Presence of God— O Lord, grant that the Solemnity of these Apostles may strengthen my faith and my fidelity to the Church.
The Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Princes of the Church, awakens in our souls a greater love for the Church and for our Holy Father the Pope.
The liturgy today gives the place of honor to St. Peter, the head of the Apostles; [later] it will speak to us of St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Thus it presents to us those who have established the Church, not only by their labors, but even by their blood. The Gospel (Matthew 16:13-19) recalls the scene at Caesarea, where Jesus, for the first time, proclaimed Peter as the foundation stone of the Church: “I say that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church,” words which have had a magnificent repercussion down through the centuries, and which, even today, bear witness to the primacy of Peter and his successors over the whole of Christianity–not over a number of small churches, but over one great, unique Church, the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church. One only Church, whose sole Founder and Head is Christ, who chose Peter to represent Him. “Where Peter is, there is the Church” (St. Ambrose). This means that wherever the Pope, Peter’s successor, is, there the Church is. Rightly, then, should we consider the Solemnity of St. Peter as the Feast of the Church, the Feast of our Holy Father the Pope, and one which should awaken in every Christian soul a profound sense of belonging to the Church and of devotion to the Sovereign Pontiff. At the moment of her death, St. Teresa of Jesus repeated: “I am a daughter of the Church!” After having labored so much for God and souls, this was the only title that made her sure of the divine mercy. To be a child of the Church! This is our title to salvation, this is our glory, after that of being a child of God. Or rather, not after, but together with, for, as the Fathers of the Church say, “He cannot have God for Father who does not have the Church for Mother” (St. Cyprian). He is not a true Catholic who does not feel the joy of being a child of the Church, whose heart does not vibrate for the Church and for the Vicar of Christ upon earth, who is not ready to renounce his own personal views in order to “sentire cum Ecclesia,” to think with the Church, always and in all things.
“O sovereign, ineffable God, I have sinned and am unworthy to pray to You, but You have the power to make me worthy. Lord, punish my sins and do not judge me according to my faults. I have a body: I offer and give it to You. If it is Your will, crush my bones and my marrow for Your Vicar on earth, for whom I pray to You…. Give me a heart that will continually grow in grace, a heart strong enough to defend the banner of the Holy Cross, so as to bring infidels to share like us in the Passion and Blood of Your only-begotten Son, the Lamb without spot.
“O infinite, eternal Trinity, do not delay any longer, but through the merits of St. Peter, help Your Spouse, the Holy Church…. I cry to You today, O my Love, eternal God; show mercy to the world and enlighten Your Vicar, so that all will follow him…. Enlighten also the enemies of the Church who resist the Holy Spirit, that they may be converted to You, my God. Call them, stir up their hearts, O inestimable Love, and let Your charity constrain You to conquer their hardness. Bring them back to You, that they may not perish. And because they have offended You, O God of sovereign mercy, punish me for their sins. Take my body which I have received from You; I offer it to You. May it become an anvil for them, so that their sins may be destroyed” (St. Catherine of Siena).
“O Lord, in spite of my great misery I do not cease to beseech You to hear me: Your glory and the good of Your Church are at stake. All my desires are directed to this intention. Does it seem overbold of me to think that I can do anything toward obtaining this? Hear me not, O Lord, when I ask You for honors, endowments, money or anything that has to do with the world, but when I ask only for the honor of Your Son, why should You not hear one who would willingly forfeit a thousand honors and a thousand lives for You? Do not hear me, O Lord, for my own sake, for I do not deserve to be heard, but for the sake of the Blood of Your Son and for His merits” (Teresa of Jesus Way of Perfection 3).