Tag Archives: Sts Peter and Paul

Remembering the Church of Rome

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May God grant us to achieve as soon as possible the full unity of all believers in Christ. May we obtain this gift through the Apostles Peter and Paul, who are remembered by the church of Rome this day that commemorates their martyrdom and therefore their birth to life in God. For the sake of the Gospel they accepted suffering and death, and sharers in the Lord’s resurrection. Their faith, confirmed by martyrdom is the same faith as that of Mary, mother of believers, of the Apostles and of the saints of every age.

Blessed John Paul II

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

Today is a perfect day to pray for the Pope and our bishop. It is also a perfect day to pray for Christian unity and to pick up a good book on the Church’s history. Perhaps even pray with Matthew 16.


Grant, we pray, O Lord our God, that we may be sustained by the intercession of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, that, as through them you gave your Church the foundations of her heavenly office, so through them you may help her to eternal salvation.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop

The martyrs realized what they taught

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. These martyrs realized what they taught: they pursued justice, they confessed the truth, they died for it.

Saint Peter, the first of the apostles and a fervent lover of Christ, merited to hear these words: I say to you that you are Peter, for he had said: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Then Christ said: And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church. On this rock I will build the faith that you now confess, and on your words: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my Church. For you are Peter, and the name Peter comes from petra, the word for “rock,” and not vice versa. “Peter” comes, therefore, from petra, just as “Christian” comes from Christ.

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Apostles’ Fast 2013

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Recently on the Sunday of All Saints (26 May 2013) –the Byzantine Church observes a different feast of All Saints than do the Latin Christians– the Eparch (the Greek word for bishop) of the Melkites in the in the USA, Bishop Nicholas James Samra wrote to his people about preparing for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29. Yes, some Catholics do make preparations for other feasts!

One of the reasons I am drawing our attention to this matter is two-fold: 1.) being Catholic is more than merely following the Latin Church’s disciple — we can learn from others; and 2.) the discipline of those who belong to Christ is more than merely praying, fasting, and almsgiving for selfish reasons, that is, these spiritual activities are to break open our spiritual capacities. Remember what John Paul taught: Christians breathe with two lungs.

The liturgical feast of Ss. Peter and Paul is traditionally preceded by a period of concerted prayer and fasting. These saints –indeed, all of the apostles– are the pillars of our Church. In times past the period of fasting was significant while today it is much modified. The controlling idea is that before an important feast of the Lord, the Mother of God and some saints, the faithful are encouraged to prepare themselves to receive God’s graces in a worthy manner. We prepare by getting rid of sin and living virtuously: corporal and spiritual works of mercy are good things to do.

Bishop Nicholas recalls for us that the Monday after Sunday of All Saints the Byzantine Church begins a time of prayer and fasting leading us to the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on 29 June.  But now the preparation is modified to 10 days by the Melkite Synod of Bishops. Fittingly, the bishop notes: “We are given this “Apostles Fast” in order to fan into flame the grace of the Holy Spirit within us and to reflect upon the hardships endured by the Apostles as they preached Divine grace and truth to the world.”

Faith needs to be connected with reality. This is the context in which God acts. Several things in our own lives can and ought to be connected with life. Bishop Nicholas indicates that one good way to extrovert our faith by having some sense human ecology on the spiritual level is remember those suffering the effects of the war in Syria. Certainly, we pray for all but special attention to be paid to the Catholics and Orthodox peoples.

Hence, the proposal is to begin our spiritual discipline on June 19. I recommend that you make a confession of sin and receive Holy Communion, pray for the Pope’s intention for June, and name the intentions. Select a charitable organization to to make a donation of funds.

Perhaps we can also use the Apostles’ Fast to pray for those living with cancer. I am thinking of my friend Jesuit Father Edward Oakes who is in need of a miracle due to his recent diagnosis of Type 4 pancreatic and liver cancer.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

To the roots of communion

You can count on a delegation from the Ancient See of Constantinople visiting Rome and the Holy Father on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Most years a small of group of bishops and archimandrites designated by the Ecumenical Patriarch descend on Rome to pray at the Tombs of Peter and Paul, to attend the Mass with the Pope and those receiving the pallium and to exchange ideas with the Pope. Lunch in the Apostolic Palace is regular. In an editorial by L’Osservatore Romano,  Pope Benedict talks more openly about the goal of these ecumenical exchanges. Eucharistic sharing is still impossible, but the hope and identifiable goal is that one day –and one hopes it happens in the next 50 years– that we can be in full visible communion. The editorial is below with my emphasis.


The Second Vatican Council, the 50th anniversary of whose opening is to be celebrated next 11 October, has marked “a new and important phase in relations” between Catholics and Orthodox. In recognizing this the Pope expressed the hope that “progress may also be made in the current phase“, while waiting “to arrive soon at the blessed day when we will be able to share in the Eucharistic banquet“.

The traditional meeting with the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, received in audience on Thursday morning, 28 June, on the eve of the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, was an opportunity for Benedict XVI to recall the importance of the Council in the development of ecumenical dialogue. It was also an opportunity to remember, in particular, the “passion for the unity of the Church” which inspired the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and the Pontiffs, John XIII and Paul VI, who “made themselves champions of courageous projects that paved the way to renewed relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Catholic Church”.

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Saints Peter and Paul

These are the ones who, living in the flesh, planted the Church with their blood; they drank the chalice of the Lord and became the friends of God.

O God, who on the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul give us the noble and joy of this day, grant we pray, that your Church may in all things follow the teaching of those through whom she received the beginnings of right religion.

The antiphon and Collect set the tone by noting our belief: the Church is built on the life, work and sacrifice of two men in collaboration with Christ. It is, as Benedict says,  truth is one and symphonic (an idea taken from von Balthasar). How do we live this reality?

Today’s solemnity brings with it a wonderful remembrance of how God uses unsuspecting people to witness to his truth and power. The Pope has “traditionally” bestowed the pallium on the new archbishops as a sign of communion with him in serving the Church and a share in the Cross. North America has several new metropolitan archbishops who went to Rome to pray at the tombs of these Apostles and to receive from the Holy Father this beautiful symbol of office.

Two paragraphs below are taken from the Holy Father’s homily, but the entire text may be read here:

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In front of Saint Peter’s Basilica, as is well known,
there are two imposing statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, easily
recognizable by their respective attributes: the keys in the hand of Peter and
the sword held by Paul. Likewise, at the main entrance to the Basilica of Saint
Paul Outside the Walls, there are depictions of scenes from the life and the
martyrdom of these two pillars of the Church. Christian tradition has always
considered Saint Peter and Saint Paul to be inseparable
: indeed, together, they
represent the whole Gospel of Christ
. In Rome, their bond as brothers in the
faith came to acquire a particular significance. Indeed, the Christian
community of this City considered them a kind of counterbalance to the mythical
Romulus and Remus, the two brothers held to be the founders of Rome. A further
comes to mind, still on the theme of brothers: whereas the first
biblical pair of brothers demonstrate the effects of sin, as Cain kills Abel,
yet Peter and Paul, much as they differ from one another in human terms and
notwithstanding the conflicts that arose in their relationship, illustrate a
new way of being brothers, lived according to the Gospel, an authentic way made
possible by the grace of Christ’s Gospel working within them
. Only by following
does one arrive at this new brotherhood: this is the first and
fundamental message that today’s solemnity presents to each one of us, the
importance of which is mirrored in the pursuit of full communion, so earnestly
desired by the ecumenical Patriarch and the Bishop of Rome, as indeed by all

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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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