SS. Peter and Paul
‘I think of thee, Peter, and I stand amazed: and as I bring thee, Paul, before my mind, I am lost in thought and give way to my tears.’—St. Chrysostom.
St. Peter was a poor fisherman called by Jesus Christ to be, under Himself, the head of the Church militant. In conformity with the dignity conferred on him by our Divine Saviour, the Fathers of the Church in all ages have called him in their writings Prince of the Apostles, Supreme teacher of the Church, and the pastor entrusted with the charge of the whole flock.rs, he removed his S
After governing the Church from Antioch for some years, he removed his See to Rome, being the capital of the Empire, which then practically was the world. After twenty-five years’ apostolic labour, he was arrested and crucified. Deeming himself unworthy to suffer in the same posture as his Divine Master, he requested that he might suffer head downwards, and it was granted.
St. Peter having fixed his See in Rome, and having gloriously died for the faith there, the Church of Rome was established the mother of all others, and chief guardian of the Divine truths. All are obliged to hold communion with her, and to render sincere obedience to the successor of St. Peter.
From the example of this glorious Saint we can learn a great spirit of faith, humility, and penance, confidence in Divine mercy, and mistrust of self.
‘But gracious God! How well dost Thou provide For erring judgments an unerring guide. Thy throne is darkness in the abyss of light, A blaze of glory that forbids the sight: O teach me to believe Thee, thus concealed, And search no farther than Thyself revealed, But Her alone for my director take, Whom Thou hast promised never to forsake.’
St. Paul was a learned Pharisee who, from a persecutor of the infant Church, was miraculously changed by Jesus Christ into a glorious Apostle, and appointed to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. ‘And Saul, as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues; that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew near to Damascus; and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him: And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute Me? And he said: Who art Thou, Lord? And He: I am Jesus, Whom thou dost persecute: it is hard for Thee to kick against the goad. And he, trembling and astonished, said: Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do. Now the men who went in company with him stood amazed, hearing indeed a voice but seeing no one. And Saul arose from the ground; and his eyes being open, he saw nothing: but they, leading him by the hands, brought him into Damascus. And he was there three days without sight, and he neither ate nor drank. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, by name Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision: Ananias. And he said: Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the street that is called Straight; and seek in the house of Judas one named Saul of Tarsus; for, behold, he prayeth. But Ananias answered: Lord, I have heard from many of this man, how great evils he hath done to Thy saints in Jerusalem: And here he hath authority form the chief priests to bind all that invoke Thy name. And the Lord said to him: Go; for this man is a vessel of election to Me, to carry My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how great things he must suffer for the sake of My name. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and laying his hand on him, he said: Saul, brother, the Lord Jesus hath sent me, He who appeared to thee in the way as thou camest, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately he preached Jesus in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God’ (Acts ix. 1-20)
After extraordinary labours and sufferings, he was beheaded at Rome, leaving us an example of unlimited, compassionate, and disinterested charity for all, and an ardent zeal for the salvation and sanctification of souls.
We can admire the wonderful ways of our Lord, and excite a great confidence in His mercy, seeing that He made choice of the one who denied Him and the one who persecuted Him to the main pillars of His Church.
On this day we ought to pray fervently for the Pope and the entire Church, and for the grace of conversion for those nations who are yet separated from the Chair of St. Peter by the darkness of paganism, schism, or heresy.
‘Divine religion, though the powers of earth Combined with hell to crush thee in thy birth; Though streamed in every clime thy martyrs’ blood, Against thy law though error boldly stood, Disturbed thy peace, and rent thy seamless vest, And aimed the dagger at thine holy breast, Thou still dost triumph; still thy sacred bark, While all around is ruin, like the ark, Magnificently rising with the surge, Shall live triumphant o’er the general scourge.’
Example- St. Flavius
In the reign of the Emperor Domitian there was in Rome a Christian named Flavius Clemens, illustrious by rank and fortune. He held the office of Consul, and was a near relative of the Emperor. When, some years before, in the time of Nero, the Apostles Peter and Paul preached in Rome, Flavius, having heard them, was struck with the sanctity of their lives and the sublimity of their doctrine. As he was a man of upright mind and heart, he wished to get a full account of Christian teaching, and so had several interviews with St. Paul. The light of the true faith illuminated his mind, and he asked to be baptized. ‘What would you do,’ said St. Paul to him, ‘if Nero demanded your return to the worship of the gods of the Empire?’ ‘When one has recognized Jesus Christ as the true Son of God,’ replied Flavius, ‘it is no longer possible to return to idols. Sooner than deny Him, I would sacrifice everything most dear to me.’ Later on, in persecution of Domitian, this great man was condemned to death. The announcement was a shock to Rome. It was a thing unheard of that a Senator should die in the cause of Religion. When Flavius entered the amphitheatre clothed in his toga, not a single cry was heard. All looked with respectful silence on the venerable man, who approached death with a serene countenance. He knelt down, raised his eyes to Heaven, and received the fatal blow. A subdued murmur passed through the throng of spectators. ‘Surely,’ said they, ‘the God for Whom one dies thus must be the true God.’
Catholic Life or Feasts, Fasts, and Devotions of the Ecclesiastical Year Imprimatur 1908