“Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.”
Petitions to St. Peter and St. Paul
Feast day June 29th
O holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, I choose you this day and forever to be my special patrons and advocates; thee, Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles, because thou art the Rock, upon which Almighty God hath built His Church; thee, Saint Paul, because thou wast fore-chosen by God as the Vessel of election and the Preacher of truth in the whole world. Obtain for me, I pray you, lively faith, firm hope, and burning love; complete detachment from myself, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, attention in prayer, purity of heart, a right intention in all my works, diligence in fulfilling the duties of my state of life, constancy in my resolutions, resignation to the will of God and perseverance in the grace of God even unto death; that so, by means of your intercession and your glorious merits, I may be able to overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and may be made worthy to appear before the chief and eternal Shepherd of souls, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth for endless ages, to enjoy His presence and love Him forever. Amen.
O God, who in the abasement of your Son
have raised up a fallen world,
fill your faithful with holy joy,
for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin
you bestow eternal gladness.
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.
Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,
all you who love her;
exult, exult with her,
all you who were mourning over her!
Oh, that you may suck fully
of the milk of her comfort,
that you may nurse with delight
at her abundant breasts!
For thus says the LORD:
Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms,
and fondled in her lap;
as a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.
When you see this, your heart shall rejoice
and your bodies flourish like the grass;
the LORD’s power shall be known to his servants.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 239 By calling God “Father”, the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood,1 which emphasizes God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard:2 no one is father as God is Father.
CCC 370 In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.3
1 Cf. Isa 66:13; Ps 131:2.
2 Cf. Ps 27:10; Eph 3:14; Isa 49:15.
3 Cf. Is 49:14-15; 66: 13; Ps 131:2-3; Hos 11:1-4; Jer 3:4- 19.
These words of the prophet encouraged the returned exiles to rebuild the city and to continue hoping for the Messianic days in which, according to all the prophets, there would be a new Jerusalem and a new world of peace and plenty for all.
The prophecy was never fulfilled in the earthly capital of Palestine. They were never intended to be fulfilled there. They are already partially fulfilled in Christ’s messianic kingdom on earth, but it is only in his heavenly kingdom that they will be really and truly fulfilled.
The Church which Christ established is the new Jerusalem on earth. It is the capital and the home of all races and all nations. It has the means to lead and direct all mankind to the everlasting “Jerusalem which is above.” It has the sacraments, actions with effective power given it by Christ, by means of which men can become citizens of the new kingdom, can be nourished on their heaven-ward journey, can be cleansed from any stains they bring on themselves through sin. The sacraments are as well special helps for the particular mode of life which they elect to live in this kingdom. They have, also, appointed leaders to whom God has promised the assistance of his Holy Spirit. These leaders can safely and without fear of error lead their people through the obstacles and hindrances of this world to their heavenly home above.
Surely, we Christians can rejoice and exult over our new Jerusalem. It has all we need to speed us on our way. But it is only a mode of transport. Whilst we can feel safe and absolutely secure on board the barque of Peter, to change the metaphor, we are still on a voyage which of its very nature entails some strains and stresses. We are not all good seamen. Most of us are land-lubbers who dread the sea. God, however, knew this when he invited us to join the ship. He has his sick-bay on board to renew the health and the spirits of the sea-sick members.
If we stay on board, the barque of Peter will bring us safely to our new and everlasting home notwithstanding, nay, maybe in most cases because of, the many hardships we have to endure on the voyage.
The heavenly Jerusalem awaits us all. There we shall find a life of plenty, a life to fulfill all our desires, a life of perfect security, as comfortable and as happy and as carefree as the suckling, babe on its mother’s bosom. That life will have no end. Together with this personal happiness of each one of us, there will be the enjoyment of the company of the Blessed Trinity, the glorified human nature of Christ, our blessed Mother and all our fellow creatures who received the same gracious gift of eternal salvation from God, which we ourselves received.
What are all the earthly joys and pleasures that ever were or ever will be, compared with the joys and the happiness of heaven? What is earthly life at its best and its longest when compared to an eternal life? Which shall I choose–could I hesitate even for an instant?
Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!”
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Brothers and sisters:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision,
but only a new creation.
Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule
and to the Israel of God.
From now on, let no one make troubles for me;
for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,
brothers and sisters. Amen.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.”1
CCC 1460 The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, “provided we suffer with him.”2
The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of “him who strengthens” us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ. .. in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth “fruits that befit repentance.” These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by the Father.3
1 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Cf. Rom 6:34; Col 2:12.
2 Rom 8:17; Rom 3:25; 1 Jn 2:1-2; cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1690.
3 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1691; cf. Phil 4:13; 1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17; Gal 6:14; Lk 3:8.
If only we all could, at all times, be like St. Paul and appreciate and realize what being a Christian is, the difference it has made in our relationship with God and the new, proper outlook it gives us on life! The pagan who has not yet heard of the true God, or of the marvelous dignity he conferred on man when he sent his own divine Son to become one of us so that we could become one with him, has yet some ray of light to brighten the gloom of life, through his belief in his ancestral gods and through the graces God can and does send him. But yet he is lacking so much that we already have.
Compared with the pagan whose education is minimal or non-existent and who seldom reflects on life and its purpose, how much more distressing and insoluble must be the meaning of life for the educated man of our western world who has denied the existence of God! He is bound to reflect frequently on life and its brevity. But he has cast from him the one solution to all of life’s enigmas by denying the existence of a personal God, who has created all things and plans and provides for all his creation.
It is no wonder that such disbelievers in God and a future life rush headlong into pleasure-seeking or/and into the acquisition of this world’s goods. They see nothing to satisfy the normal intellectual aspirations of every intelligent person in this world. Theirs is a vain attempt to fill with temporal substitutes, which can last but a few short years, the vacuum created by their godless philosophy. They are trying to empty the ocean with a sea-shell!
These words are said not in derision but in sadness. Every true follower of Christ who knows, and has experienced, God’s infinite love for his human creatures, must and does wish and pray that all his human children will come to know their loving heavenly Father. He wants them all in heaven. He wants and expects us to help in bringing them there. The pagans whom we can help by co-operating with the missionary societies of the Church are numerous. Our godless neighbors can be helped in divers ways. Love will find a way. If we really love God and our neighbor who is out of contact with God, we shall find a way to get them to meet.
The good example of our own Christian life is the best incentive to move others to think of their way of living and of its many unanswered riddles. We should pray, for a short while maybe, but fervently and often, for the grace of light for our neighbor who is blind to things spiritual. Such a prayer, if motivated by pure charity and free from all taint of selfishness, will not be left unanswered. God still loves his prodigal sons, even when they are loudly and joyfully celebrating his death. He is looking for only the smallest opening to pour his grace into their hearts. Your small prayer may soon produce that little opening.
A third duty incumbent on all of us is to learn all we can about God’s wonderful gift of Christianity to mankind. We Christians take too much for granted. We do not learn enough about our religion. We should be able to stand up and defend our faith if an occasion arises. This demands previous study. There are books available. There are study circles within the easy reach of most of us. We should avail ourselves of these helps and thus be able charitably and kindly to correct one who is making (unknowingly perhaps) false statements about things religious. Many an erring child of God has been quietly led back to the heavenward road by a few simple explanations of the Christian faith given during an argument by a sincere follower of Christ.
At that time the Lord
others whom he sent ahead
of him in pairs to every town
and place he intended to
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 765 The Lord Jesus endowed his community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved. Before all else there is the choice of the Twelve with Peter as their head.1 Representing the twelve tribes of Israel, they are the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem.2 The Twelve and the other disciples share in Christ’s mission and his power, but also in his lot.3 By all his actions, Christ prepares and builds his Church.
CCC 787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.4 Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you. .. I am the vine, you are the branches.”5 And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”6
CCC 2122 “The minister should ask nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by the competent authority, always being careful that the needy are not deprived of the help of the sacraments because of their poverty.”7 The competent authority determines these “offerings” in accordance with the principle that the Christian people ought to contribute to the support of the Church’s ministers. “The laborer deserves his food.”8
CCC 2611 The prayer of faith consists not only in saying “Lord, Lord,” but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father.9 Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan.10
1 Cf. Mk 3:14-15.
2 Cf. Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30; Rev 21:12-14.
3 Cf. Mk 6:7; Lk 10:1-2; Mt 10:25; Jn 15:20.
4 Cf. Mk 1:16-20; 3:13-19; Mt 13:10-17; Lk 10:17-20; 22:28-30.
5 Jn 15:4-5.
6 Jn 6:56.
7 CIC, can. 848.
8 Mt 10:10; cf. Lk 10:7; 2 Cor 9:5-18; 1 Tim 5:17-18.
9 Cf. Mt 7:21.
10 Cf. Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2; Jn 4:34.
God’s ways of dealing with us mortals are amazing when we think over them. He calls on men to help him bring themselves and their fellowman to heaven, when he could do this far more effectively himself without any help from man. The Son of God when he was on earth, could have worked some extraordinary signs or miracles which would have made the whole Roman empire, as well as the Jews, sit up and take notice. He could have stayed longer on earth, and could have preached his gospel in Greece and Rome. He could have converted the leading lights in the empire, and thus have made the spread of his gospel so much easier and quicker.
Instead, he chose weak, human creatures who spent years doing work which he could have done in a month or less. Today’s gospel story is an example of this method. One half-hour of Christ in the towns and villages, in which these seventy-two disciples spent some weeks, would have been far more efficacious. He could have brought those people to his feet by one word of command. Yet, he still depends on mere humans to bring the good news of his gospel to their fellowmen, and to bring these fellowmen to heaven. Instead of this slow and often unsuccessful method, he himself could have appeared for a short period over each country in the world and addressed the people. He could have proved to them by a startling miracle or two that it was he. He could have made it clear that unless human beings carried out his commands for the rest of their lives, he had power to see to it that the remainder of the life of those who disobeyed would be very brief indeed.
I seem to remember, a Sunday or two ago, hearing James and John the “Sons of Thunder,” expounding some similar idea. They asked him to call down fire from heaven on some unfortunate Samaritans. Yes, God and Christ, who is God’s divine Son, could do all the things suggested. God’s ways are not our ways. Thank God for that too. He could, without the slightest difficulty, force all men to accept his gospel and live according to it. Men have done harder things when a powerful fellowman was standing over them. What would they not do if their Creator and Lord was standing menacingly over them?
The fact is, of course, that God wants no forced-laborers in heaven. He wants free citizens, who have elected to go there of their own free will. Nor would those men, forced to live the gospel through fear of the all-powerful Master, earn heaven by this kind of obedience. It is because God wants all men in heaven that he leaves each one absolutely free to choose the path that leads there. Only thus can men enjoy heaven. He has marked that path clearly and vividly for all who wish to see. He has placed marked human guides (his pastors) along the way to help the weak and warn travelers of possible wrong turnings.
In other words, he has dealt with us humans in a very human way. He acts, even with his prodigal sons, as a loving father, ever ready to help them as he would help those who remain at home near him. He is almost readier still to welcome back the spendthrifts and wastrels, and lay on a home-coming party for them.
Plaintively, rather than authoritatively, he tells us all in today’s lesson that he needs more helpers to help their fellowmen. This is not only a loving call to the priesthood and the religious life. It is a call to all true Christians. He needs guides on the long road to heaven. The layman or laywoman who is traveling that road can be, and is, as good a guide as the priest or religious. This call from the loving heart of Christ is intended today as much for them as for priests and religious. Up to now, how much have I done to help Christ bring men to heaven? It is time I began, if hitherto I have done nothing in this very important matter. I may be very keen on getting to heaven, but I may be a long time waiting if I arrive alone at the gate! No one can get to heaven unless he loves God. No one can love God unless he loves his neighbor. No one can love his neighbor, and look on without concern while that neighbor is wandering miles from the road which Christ has marked out as the road to heaven. If I am a true Christian, I am thereby a disciple also. I am called on today to do the work of a disciple.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press
Christ is the Answer
We ourselves have this very deep certainty that Christ is the answer and that without the concrete God, the God with the Face of Christ, the world destroys itself; and there is growing evidence that a closed rationalism, which thinks that human beings can rebuild the world better on their own, is not true. On the contrary, without the restraint of the true God, human beings destroy themselves. We see this with our own eyes. We ourselves must have a renewed certainty: he is the Truth; only by walking in his footsteps do we go in the right direction, and it is in this direction that we must walk and lead others. In all our suffering, not only should we keep our certainty that Christ really is the Face of God, but we should also deepen this certainty and the joy of knowing it and thus truly be ministers of the future of the world, of the future of every person. We should deppen this certainty in a personal relationship with the Lord because certainty can also grow with rationsl considerations. A sincere reflection that is also rationally convincing but becomes personal, strong, and demanding by virtue of a friendship lived personally, every day, with Christ, truly seems to me to be very important.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
Pope Leo XIII
O Glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.
Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven.
That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.
These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions.
In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.
Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and Patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, the root of David.
Let thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
As we have hoped in thee.
O Lord, hear my prayer.
And let my cry come unto thee.
Let us pray.
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon thy holy name, and as suppliants we implore thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel St. Michael, thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls.
The prayer was taken from The Raccolta, 1930, Benziger Bros., pp. 314-315.