PETER was of Bethsaida in Galilee, and as he was fishing on the lake was called by Our Lord to be one of His apostles. He was poor and unlearned, but candid, eager, and loving. In his heart, first of all, grew up the conviction, and from his lips came the confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;" and so Our Lord chose him, and fitted him to be the Rock of His Church, His Vicar on earth, the head and prince of His apostles, the Centre and very principle of the Church's oneness, the source of all spiritual powers, and the unerring teacher of His truth. All Scripture is alive with him; but after Pentecost he stands out in the full grandeur of his office. He fills the vacant apostolic throne; admits the Jews by thousands into the fold; opens it to the Gentiles in the person of Cornelius; founds, and for a time rules, the Church at Antioch, and sends Mark to found that of Alexandria. Ten years after the Ascension he went to Rome, the centre of the majestic Roman Empire, where were gathered the glories and the wealth of the earth and all the powers of evil. There he established his Chair, and for twenty-five years labored with St. Paul in building up the great Roman Church. He was crucified by order of Nero, and buried on the Vatican Hill. He wrote two Epistles, and suggested and approved the Gospel of St. Mark. Two hundred and sixty years after St. Peter's martyrdom came the open triumph of the Church. Pope St. Sylvester, with bishops and clergy and the whole body of the faithful, went through Rome in procession to the Vatican Hill, singing the praises of God till the seven hills rang again. The first Christian emperor, laying aside his diadem and his robes of state, began to dig the foundations of St. Peter's Church. And now on the site of that old church stands the noblest temple ever raised by man; beneath a towering canopy lie the great apostles, in death, as in life, undivided; and there is the Chair of St. Peter. All around rest the martyrs of Christ—Popes, Saints, Doctors, from east and west—and high over all, the words, "Thou art Peter, and on this Rock I will build My Church." It is the threshold of the apostles and the Centre of the world.
Reflection. —Peter still lives on in his successors, and rules and feeds the flock committed to him. The reality of our devotion to him is the surest test of the purity of our faith.
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS
The Holy Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul
Introit • Acts 12, 11
Now I know in very deed, that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. Ps. 138, 1, 2. Lord, Thou hast proved me, and known me: Thou hast known my sitting down, and my rising up. Glory be …
O God, Who hast consecrated this day to the martyrdom of Thine apostles Peter and Paul, grant to Thy Church in all things to follow their teaching from whom it received the right ordering of religion in the beginning. Through our Lord.
Epistle • Acts 12, 1-11
Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles.
[Herod's persecution. Peter's deliverance by an angel. Herod's punishment.]
In those days, Herod the king stretched forth his hands, to afflict some of the church. And he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. And seeing that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to take up Peter also. Now it was in the days of the Azymes. And when he had apprehended him, he cast him into prison, delivering him to four files of soldiers to be kept, intending, after the pasch, to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him.
And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him: and a light shined in the room: and he striking Peter on the side, raised him up, saying: Arise quickly. And the chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said to him: Gird thyself, and put on thy sandals. And he did so. And he said to him: Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And going out, he followed him, and he knew not that it was true which was done by the angel: but thought he saw a vision. And passing through the first and the second ward, they came to the iron gate that leadeth to the city, which of itself opened to them. And going out, they passed on through one street: and immediately the angel departed from him.
And Peter coming to himself, said: Now I know in very deed, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
Gradual • Ps. 44, 17, 18
Thou shalt make them princes over all the earth: they shall remember Thy name, O Lord. Instead of Thy father, sons are born to Thee; therefore shall people praise Thee.Alleluia, alleluia. Matt. 16, 18. Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church. Alleluia.
Gospel • Matt. 16, 13-19
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[Christ refuses to shew the Pharisees a sign from heaven. Peter's confession is rewarded. He is rebuked for opposing Christ's passion. All his followers must deny themselves.]
At that time, And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?
Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
Offertory • Ps. 44, 17, 18
Thou shalt make them princes over all the earth: they shall remember Thy name, O Lord, throughout all generations.
May the prayer of Thine apostles, O Lord, accompany the sacrifices which we offer to be consecrated to Thy name, and through it do Thou grant us to be pardoned and defended. Through our Lord.
Communion • Matt. 16, 18, 19
Thou art Peter: and upon this rock I will build My Church.
Preserve, O Lord, from all dangers, by the intercession of Thine apostles, those whom Thou hast filled with heavenly nourishment. Through our Lord.