Double of the I Class (1955 Calendar): June 29
The Catholic Church honors many, many saints and today is one of principal importance since ancient times. Today, June 29, we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, who both loved God so fervently they died for the One True Faith. Can we imitate the humility of St. Peter who was crucified upside down since he claimed that he was unworthy to die in the same manner as Our Lord.
The great Liturgist Dom Guéranger, O.S.B. said thus of this day:
It would be difficult to insist more than does today’s liturgy on the episode of Peter’s captivity in Jerusalem. Sever antiphons and all the capitula of this Office are drawn from thence; the Introit has just sung the same; and the Epistle gives in full the history of the event in which the Church is particularly interested on this feast. The secret of her preference can easily be divined. This festival celebrates the fact that Peter’s death confirms the queen of the Gentile world in her august prerogatives of sovereign lady, mother and bride; but the starting-point of all this greatness was the solemn moment in which the vicar of the Man-God, shaking the dust from his feet over Jerusalem, turned his face westwards, and transferred to Rome those rights which the Synagogue had repudiated. It was on quitting Herod’s prison that all this happened. “And going out of the city,” says the Acts, “he went into another place.” This other place, according to the testimony of history and tradition, is no other than Rome, then about to become the new Sion, where Simon Peter arrived some weeks afterwards. Thus, catching up the angel’s word, the Gentile Church sings this night in one of her responsories at Matins: “Peter, arise, and put on thy garments: gird thee with strength to save the nations; for the chains have fallen from off thy hands.”
Just as in bygone days Jesus slept in the bark that was on the point of sinking, so Peter was sleeping quietly on the eve of the day fixed for his death. Tempests and dangers of all kinds are not spared, in the course of ages, to Peter’s successors. But never is there seen in the bark of holy Church the dire dismay which held aghast the companions of our Lord in that vessel, tossed as it was by the wild hurricane. Faith was then lacking in the breasts of the disciples, and its absence caused their terror. Since the descent of the Holy Ghost, however, this precious faith, whence all other gifts flow, can never be lost in the Church. It is faith that imparts to superiors the calmness of their divine Master; faith maintains in the hearts of the Christian people that uninterrupted prayer, and humble confidence which silently triumphs over the world and the elements, even over God himself. Should the bark of Peter near the abyss, should the Pilot himself seem to sleep, never will holy Church imitate the disciples in the storm of Lake Genesareth. Never will she set herself up as judge of the due means and moments for divine Providence, nor deem it lawful for her to find fault with him who is watching over all: remembering that she possesses within her a better and surer means than any other of bringing to a solution, without display or commotion, the most extreme crises; never ignoring that if intercessory prayer does not falter, the angel of the Lord will surely come at the given hour to awaken Peter and break his chains asunder.
Oh, how far more powerful are a few souls that in their unobtrusive simplicity know how to pray, than all the policy and all the soldiers of a thousand Herods put together! The small community assembled in the house of Mary, mother of Mark, were few indeed in number; but thence, day by day and night by night, arose one continual prayer; fortunately, that fatal naturalism was unknown there, which, under the specious pretext of not tempting God, refrains from asking of him the impossible, whenever there is question of the Church’s interests. This pest of naturalism is a domestic enemy harder far to grapple with, at a critical moment, than the crisis itself! To be sure, the precautions taken by Herod Agrippa not to suffer his prisoner to escape his hands do credit to his prudence, and certainly it was an impossible thing asked for by holy Church, when she begged the deliverance of Peter at such a moment: so much so, indeed, that even those who were praying, when their prayers were heard, did not at first believe their own eyes! But the prevailing force of their strength was just in that—namely, to hope against all hope—for what they themselves knew to be holy foolishness; that is to say, to submit in prayer the judgment of reason to the sole view of faith!
Mass in 2008:
O God, Who hast made this day holy by the martyrdom of Thine Apostles Peter and Paul: grant that Thy Church may in all things follow the precepts of those through whom she received the beginnings of the Faith. Through our Lord.
Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal