Saints Peter and Paul
Saturday, 27 June 2020
June 29th is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul – the two apostles and leaders of the early Church. Their witness of preaching and teaching culminated in the shedding of their blood – Peter by being crucified upside down and Paul by being beheaded.
Earlier this year, I visited the tombs of Peter and Paul in Rome. Peter was buried on the Vatican Hill in a cemetery right next to Nero’s Circus where he was martyred. That simple grave is now directly beneath the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Paul was beheaded at what is now the Monastery of Tre Fontana and is buried now at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
Visiting these tombs and the tomb of St. James the Less while I was on my pilgrimage, I couldn’t help but think of the tremendous faith these men had in the face of fear and persecution. These men were being hunted as blasphemers and heretics by the Jews and for causing civil disturbances and spreading false religion by the Romans. The early Christian communities lived in fear of death.
Yet, their fear was conquered by faith! They knew that even if they were put to death, even if they died from a natural cause, that it wasn’t the end! There was life after death because of the Resurrection of Jesus! They believed that life did not end at the grave no matter what put them in it! We profess the same thing today in our faith! We speak it with our mouths when we say the Nicene Creed on Sunday. We have hope and faith in the midst of despair and fear.
Today, despair and fear are all around us. We are hemmed in on all sides. We, my brothers and sisters, must rise above that fear! We cannot let our lives be dominated by fear! The Christian person does not fear that which can kill the body. The Christian is concerned with that which can kill the soul. Peter and Paul knew this. Agnes and Cecilia knew this. We are a people of hope, of life, and of faith.
St. Peter and St. Paul, help us live lives of faith in the midst of fear!
Happy Independence Day!
On Saturday, we will celebrate Independence Day! The founders of these United States of America looked tyranny in the face and threw it off. These flawed men saw a country that could be unified under one vision – freedom based in Divine and Natural Law and in just man-made laws. The inalienable rights given to us by our Creator must be lived and would need to be defended. Our country and its people have never done this perfectly or even saintly in any part of our history. Our history is like the history of any human person with virtues and sins mixed together at every moment of its history. Yet, this is a nation and a vision that is worth celebrating because of its ideals and because it is ours! May we take good care of it and hand it on to the next generation in better condition. May God bless the United States of America.
May the Lord Jesus bless you and your families abundantly this week and keep you safe!
~ Fr. Daniel F. Firmin