Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
Today we celebrate two great men of the Church, Saints Peter and Paul. Two ordinary men, one a fisherman and the other a Pharisee and a tentmaker. Two ordinary men who recognized that God had called them to be something greater than they thought themselves to be. Two ordinary men who had courage to speak the truth that was spoken to them through Christ. They endured suffering through many hardships and trials for their words and actions and yet they kept on believing in the truth that dwelt in their hearts.
“Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the Church was fervently being made to God on his behalf.” Acts 12:5
I have just returned from a trip to the Alpine Region of Europe. As part of our travels we stopped in the city of Salzburg, Austria. One of the five churches of the old city is Saints Peter and Paul and it is magnificent! Pope John Paul II had visited there twice. There was also the church of Saint Francis Xavier in Lucerne, Switzerland with its beautiful and at times overwhelming Baroque style. In Como, Italy there was the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary and its ornate Gothic style. In Munich, Germany there was a Church off of the main square named Saint Peter’s and it was just as ornate and beautiful as the others. In Mainz, Germany we visited Saint Stephen’s where the famous Marc Chagall windows flood the church with a soothing blue light. In Mainz we also visited the Cathedral which is one of the oldest being constructed in 1009 and where the recently deceased, Cardinal Lehmann is buried in the crypt, underneath the altar. All of these magnificent structures show the dedication and art of the times in which they were built. Their beauty give praise to God as well as the people who come to pray and celebrate mass every day and on Sundays. These churches and cathedrals were built to teach the people of their day about the Church and they are not the Church. If there were no great buildings the Church would still exist because the Church is more than brick and mortar, it is the People of God.
All of us who are baptized in the Church are the Church. From the beginning it has always been about the people. The prayers of the Church are powerful, they may not always be answered the way we would like but they are still answered. Peter and Paul both put their faith and trust in the Church as they went about spreading the “Good News” They did not have an easy task with the many abuses they underwent as they preached, taught and baptized those who wanted to become disciples. On this feast we remember our two great saints who established the Church. Let us pray for our Church and world that God may send us the graces we need to proclaim the “Good News” and be the Church in our world today.
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.