You’re invited to pray for our Church and Country. On Tuesday, June 29th, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. During this Mass it is appropriate for us to ask for the intercession of these two holy Saints, praying for our country as we approach Independence Day and also our beloved Church, that we may serve as a remedy and balm for the many wounds and divisions that we are currently experiencing in our country. As our Pledge of Allegiance bids us, may we remain “one nation under God.”
This feast is ancient and significant. There is historical evidence that is has been celebrated since the 3rd Century, if not earlier. In some parts of the world, it is still a Holy Day of Obligation.
St. Peter is the rock upon which Jesus built his Church. He represents the apostolic authority and the truth of the gospel that must be safeguarded by the successors of St. Peter. St. Paul represents the Church’s missionary zeal. He reminds us that the Good News is a message that must be preached by all of us.
To accomplish the herculean task of healing our culture, we much work together. As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and same judgement.”
And we must also pray fervently as we navigate our fractured world. “Pray without ceasing,” St. Paul told the Thessalonians, “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17–18)
Pope Benedict XVI once said in his homily on this day that in their martyrdoms, Sts. Peter and Paul became brothers. After meeting only twice, St. Peter died first being crucified upside down. St. Paul, a Roman Citizen, was allowed a less painful and swift death by being beheaded. In the 4th Century, St. Augustine pleaded, “Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith.”
In recent years, the Church has suggested that we pray particularly for the preservation of religious freedom leading up the our celebration of Independence Day. This is partly because of the many martyrs in the summer calendar, many of whom were persecuted by secular leaders. This is another reason why we gather to offer prayers to Sts. Peter and Paul on this Tuesday!
Let me close with a prayer from the Roman Missal to Sts. Peter and Paul.
Grant, we pray, O Lord our God,
that we may be sustained
by the intercession of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul,
that, as through them you gave your Church
the foundations of her heavenly office,
so through them you may help her to eternal salvation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.