Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Peter and Paul

One of the delightful things about Church tradition is the way it keeps Peter and Paul together forever. The stories of their martyrdom insist on seeing them in prison together, taken on the same day to execution, dying on the same day... Not that history can really support that! But it's not about the history of their last days. The tradition wants you to always think of Peter and Paul together. Rome (where they both died; that part is history!) is full of twin images of Peter and Paul. They're even called the "founders" of the Church of Rome, although neither one was the first to preach the Gospel there. But Peter and Paul were the Apostles who established that Church in their blood, and so united it with the other apostolic Churches of that age, founded by Apostles who were "conformed to the Son" even in the image of his death.
"If [a saint] was privileged to follow the Lord so closely on earth, to have even here and insight into the mysteries of God, how much more fully now in heaven will he be conformed to the Son and share in the vision of the Trinity! And how much more of all this will he be able to communicate to others!" (Adrienne von Spery, The World of Prayer).
These words strike me as especially inspiring and hope-generating on the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul. We usually expect from a saint's intercession some share in the particular grace that marked their life. Ideally, through that grace, we hope to be "conformed to the Son" ourselves. What is the grace the Church looks for from Peter and Paul? That we be "true to their teaching" from whom "we first received the faith" (from the Opening Prayer). True in words, yes, but especially in life.

No comments: