for the Christian life.

The dual feast today gives us a clear example of how to live in a profound complementarity with Christians so that our witness can deeply nourish the spiritual life of the Church and generate the hundredfold Christ promised us.

Let us pray for the unity of the Church!

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.”

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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