Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

O Roma Felix!

NB: This is posted on the eve of 28 June, the Vigil of Ss Peter & Paul (but dated for 29 June), in time for First Vespers of the Solemnity!

"Rejoice, O Rome, this day; thy walls they once did sign
With princely blood, who now their glory share with thee.
What city's vesture glows with crimson deep as thine?
What beauty else has earth that may compare with thee?"
These words, a translation of the Office Hymn, "Aurea luce" (possibly by Elpis c.4th cent.) refer to Saints Peter and Paul as the "princes of God's church" and this is perhaps fitting on a day when the Church in Rome, celebrates the feast of her Founders. Incidentally, this day 29 June, superceded the annual Roman celebration of the mythical foundation of the City under Romulus and Remus.

However, with all the triumph and glory of this day, from the statue of St Peter in the Vatican basilica who is today robed in a jewelled cope and the triregnum to the vast image of St Paul, sword in hand, which welcomes you to the Pauline basilica, it may be difficult to recall the humanity of the men who have been given these tremendous honours and titles. And yet, what attracts me so much to St Peter and St Paul is their humanity, their weaknesses and faults, their frailty and propensity for mistakes. In their sinfulness and humiliation, I can identify with them. But more than that, they offer me hope. To me, they are a great example of God's grace working in and building on human nature. Jesus, who called them, obviously saw in them a potential which they would not have recognized themselves and indeed no one else might have either. For who would expect the blood-thirsty and zealous persecutor of the fledgling Church to become her greatest apostle to the Gentiles and first theologian? Or who would have chosen a simple fisherman, a lying coward and boast, to lead the first Christians? Would our bishops or seminary formators choose such men today as priests and religious?! Who, indeed, would elect such men as leaders of the Church?

No one, but God. For only God takes such risks and is so profligate with His love. With love, God called these men out of their fears, sinfulness and ill-fated proclivities and with love, he taught them, nurtured them and built them up to do great things for Him. As such, St Paul, recognising his weakness and God's great love and mercy can say, "We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us" (2 Cor 4:7). Or as St Peter is attributed to have said about the Christian people, "Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:10).

God gave these men his love, His grace, His mercy and empowered them to preach His Word to the ends of the earth, and indeed tradition holds that they went precisely to Rome, the centre of the known world, in order to enable that. For just as all roads led to Rome, so too those same roads took the Good News to the edges of the Empire and beyond. When Jesus Christ chose Ss Peter and Paul, He gave them an opportunity, a chance, the benefit of the doubt. He recognized their potential and used them for the glory of God and His Church. By choosing them, Christ saw into their hearts, and having implanted the seed of grace deep within their hearts, He brought that seed into full flourishing, watering it with the grace of the Holy Spirit. These men, rewarded Christ's faith in them, by tirelessly and fearlessly preaching His salvation to all people and eventually gave their lives in martyrdom for the sake of the Gospel. Redeemed by Love, they were consumed and spent by Love.

This is the reason, Holy Mother Church revels in St Peter and St Paul, for their preaching and witness is ultimately a Gospel of God's love and salvation, writ large in their very lives. We praise God for the wonders He has wrought in them, and we ask St Peter and St Paul to intercede for us, that we, who are still on the journey of faith, may receive God's mercy, love and grace and also the opportunity to flower to our full potential.

The photo above is from a 'Book of Epistles and Gospels for the Whole Year' published in 1864 (Ratisbone, New York, & Cincinnati).

You may wish to read the excellent homily by fr Denis Minns, OP which says with so much more eloquence and depth what I have attempted here!

3 Comments:

Blogger Maureen Martin said...

Thanks for adding me as a link! I will be sure to add you as a link, as well. You can be one of my citizen reporters. You'll be my second Dominican. *g*

9:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,

I eagerly checked the homily of Fr. Mins. It do not find it EXCELLENT, as you described it. His contention that "Paul is IMPATIENT, MANIPULATIVE, HOT-TEMPERED, ARGUMENTATIVE, UNGENEROUS to those who disagree with him, ABUSIVE AND PETULANT" is simply too much. Besides it is unsupported by texts [compared to his texts on Peter's "unattractive" qualities.

I prefer your reflection.

1:27 pm  
Blogger Br Lawrence, O.P. said...

Dear Anonymous,

You are too kind... thank you.

5:07 pm  

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