“Truly it is fitting and just, right and profitable to salvation to give Thee thanks always, here and everywhere, in honour of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Whom Thy election did so deign to consecrate, that it might change blessed Peter’s worldly trade as a fisherman into divine teaching; so that he might deliver the human race from the depths of hell with the nets of Thy precepts. And then Thou didst change the mind of his fellow Apostle Paul, along with his name; and whom the Church at first feared as a persecutor, She now rejoices to hold as the teacher of divine commandments. Paul was blinded that he might see; Peter denied, that he might believe. To the one Thou gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven, to the other, knowledge of the divine law, that he might call the nations; for the latter brought them in, as the other opened (the door of heaven). Therefore both received the rewards of eternal virtue. Thy right hand did raise up the one, lest he sink as he walked upon the water, and rescued the other from the dangers of the deep when he was shipwrecked for the third time.
The one did conquer the gates of the hell, and the other the sting of death; and Paul was beheaded, for he was shown to be the head of the Gentiles’ faith, while Peter, followed in the footsteps of Christ, the head of us all. Whom together with Thee, almighty Father, and the Holy Spirit, the Angels praise, the Archangels venerate, the Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Principalities and Powers adore; whom the Cherubim and Seraphim with shared rejoicing praise. And we pray that Thou may command our voices to be brought in among them, saying with humble confession: Holy, Holy, Holy…” (The Preface of Ss Peter and Paul in the Ambrosian Missal.)
If the solemn festival of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul ought to be celebrated with feelings of gratitude and veneration throughout the whole Catholic world, as the first preachers of the faith of Jesus Christ and of the holy Gospel, much more ought it to be so celebrated in this our city of Rome; for it was Rome, which, being first enlightened by the heavenly teaching of these Apostles, became, from a disciple of error, Mistress of the Truth; and it was this city of Rome that these Apostles consecrated with their blood.
THE PRAYER, EXTRACTED FROM THE ROMAN BREVIARY.
(As this prayer is little known, it is here given at length in Latin and English, though only referred to in the Roman Raccolta.)
Ante oculos tuos, Domine, culpas nostras ferimus; et plagas quas accepimus, conferimus.
Si pensamus malum quod fecimus, minus est quod patimur, majus est quod meremur.
Gravius est quod commisimus, levius est quod toleramus.
Peccati poenam sentimus, et peccandi pertinaciam non vitamus.
In flagellis tuis infirmitas nostra teritur, et iniquitas non mutatur.
Mens aegra torquetur, et cervix non flectitur.
Vita in dolore suspirat, et in opere non se emendat.
Si expectas, non corrigimur; si vindicas, non duramus.
Confitemur in correctione quod egimus; obliviscimur post visitationem quod flevimus.
Si extenderis manum, facienda promittimus; si suspenderis gladium, promissa non solvimus.
Si ferias, clamamus ut parras; si peperceris, iterum provocamus ut ferias.
Habes, Domine, confitentes reos; novimus quod nisi dimittas, recte nos perimus.
Praesta, Pater omnipotens, sine merito quod rogamus, qui fecisti ex nihilo qui te rogarent. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
V. Gregem tuam, Pastor aeterne, non deseras.
R. Sed inter beatos Apostolos tuos perpetua defensione custodias.
V. Protege, Domine, populum tuum ad te clainantem, et Apostolorum tuorum patrocinio confidentem.
R. Perpetua defensione custodias.
V. Orate pro nobis, sancti Apostoli Dei.
R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, ut nullis nos permittas perturbationis concuti, quos in Apostolicae confessionis petra solidasti. Per Dominum. R. Amen.
Imploret, clementissime Domine, nostris opportunam necessitatibus opem devote a nobis prolata meditatio, qua sanctus olim Joannes Chrysostomus, in hac basilica conditus, te cum beatissimis Apostolis Petro et Paulo repraesentavit sic colloquentem: “Circumdate hanc novam Sion et cirumvallate eam: hoc est, custodite, munite, precibus firmante; ut quando irascor in tempore, et orbem terrae concutio, aspiciens sepulcrum vestrum numquam desiturum, et quae libenter propter me geritis stigmata, iram misericordia vincam, et ob hanc te percipiam vestram intercessionem. Etenim quando Sacerdotium et Regnum video lacryimari, statim quasi compatiens ad commiserationem flector, et illius meae vocis remniscor: ‘Protegam urbem hanc propter David servum tuum et Aaron sanctum tuum.'” Domine, fiat, fiat. Amen, Amen.
“Lord, before Thine eyes we bring our sins, and with them we compare the stripes which we have received.
When we think of the evil we have done, little is that which we suffer, great that which we deserve.
Heaviest are our offences, lightest our burden.
We are afflicted by the punishment of our sin, yet we avoid not the obstinate desire of sinning.
The weakness of our flesh faints under Thy scourges, yet is not our iniquity changed.
The sick soul is sore tormented, yet is not the neck bent.
In pain our life sighs heavily; yet are its deeds in no wise amended.
If Thou waitest for us, we are not corrected; if Thou takest vengeance, we bear it not.
When we are corrected, we confess our shortcomings; after Thou hast visited us, we forget that which we bewailed.
If Thou stretchest forth Thy hand, we promise what we will do; if Thou delayest to draw Thy sword, we perform not our promises.
If Thou strikest us, we cry unto Thee to spare; if Thou sparest, we provoke Thee again to strike.
Lord, hear the confession of Thy guilty people; for we know well that unless Thou shouldest pardon, Thou dost righteously consume us.
Almighty Father, grant us that which though we pray we do not deserve to obtain; Thou who didst create men of nothing, that they might pray to Thee. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
V. Eternal Shepherd, desert not Thy flock.
R. But by thy blessed Apostles guard and defend it evermore.
V. Protect, O Lord, Thy people, who cry unto Thee, trusting in the patronage of Thy Apostles.
R. Yea, guard them with an everlasting defence.
V. Pray for us, O holy Apostles of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
O Almighty God, we beseech Thee, suffer us not, whom Thou hast firmly founded upon the rock of the apostolical confession, ever to be shaken by any storms of the enemy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
O most merciful God, let us obtain timely help in our necessity, whilst we devoutly proffer to Thee the meditation which blessed John Chrysostom, who lies buried in this basilica, has represented Thee thus addressing Thy most holy Apostles Peter and Paul: “Surround this new city of Zion, and compass it about; guard it, fortify it, establish it with your prayers; that when, in time to come, My wrath is kindled within Me, and I begin to shake terribly the earth, I may look on the place where your bodies are lying, and beholding the wounds which ye willingly bear in them for My sake, I may overcome anger with mercy, and so accept your intercession. For indeed, when I behold the tears of the Kingdom and of the Priesthood, straightway My heart is moved to compassion, and I call to mind the words of my mouth: ‘I will protect this city for the sake of David My servant, and Aaron My holy one.’” Amen, O Lord, and Amen.
(CP&S comment – We regret the delay in the publication of this article which should have appeared yesterday on the feast of the holy Apostles and martyrs, Peter and Paul. The team of CP&S were all preoccupied and away from blogging duties.)