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Friday, June 29, 2012

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : FRIDAY JUNE 29, 2012


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VATICAN : POPE : POWER OF THE KEYS - FULL TEXT HOMILY
AFRICA : NIGERIA : 30 DAYS OF PRAYER FOR PEACE
AUSTRALIA : WORLD'S MOST GENEROUS TO POOR
AMERICA : CANADA RIP FR. JEAN-BERNARD ALLARD
EUROPE : AUSTRIA CARDINAL SCHONBORN WARNS PRIESTS
ASIA : SYRIA : MOVEMENT FOR PEACE - RECONCILIATION - MUSSALAHA
TODAY'S SAINT : JUNE 29 : ST. PAUL APOSTLE
TODAY'S SAINT : JUNE 29 : ST. PETER 1ST POPE
TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : FRIDAY JUNE 29, 2012
VATICAN : POPE : POWER OF THE KEYS - FULL TEXT HOMILY
Vatican Radio REPORT/IMAGE: "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 according to Pope Benedict XVI is the fundamental message of the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul.The Pope’s focus on communion and brotherhood took on particular emphasis this year, given the presence of a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Westminster Abbey schola cantorum. Their plain chants – together with the Sistine Chapel choir – enriched the liturgy which took place within the cool marble vaults of St Peter’s basilica. A liturgy which also saw the Pope bestow the pallium upon 40 Metropolitan Archbishops.

In his homily the Holy Father drew attention to the two giant statues of Peter and Paul that hold vigil over St Peter’s square. He said : "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”.

“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. "

Drawing from the Gospel of the day (Matthew 16: 13-19), Pope Benedict went on to reflect on the drama of Peter (and the papacy) " the acknowledgment of Jesus’ identity” not “through flesh and blood”, that is, through his human capacities, but through a particular revelation from God the Father".

Pope Benedict said :"Here we see the tension that exists between the gift that comes from the Lord and human capacities; and in this scene between Jesus and Simon Peter we see anticipated in some sense the drama of the history of the papacy itself, characterized by the joint presence of these two elements: on the one hand, because of the light and the strength that come from on high, the papacy constitutes the foundation of the Church during its pilgrimage through history; on the other hand, across the centuries, human weakness is also evident, which can only be transformed through openness to God’s action."

Finally, Pope Benedict spoke of "power of the keys" – symbol of the Petrine Ministry a key issue in the current phase of ecumenical dialogue - to "bind and loose": "The two images – that of the keys and that of binding and loosing – express similar meanings which reinforce one another. The expression “binding and loosing” forms part of rabbinical language and refers on the one hand to doctrinal decisions, and on the other hand to disciplinary power, that is, the faculty to impose and to lift excommunication. The parallelism “on earth ... in the heavens” guarantees that Peter’s decisions in the exercise of this ecclesial function are valid in the eyes of God".
Below is the official English tranlation of the Holy Father's Homily during Mass on the Feast of Saint's Peter and Paul. During the celebration the Pope conferred the Pallium on new Metropolitan Archbishops.
Homily on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
Saint Peter’s Basilica, 29 June 2012
Your Eminences,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are gathered around the altar for our solemn celebration of Saints Peter and Paul, the principal Patrons of the Church of Rome. Present with us today are the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed during the past year, who have just received the Pallium, and to them I extend a particular and affectionate greeting. Also present is an eminent Delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, sent by His Holiness Bartholomaios I, and I welcome them with fraternal and heartfelt gratitude. In an ecumenical spirit, I am also pleased to greet and to thank the Choir of Westminster Abbey, who are providing the music for this liturgy alongside the Cappella Sistina. I also greet the Ambassadors and civil Authorities present. I am grateful to all of you for your presence and your prayers.
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.

In the passage from Saint Matthew’s Gospel that we have just heard, Peter makes his own confession of faith in Jesus, acknowledging him as Messiah and Son of God. He does so in the name of the other Apostles too. In reply, the Lord reveals to him the mission that he intends to assign to him, that of being the “rock”, the visible foundation on which the entire spiritual edifice of the Church is built (cf. Mt 16:16-19). But in what sense is Peter the rock? How is he to exercise this prerogative, which naturally he did not receive for his own sake? The account given by the evangelist Matthew tells us first of all that the acknowledgment of Jesus’ identity made by Simon in the name of the Twelve did not come “through flesh and blood”, that is, through his human capacities, but through a particular revelation from God the Father. By contrast, immediately afterwards, as Jesus foretells his passion, death and resurrection, Simon Peter reacts on the basis of “flesh and blood”: he “began to rebuke him, saying, this shall never happen to you” (16:22). And Jesus in turn replied: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me ...” (16:23). The disciple who, through God’s gift, was able to become a solid rock, here shows himself for what he is in his human weakness: a stone along the path, a stone on which men can stumble – in Greek, skandalon. Here we see the tension that exists between the gift that comes from the Lord and human capacities; and in this scene between Jesus and Simon Peter we see anticipated in some sense the drama of the history of the papacy itself, characterized by the joint presence of these two elements: on the one hand, because of the light and the strength that come from on high, the papacy constitutes the foundation of the Church during its pilgrimage through history; on the other hand, across the centuries, human weakness is also evident, which can only be transformed through openness to God’s action.

And in today’s Gospel there emerges powerfully the clear promise made by Jesus: “the gates of the underworld”, that is, the forces of evil, will not prevail, “non praevalebunt”. One is reminded of the account of the call of the prophet Jeremiah, to whom the Lord said, when entrusting him with his mission: “Behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you!” (Jer 1:18-19). In truth, the promise that Jesus makes to Peter is even greater than those made to the prophets of old: they, indeed, were threatened only by human enemies, whereas Peter will have to be defended from the “gates of the underworld”, from the destructive power of evil. Jeremiah receives a promise that affects him as a person and his prophetic ministry; Peter receives assurances concerning the future of the Church, the new community founded by Jesus Christ, which extends to all of history, far beyond the personal existence of Peter himself.
Let us move on now to the symbol of the keys, which we heard about in the Gospel. It echoes the oracle of the prophet Isaiah concerning the steward Eliakim, of whom it was said: “And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open” (Is 22:22). The key represents authority over the house of David. And in the Gospel there is another saying of Jesus addressed to the scribes and the Pharisees, whom the Lord reproaches for shutting off the kingdom of heaven from people (cf. Mt 23:13). This saying also helps us to understand the promise made to Peter: to him, inasmuch as he is the faithful steward of Christ’s message, it belongs to open the gate of the Kingdom of Heaven, and to judge whether to admit or to refuse (cf. Rev 3:7). Hence the two images – that of the keys and that of binding and loosing – express similar meanings which reinforce one another. The expression “binding and loosing” forms part of rabbinical language and refers on the one hand to doctrinal decisions, and on the other hand to disciplinary power, that is, the faculty to impose and to lift excommunication. The parallelism “on earth ... in the heavens” guarantees that Peter’s decisions in the exercise of this ecclesial function are valid in the eyes of God.

In Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel, dedicated to the life of the ecclesial community, we find another saying of Jesus addressed to the disciples: “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 18:18). Saint John, in his account of the appearance of the risen Christ in the midst of the Apostles on Easter evening, recounts these words of the Lord: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven: if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:22-23). In the light of these parallels, it appears clearly that the authority of loosing and binding consists in the power to remit sins. And this grace, which defuses the powers of chaos and evil, is at the heart of the Church’s ministry. The Church is not a community of the perfect, but a community of sinners, obliged to recognize their need for God’s love, their need to be purified through the Cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ sayings concerning the authority of Peter and the Apostles make it clear that God’s power is love, the love that shines forth from Calvary. Hence we can also understand why, in the Gospel account, Peter’s confession of faith is immediately followed by the first prediction of the Passion: through his death, Jesus conquered the powers of the underworld, with his blood he poured out over the world an immense flood of mercy, which cleanses the whole of humanity in its healing waters.

Dear brothers and sisters, as I mentioned at the beginning, the iconographic tradition represents Saint Paul with a sword, and we know that this was the instrument with which he was killed. Yet as we read the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles, we discover that the image of the sword refers to his entire mission of evangelization. For example, when he felt death approaching, he wrote to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim 4:7). This was certainly not the battle of a military commander but that of a herald of the Word of God, faithful to Christ and to his Church, to which he gave himself completely. And that is why the Lord gave him the crown of glory and placed him, together with Peter, as a pillar in the spiritual edifice of the Church.

Dear Metropolitan Archbishops, the Pallium that I have conferred on you will always remind you that you have been constituted in and for the great mystery of communion that is the Church, the spiritual edifice built upon Christ as the cornerstone, while in its earthly and historical dimension, it is built on the rock of Peter. Inspired by this conviction, we know that together we are all cooperators of the truth, which as we know is one and “symphonic”, and requires from each of us and from our communities a constant commitment to conversion to the one Lord in the grace of the one Spirit. May the Holy Mother of God guide and accompany us always along the path of faith and charity. Queen of Apostles, pray for us!
Amen.

AFRICA : NIGERIA : 30 DAYS OF PRAYER FOR PEACE

CISA REPORT:
Nigeria-Kaduna-AP-620x425
ABUJA, June 26, 2012 (CISA) – Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has launched 30 days of prayer for Nigeria in response to calls for prayer from Nigerian Christians.
The Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice, urged Christians around the world to also show their support.
This comes in the wake of terrorist threats from the insurgent group Boko Haram that claims to have around 300 suicide bombers ready to attack churches and plans to make June “the bloodiest month yet,” according to media reports.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) vehemently criticized the attacks and counter attacks saying, “…We feel greatly pained by the violent events which have become almost daily occurrences.
Time is rolling on and the situation of insecurity in the land has not improved in any significant way…”
The bishops expressed concern in a statement sent to CISA on “the security situation in the country” adding that the situation seems to be going from bad to worse, as terrorists strike almost at will against innocent citizens all across the northern parts of Nigeria.
The Nigerian bishops called on the government to devise new security measures to ensure safety for all. “It is a primary duty of government to ensure security of life and property of citizens all over the nation. There can be no excuse for failure in this primary duty,” they said.
“Despite all the current efforts by government, the nation is still under insecurity,” said the bishops. They challenged the government to intensify security actions to make the nation safe for all.
They also called on Christians to continue praying fervently for God’s protection, while promising to continue mobilizing and deploying Church security arrangements within the ambit of the law, and in collaboration with the state agencies.
The bishops called on all Nigerians to join hands in combating this common danger. “We call especially on the Muslim community in Nigeria to do all in its power to reach out to those who foment, plan, encourage and carry out these acts of violence in the name of Islam,” said the bishops
SHARED FROM CISA NEWS

AUSTRALIA : WORLD'S MOST GENEROUS TO POOR

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
29 Jun 2012


An impoverished Bolivian village where Caritas
is making a difference
Australia continues to be among the world's most generous. The Government may have decided to trim the amount the nation spends on Foreign Aid in a bid to deliver a surplus, but not every day Australians.
For the first time ever Caritas, the international aid and development arm of the Catholic Church has raised $10 million for Project Compassion 2012.
"This really is remarkable," says Caritas Australia's CEO, Jack de Groot. "Even though times have been tough and uncertain for many Australians over the past 12 months, our parishes, schools and Church communities have given generously help support the world's poor."
Last year Project Compassion, Caritas' annual Lenten fund-raiser, topped $9.7 million, an increase of more than $300,000 on the previous year's total.
But this year's total eclipsed even those.
Millions live in poverty and
desperately need our help
"The amount donated this year is unprecedented and will ensure thousands of families in the world's most impoverished communities are guaranteed life-saving support," says Mr de Groot and admits that he and others at Caritas have been "humbled" by Australians' big hearted generosity.

"I am reluctant to reduce what the people of Australia's Catholic community have done to simple dollars and cents because it is so much more that."
Each year during Lent communities, schools and parishes hold cake stalls, raffles, put on plays and come up with novel ideas of ways to earn money for Caritas' Project Compassion fundraiser.
Now in its 47th year, Project Compassion is also supported by corporations, organisations and individuals from all walks of life who find friends, family and colleagues to sponsor them on walks, runs or cycle events to raise funds the world's poor.
All monies raised from this year's Project Compassion will go to support communities in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America as well as Australia's remote Indigenous communities in northern Australia.

Fish Friday 2012 raised more than $3000 for
Project Compassion
The world's largest aid agency after Red Cross, Caritas Australia and Caritas agencies globally provide ongoing help and assistance to impoverished communities. Through education and improved agriculture, hygiene, medical care, accessible fresh water and schools, teams from Caritas help communities break the cycle of poverty and become self-sufficient.
"Caritas is about helping people help themselves. It is also about delivering justice and peace which in turn leads to stability and security," Mr de Groot explains.
In addition to the ongoing work of Caritas in more than 220 countries across the world, emergency relief is also an important part of the agency's work. When natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods or famine wreak havoc on populations around the world, Caritas instantly responds, flying in teams to help victims as well as provide them with shelter, tents, food, potable water and medical care.

Caritas is educating farmers in drought
resistant crops and livestock retention
In the past year Caritas has been at the forefront of emergencies ranging from South East Asia's devastating floods to Japan's tsunami and the ongoing famines in West Africa as well as across the Horn of Africa.
Although Project Compassion officially ends with Easter, donations which are fully tax deductible continue to be received with the fund remaining open until tomorrow, 30 June which marks the end of the 2011-12 financial year.
To find out more about the work of Caritas and Project Compassion log on to www.caritas.org.au
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY

AMERICA : CANADA RIP FR. JEAN-BERNARD ALLARD

CCCB REPORT:
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Jean-Bernard_Allard_PSSThe Reverend Jean-Bernard Allard, P.S.S., former director of the French Sector National Liturgy Office of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), died this past June 22 at the age of 83. His funeral is on June 30 at 10:30 a.m., in the Chapelle du Sacré-Coeur of Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal, followed by burial in the crypt of the Grand Séminaire of Montreal. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Montreal on September 21, 1957, and became member of the Sulpician Fathers in 1969. Father Allard joined the French Sector National Liturgy Office in 1976 as assistant director, and become director in May 1977. He continued as its director until the summer of 1987.

EUROPE : AUSTRIA CARDINAL SCHONBORN WARNS PRIESTS

UCAN REPORT:
After talks with the Priests' Initiative, a group which has vowed disobedience against the Church, Cardinal Schoenborn has decided it is time to crack down.
Michael Shields
Austria
June 28, 2012
Catholic Church News Image of Austrian cardinal hands ultimatum to disobedient priests
Austria’s Roman Catholic Church has laid down the law to its rebel priests by telling them they could not support a reform manifesto criticized by Pope Benedict and stay in an administrative post.
One priest told Reuters he had already stepped down from the post of deacon rather than renounce the “Call to Disobedience” manifesto that challenges Church teaching on taboo topics such as women’s ordination and offering communion to non-Catholics.
Another priest had withdrawn his support for the reform campaign and kept his job, a Church spokesman said on Wednesday.
He added that two or three more have yet to decide whether to withdraw their support from the manifesto from a reform group called “Priests’ Initiative” whose demands have been echoed by some Catholic groups and clerics in Germany, Ireland, Belgium and the United States.
“You can easily remain a member of the Priests’ Initiative. You must only distance yourself from the ‘Call to Disobedience’ in an appropriate way,” Church spokesman Nikolaus Haselsteiner said.
“In an average company, a department head can’t say he doesn’t care what the CEO says,” he added.
The Vienna archdiocese said on Tuesday its head, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, had told priests last month he would not appoint manifesto supporters to the post of dean and those coming up for renewal in the post would have to choose.
Schoenborn, a close ally of Benedict, has met the rebel priests, including their leader Rev Helmut Schueller. But Tuesday’s announcement was the first sign he had taken steps to rein them in.
Schueller says his group represents 10 percent of the Austrian clergy. The group has won broad public backing in opinion polls for its pledge to break Church rules by giving communion to Protestants and divorced Catholics who remarry.
Rev Peter Meidinger, who was dean in a district of Vienna archdiocese, said he stepped down from that post after Schoenborn made his options clear in a recent conversation.
“I spoke to the archbishop and perhaps you cannot say I had to choose, but I had the impression that there was no way out for me so I am stepping down and freeing up the spot,” he told Reuters on Wednesday.
SHARED FROM UCAN NEWS

ASIA : SYRIA : MOVEMENT FOR PEACE - RECONCILIATION - MUSSALAHA

Agenzia Fides report - New meetings and new initiatives for the inter-religious popular movement "Mussalaha" ("Reconciliation"), which proposes a "reconciliation from below" starting from families, clans, the different communities of Syrian civil society, tired of the conflict. While the country is torn by conflict, peace initiatives and meetings are multiplying, being born in an entirely spontaneous and independent manner: in past days a new meeting which involved civic leaders, religious leaders, moderates, Christians and Muslims, tribal leaders, Sunnis and Alawites citizens of the mosaic that makes up the Syrian society, was held in Deir Ezzor, in the province of Djazirah (eastern Syria), near the Euphrates. The movement, note sources of Fides, intends to say "No" to Civil War and notes that "we cannot continue with a toll that totals between 40 and 100 victims a day. The nation is bled white, it loses youth and its best forces." For this reason a new initiative that comes from the "genius of the people" from people "who want a decent life, who reject sectarian violence and sectarian denominational strife, as preconceived ideological and political opposition are urgently required." In many Syrian cities, where on one side there are clashes and victims - refer sources of Fides - " gestures of friendship and reconciliation grow, offered by civilian moderate leaders to community representatives considered hostile (this happens between Alawites and Sunnis), in the spirit to ensure security and peace through civil society." The movement hopes to find an institutional reference in the Minister for Reconciliation, the Socialist Ali Haider, who was appointed the new Syrian Executive and from the opposition party "People's Will Party."
But meanwhile, it is finding support abroad: the Irish Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 with Betty Williams and leader of the movement "The Peace People", in a statement sent to Fides said "No to war in Syria" , and says: "We must put ourselves in the shoes of the Syrian people and find peaceful ways to stop this mad rush toward a war that mothers, fathers and sons of Syria do not want and do not deserve." The text adds: "We urgently need to support those working for peace in Syria and are looking for a way to help the 22 million Syrians to resolve their conflict, without promoting violence or chaos." The Nobel Prize invites the UN to "be a forum where these Syrian voices are heard" voices of "people who have worked hard for Syria, to the idea of Syria as a secular, peaceful and modern country." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/6/2012)

TODAY'S SAINT : JUNE 29 : ST. PAUL APOSTLE

St. Paul
APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES, MARTYR, MISSIONARY, MYSTIC, GREAT THEOLOGIAN
Feast: June 29


Information:
Feast Day: June 29
Died: 65 at Rome, Italy
Major Shrine: Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
Patron of: against snakes, authors, Catholic Action, Cursillo movement, evangelists, hailstorms, hospital public relations, journalists, lay people, missionary bishops, musicians, newspaper editorial staff, public relations work, publishers, reporters, rope makers, saddlemakers, tent makers, many more...
The historic records bearing on St. Paul are fuller than those for any Scriptural saint. We have Paul's own wonderful writings, the fourteen letters included in the New Testament, which outline his missionary journeys, exhort and admonish the various Christian congregations, discuss ethics and doctrinal matters; and in the midst of all this we get a revelation of the man himself, his inner character, his problems and fears. St. Luke's Acts of the Apostles and certain apocryphal books are other sources of our knowledge of St. Paul. Of all the founders of the Church, Paul was perhaps the most brilliant and many-sided, the broadest in outlook, and therefore the best endowed to carry Christianity to alien lands and peoples.
Born into a well-to-do Jewish family of Tarsus, the son of a Roman citizen, Saul (as we shall call him until after his conversion) was sent to Jerusalem to be trained in the famous rabbinical school headed by Gamaliel. Here, in addition to studying the Law and the Prophets, he learned a trade, as was the custom. Young Saul chose the trade of tent-making. Although his upbringing was orthodox, while still at home in Tarsus he had come under the liberalizing Hellenic influences which at this time had permeated all levels of urban society in Asia Minor. Thus the Judaic, Roman, and Greek traditions and cultures all had a part in shaping this great Apostle, who was so different in status and temperament from the humble fishermen of Jesus' initial band of disciples. His missionary journeys were to give him the flexibility and the deep sympathy that made him the ideal human instrument for preaching Christ's Gospel of world brotherhood.

In the year 35 Saul appears as a self-righteous young Pharisee, almost fanatically anti-Christian. He believed that the trouble-making new sect should be stamped out, its adherents punished. We are told in Acts vii that he was present, although not a participator in the stoning, when Stephen, the first martyr, met his death. It was very soon afterwards that Paul experienced the revelation which was to transform his life. On the road to the Syrian city of Damascus, where he was going to continue his persecutions against the Christians, he was struck blind. On arriving in Damascus, there followed in dramatic sequence his sudden conversion, the cure of his blindness by the disciple Ananias, and his baptism. Paul accepted eagerly the commission to preach the Gospel of Christ, but like many another called to a great task he felt his unworthiness and withdrew from the world to spend three years in "Arabia" in meditation and prayer before beginning his apostolate. From the moment of his return, Paul—for he had now assumed this Roman name—never paused in his labors. It proved to be the most extraordinary career of preaching, writing, and church-founding of which we have record. The extensive travels by land and sea, so replete with adventure, are to be traced by anyone who reads carefully the New Testament letters. We cannot be sure, however, that the letters and records now extant reveal the full and complete chronicle of Paul's activities. He himself tells us he was stoned, thrice scourged, thrice shipwrecked, endured hunger and thirst, sleepless nights, perils and hardships; besides these physical trials, he suffered many disappointments and almost constant anxieties over the weak and widely-scattered communities of Christians.

Paul began his preaching in Damascus. Here the anger of the orthodox Jews against this renegade was so great that he had to make his escape by having himself let down from the city wall in a basket. Going down to Jerusalem, he was there looked on with suspicion by the Jewish Christians, for they could not at first believe that he who had so lately been their persecutor had turned advocate. Back in his native city of Tarsus once more, he was joined by Barnabas, and together they journeyed to Syrian Antioch,[1] where they were so successful in finding followers that a church, later to become famous in the annals of early Christianity, was founded. It was here that the disciples of Jesus were first given the name of Christians (from the Greek , anointed). After again returning to Jerusalem to bring aid to members of the sect who were suffering from famine, these two missionaries went back to Antioch, then sailed to the island of Cyprus; while there they converted the Roman proconsul, Sergius Paulus. Once more on the mainland of Asia Minor, they crossed the Taurus Mountains and visited many towns of the interior, particularly those having Jewish settlements. It was Paul's general practice in such places first to visit the synagogues and preach to the Jews; if rejected by them, he would then preach to the Gentiles. At Antioch in Pisidia Paul delivered a memorable discourse to the Jews, concluding with these words (Acts xiii, 46-47): "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord commanded us, I have set thee for a light to the Gentiles, to be a means of salvation to the very ends of the earth." After this, the Jews drove Paul and Barnabas out from their midst, and a little later the missionaries were back in Jerusalem, where the elders were debating the attitude of the Christian Church, still predominantly Jewish in membership, towards Gentile converts. The question of circumcision proved troublesome, for most Jews thought it important that Gentiles should submit to this requirement of Jewish law; Paul's side, the more liberal, standing against circumcision, won out eventually.

The second missionary journey, which lasted from 49 to 52, took Paul and Silas, his new assistant, to Phrygia and Galatia, to Troas, and across to the mainland of Europe, to Philippi in Macedonia. The physician Luke was now a member of the party, and in the book of Acts he gives us the record. They made their way to Thessalonica, then down to Athens and Corinth. At Athens Paul preached in the Areopagus, and we know that some of the Stoics and Epicureans heard him and debated with him informally, attracted by his vigorous intellect, his magnetic personality, and the ethical teachings which, in many respects, were not unlike their own. Passing over to Corinth, he found himself in the very heart of the Graeco-Roman world, and his letters of this period show that he is aware of the great odds against him, of the ceaseless struggle to be waged in overcoming pagan skepticism and indifference. He nevertheless stayed at Corinth for eighteen months, and met with considerable success. Two valuable workers there, Aquila and Priscilla, husband and wife, returned with him to Asia. It was during his first winter at Corinth that Paul wrote the earliest extant missionary letters. They show his supreme concern for conduct and his belief in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which gives men power for good.

The third missionary journey covered the period of 52 to 56. At Ephesus, an important city of Lydia, where the cult of the Greek-Ionic goddess Diana was very popular, Paul raised a disturbance against the cult and the trade in silver images of the goddess which flourished there. Later, in Jerusalem, he caused a commotion by visiting the temple; he was arrested, roughly handled, and bound with chains; but when he was brought before the tribune, he defended himself in a way that impressed his captors. He was taken to Caesarea, for it was rumored that some Jews at Jerusalem, who falsely accused him of having admitted Gentiles to the temple, were plotting to kill him. He was kept in prison at Caesarea awaiting trial for about two years, under the proconsuls Felix and Festus. The Roman governors apparently wished to avoid trouble with both Jews and Christians and so postponed judgment from month to month. Paul at last appealed to the Emperor, demanding the legal right of a Roman citizen to have his case heard by Nero himself. He was placed in the custody of a centurion, who took him to Rome. The Acts of the Apostles leave him in the imperial city, awaiting his hearing.

It would appear that Paul's appeal was successful, for there is some evidence of another missionary journey, probably to Macedonia. On this last visit to the various Christian communities, it is believed that he appointed Titus bishop in Crete and Timothy at Ephesus. Returning to Rome, he was once more arrested, and after two years in chains suffered martyrdom, presumably at about the same time as the Apostle Peter, bishop of the Roman Church. Inscriptions of the second and third century in the catacombs give evidence of a cult of SS. Peter and Paul. This devotion has never diminished in popularity. In Christian art St. Paul is usually depicted as a bald man with a black beard, rather stocky, but vigorous and intense. His relics are venerated in the basilica of St. Paul and in the Lateran Church at Rome.

Because of the pressure of his work, Paul usually dictated his letters, writing the salutation in his own hand. The most quoted of New Testament writers, Paul has given us a wealth of counsel, aphorisms, and ethical teachings; he had the power of expressing spiritual truths in the simplest of words, and this, rather than the building up of a systematic theology, was his contribution to the early Church. A man of action, Paul reveals the dynamic of his whole career when he writes, "I press on towards the goal, to the prize of God's heavenly calling in Christ Jesus." Although he himself was forever pressing onwards, his letters often invoked a spirit of quiet meditation, as when he ends his epistle to the Philippians with the beautiful lines: "Whatever things are true, whatever honorable, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable, whatever of good repute, if there be any virtue, if anything worthy of praise, think upon these things."


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stpaul.asp#ixzz1zDj3pZoo

TODAY'S SAINT : JUNE 29 : ST. PETER 1ST POPE

St. Peter
FIRST POPE AND PRINCE OF THE APOSTLES
Feast: June 29


Information:
Feast Day: June 29
Died: 64, Rome, Italy
Major Shrine: St. Peter's Basilica
Patron of: against frenzy, bakers, bridge builders, butchers, clock makers, cobblers, feet problems, fever, fishermen, foot problems, harvesters, locksmiths, longevity, masons, net makers, papacy, ship builders, shoemakers, Universal Church, many more...
St. Peter is mentioned so often in the New Testament—in the Gospels, in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Epistles of St. Paul—that we feel we know him better than any other person who figured prominently in the life of the Saviour. In all, his name appears 182 times. We have no knowledge of him prior to his conversion, save that he was a Galilean fisherman, from the village of Bethsaida or Capernaum. There is some evidence for supposing that Peter's brother Andrew and possibly Peter himself were followers of John the Baptist, and were therefore prepared for the appearance of the Messiah in their midst. We picture Peter as a shrewd and simple man, of great power for good, but now and again afflicted by sudden weakness and doubt, at least at the outset of his discipleship. After the death of the Saviour he manifested his primacy among the Apostles by his courage and strength. He was "the Rock" on which the Church was founded. It is perhaps Peter's capacity for growth that makes his story so inspiring to other erring humans. He reached the lowest depths on the night when he denied the Lord, then began the climb upward, to become bishop of Rome, martyr, and, finally, "keeper of the keys of Heaven."

Our first glimpse of Peter comes at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry. While He was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, casting a net into the water. When He called to them, "Come, and I will make you fishers of men," they at once dropped their net to follow Him. A little later we learn that they visited the house where Peter's mother-in-law was suffering from a fever, and Jesus cured her. This was the first cure witnessed by Peter, but he was to see many miracles, for he stayed close to Jesus during the two years of His ministry. All the while he was listening, watching, questioning, learning, sometimes failing in perfect faith, but in the end full of strength and thoroughly prepared for his own years of missionary preaching.

Let us recall a few of the Biblical episodes in which Peter appears. We are told that after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus withdrew to the mountain to pray, and his disciples started to sail home across the Lake of Galilee. Suddenly they saw Him walking on the water, and, according to the account in Matthew, Jesus told them not to be afraid. It was Peter who said, "Lord, if it is Thou, bid me come to Thee over the water." Peter set out confidently, but suddenly grew afraid and began to sink, and Jesus stretched forth His hand to save him, saying, "O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?"

Then we have Peter's dramatic confession of faith, which occurred when Jesus and his followers had reached the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus having asked the question, "Who do men say that I am?" there were various responses. Then Jesus turned to Peter and said, "But who do you say that I am?" and Peter answered firmly, "Thou art the Christ, son of the living God." (Matthew xvi, 13-18; Mark viii, 27-29; Luke ix, 18-20.) Then Jesus told him that his name would henceforth be Peter. In the Aramaic tongue which Jesus and his disciples spoke, the word was kepha, meaning rock. Jesus concluded with the prophetic words, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock shall be built My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

There seems to be no doubt that Peter was favored among the disciples. He was selected, with James and John, to accompany Jesus to the mountain, the scene of the Transfiguration, to be given a glimpse of His glory, and there heard God pronounce the words, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
After this, the group had gone down to Jerusalem, where Jesus began to prepare his disciples for the approaching end of his ministry on earth. Peter chided Him and could not bring himself to believe that the end was near. When all were gathered for the Last Supper, Peter declared his loyalty and devotion in these words, "Lord, with Thee I am ready to go both to prison and to death." It must have been in deep sorrow that Jesus answered that before cockcrow Peter would deny Him thrice. And as the tragic night unrolled, this prophecy came true. When Jesus was betrayed by Judas as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and was taken by soldiers to the Jewish high priest, Peter followed far behind, and sat half hidden in the courtyard of the temple during the proceedings. Pointed out as one of the disciples, Peter three times denied the accusation. But we know that he was forgiven, and when, after the Resurrection, Jesus manifested himself to his disciples, He signaled Peter out, and made him declare three times that he loved Him, paralleling the three times that Peter had denied Him. Finally, Jesus charged Peter, with dramatic brevity, "Feed my sheep." From that time on Peter became the acknowledged and responsible leader of the sect.

It was Peter who took the initiative in selecting a new Apostle in place of Judas, and he who performed the first miracle of healing. A lame beggar asked for money; Peter told him he had none, but in the name of Jesus the Nazarene bade him arise and walk. The beggar did as he was bidden, cured of his lameness. When, about two years after the Ascension, the spread of the new religion brought on the persecutions that culminated in the martyrdom of St. Stephen, many of the converts scattered or went into hiding. The Apostles stood their ground firmly in Jerusalem, where the Jewish temple had become the spearhead of opposition to them. Peter chose to preach in the outlying villages, farther and farther afield. In Samaria, where he preached and performed miracles, he was offered money by Simon Magus, a magician, if he would teach the secret of his occult powers. Peter rebuked the magician sternly, saying, "Keep thy money to thyself, to perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased by money."
With his vigorous outspokenness, Peter inevitably came into conflict with the Jewish authorities, and twice the high priests had him arrested. We are told that he was miraculously freed of his prison chains, and astonished the other Apostles by suddenly appearing back among them. Peter now preached in the seaports of Joppa and Lydda, where he met men of many races, and in Caesarea, where he converted the first Gentile, a man named Cornelius. Realizing that the sect must win its greatest support from Gentiles, Peter helped to shape the early policy towards them. Its growing eminence led to his election as bishop of the see of Antioch. How long he remained there, or how or when he came to Rome, we do not know. The evidence seems to establish the fact that his last years were spent in Rome as bishop. The belief that he suffered martyrdom there during the reign of Nero in the same year as St. Paul is soundly based on the writings of three early Fathers, St. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian.[1] The only writings by St. Peter which have come down to us are his New Testament Epistles I and II, both of which are thought to have been written from Rome to the Christian converts of Asia Minor. The First Epistle is filled with admonitions to mutual helpfulness, charity, and humility, and in general outlines the duties of Christians in all aspects of life. At its conclusion (I Peter v, 13) Peter sends greetings from "the church which is at Babylon." This is accepted as further evidence that the letter was written from Rome, which in the Jewish usage of the time was called "Babylon." The second Epistle warns against false teachings, speaks of the Second Coming of the Lord, and ends with the beautiful doxology, "But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. To him be the glory, both now and the day of eternity."
The latest archeological findings indicate that St. Peter's Church in Rome rises over the site of his tomb, as Pius XII announced at the close of the Holy Year of 1950. In the catacombs many wall writings have been found which link the names of St. Peter and St. Paul, showing that popular devotion to the two great Apostles began in very early times. Paintings of later date commonly depict Peter as a short, energetic man with curly hair and beard; in art his traditional emblems are a boat, keys, and a cock.


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stpeter.asp#ixzz1zDisNLZa


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