Saints: June 2012 Archives

Saints Peter and Paul

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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 parallel 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 Jesus 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 Christians.

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons

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Irenaeus of Lyons.jpgO God, who called the Bishop Saint Irenaeus to confirm true doctrine and the peace of the Church, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, being renewed in faith and charity, we may always be intent on fostering unity and concord.

A fascinating thing is to chart the influence of one on another. To whom do you owe a deep sense of gratitude for showing you the way to follow? With Irenaeus, his beloved master was Saint Polycarp (d. 155), from whom he learned about Christ, himself the disciple of Saint John the Apostle. From here we set out to revere the person of a martyr who met his end in AD 202 after serving the Lord and the Church for nearly 80 years. 

Irenaeus is honored by the Catholic Church as a Doctor of the Church from the Apostolic age. Being a doctor of the Church is given to few (most recently the Doctor's honor was given to Saint Hildegard) because of his learning and publications, but much has been lost. What remains are significant fragments of the original text. His works are mainly in Greek, a few in Armenian but there are several texts that were given to us in Latin; He's likely to be most known for his famous Adversus Haereses (Against the Heresies), in which he gives reasons for his hope, that is, an explanation of the Faith. This text is renown because he combated gnosticism, that is, false knowledge. Only truth triumphs.

In the field Scripture and dogma studies Saint Irenaeus indicated that an orthodox Christian uses the canon sacred Scripture in the explanation of the faith. He asserted the rightful use of the four gospels and not merely one as was popular at that time. You may recall that Irenaeus contradicted the heretic Marcion with the doctrine of canonocity of scripture, apostolic authority, and began to develop a theology of Mary viz. salvation history and the Incarnation. A significant and lasting contribution the Saint made to Christian life is the dating of Easter: the Latin Church celebrated the Lord's resurrection on adhering to what Saint Peter did; the Eastern Church celebrated the feast with respect to Passover. Both traditions are respected today, even if a little more nuanced.

That said, Irenaeus' preaching was brilliant which contributed to conversion to Christ almost the all of France to the Faith. One writer speaks of the Christians of Lyons as models in Christian living because of their candor, rejection of ambition, poverty, chastity and temperance.
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Don't let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love...Don't flutter around like a hen, when you can soar to the heights of an eagle! 

Saint Josemaría Escrivá

The Way

More info on the life and works of Saint Josemaría Escrivá can be found here.

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O God, who raised up Saint John the Baptist to make ready a nation fit for Christ the Lord, give your people, we pray, the grace of spiritual joys and direct the hearts of all the faithful into the way of salvation and peace.

The key to understanding today's feast (on a Sunday no less) is the place John the Baptist has in the economy of salvation: making a nation fit for Christ the Lord. Not only was the Baptist a cousin of Jesus', he opened the doors of salvation by introducing us to His Lord and ours. His encounter with the Messiah is also ours; his dependence on God for everything is also ours. The challenge for us, therefore, is to live as the Baptist lived --with total, unreserved dependence upon God. In Catholic theology and the history of salvation, the Baptist is second only to Mary, the Mother of God in unlocking the door of salvation: Jesus Christ.

The Church celebrates as a feast day few birthdays. They are: the Nativity of Mary, the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, and of course the Nativity of the Lord. Note, too, that we celebrate each of these peoples entrances into heaven.
TMore.jpgO God, who in martyrdom have brought true faith to its highest expression, graciously grant that, strengthened through the intercession of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, we may confirm by the witness of our life the faith we profess with our lips.

The feast of Saint Thomas More and John Fisher gains more popularity today than it would otherwise with the Fortnight for Freedom being observed here in the USA. The US Bishops have proposed these two English saints --men who faced the persecution of a government over matters of conscience and liberty-- to help us focus our prayer and advocacy aright. The Mass prayer is really insightful.

st john fisher detail.jpegThe events of today require us to seek divine assistance. Actually the events of every day require us to seek divine assistance. 

Here's a prayer of Saint Thomas More

Give me the grace good Lord, to set the world at naught; to set my mind fast upon Thee and not to hang upon the blast of men's mouths. Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help, to lean unto the comfort of God, busily to labor to love Him. Gladly to bear my purgatory here, to be joyful of tribulations, to walk the narrow way that leadeth to life.

Saint Norbert

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St Norbert with the Eucharist.jpgSaint Norbert is often overlooked in this country, perhaps because he lived so long ago that he hardly matters today, or because meeting his spiritual sons and daughters is a rarity unless you live in Paoli, PA, DePere, WI or Silverado, CA (or a handful of other places places) where you might encounter the Canon Regular, aka Norbertines. BUT I would submit that Saint Norbert cannot be dismissed because he lived in the 11th nor because you have neither met the Canons nor the Canoness.

Saint Norbert is a saint of the Eucharist. AND that ought to be enough of an enticement to know Norbert.

Today's first reading from the First Letter of Peter offers an exhortation to his hearers who are facing difficult times: be eager to stand firm. As the people who heard Peter so we too, today, need to remember that the Lord has an infinite amount of patience; in fact He never tires, but His adopted children need to recall that only He's the matrix of the covenant's fulfillment. God is present, stand firm.


Saint Boniface, the Englishman monk who became the Apostle to Germany, whose memory we commemorate today, also exhorted those of his time to stand firm because God is present. In the Office of Readings this morning I reacquainted myself with a rather curious set of images that Boniface delivered to the bishops of his time and place make connects very nicely with the Scriptures. Saint Boniface said, "Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ's flock. Let us preach the whole of God's plan to the powerful and to the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season, as Saint Gregory writes in his book of Pastoral Instruction."

Indeed, let the bark be heard.

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]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Saints category from June 2012.

Saints: May 2012 is the previous archive.

Saints: July 2012 is the next archive.

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