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.
“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church . . .” Mt 16:19
I have just returned from a trip to Rome, Assisi, Venice, the Klagenfurt region of Austria, Salzburg and Munich. As part of our travels, we had tickets to the Wednesday Papal Audience in Saint Peter’s Square. It was a surreal moment when Pope Francis passed by in his Pope-mobile. To be sitting there with the beautiful architecture and statues of the Apostles and Saints and hearing him give his address with many other pilgrims made real the image of the universal Church. After the audience, we had an opportunity to go into Saint Peter’s Basilica where the art and architecture is so beautiful and large that it is overwhelming. To be where so much history of the Church has taken place and to walk where many historical figures and saints have walked was both a thrill and a sacred moment I shall never forget.
To begin our tour in Rome was perfect and set the stage for the other churches we would visit or I myself would visit over the next two weeks. To pray at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi, see Saint Mark’s and attend Sunday liturgy at St Pantalon, where the world’s largest canvas painting covers the ceiling, in Venice. In Salzburg, Saints Peter and Paul cathedral and in Munich it was the Church of the Holy Spirit, Saint Peter’s, Saint Michael’s and the Old Cathedral near the MarienPlatz. 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.