|Saints Peter and Paul|
by El Greco
The great Apostles, Peter and Paul, so different in temperament and mission, have been honored with a common feast (June 29) since the first half of the fourth century. Peter, the first among the Apostles, and Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, were martyred in Rome, probably around the year 67, during the persecution of the emperor Nero.
The Collect for the Mass for this Solemnity reminds us that it was first through the preaching of Peter and Paul, and indeed all the Apostles, that the Church first received the Faith. This Apostolic Faith is manifested in our day in the celebration of the Church's sacraments, in the communion of prayer and faith in charity, and in the ministry of the Pope and the other bishops.
Reflecting on the place that Peter and Paul hold within the life of the Church, Blessed John Paul II observed, "If the witness of faith and the arduous struggles which the Apostles Peter and Paul had to undertake for the cause of the Gospel are considered in merely human terms, they ended in defeat. In this too, they faithfully followed Christ's example. Indeed, humanly speaking the mission of Christ, who was condemned to death and crucified, ended in defeat.
However, both the Apostles, with their gaze fixed on the Paschal Mystery, did not doubt that precisely what to the eyes of the world seemed a defeat, was in fact the beginning of the fulfillment of God's plan. It was the victory over the forces of evil won first by Christ and then by His disciples through faith. The entire community of the apostolic faith and gives thanks to Christ for the solid rock on which its life and mission are built" (Homily for June 29, 1997).
Collect for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul +
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.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Adapted from my book, From Season to Season: A Book of Saintly Wisdom