My dear parishioners and friends of our parish community: Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!
Today the Roman Catholic Church focuses our attention on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles and heavenly patrons of our Roman Catholic Church and the Eternal City of Rome where their tombs are so honored in great and majestic basilicas!
These are men whose earthly lives were marked by great failures and crowned with great successes. These Apostles are perhaps the most important pillars upon which the Roman Catholic Church has been built: St. Peter the turncoat-turned-trustee of the keys to the kingdom and St. Paul, the persecutor of Christians-turned-Apostle to the nations. These were men whose sins were among the most despicable, making their conversions all the more remarkable.
Let this Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul inspire us to turn to Christ Jesus, even when we feel that our own sins are the worst of all. Saints Peter and Paul were men who turned away from sin and became the most faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ. Let us ask their intercession today to aid us in our lives as we follow their example.
TODAY, JUNE 29TH, 2008 THROUGH JUNE 29TH, 2009, OUR HOLY FATHER, POPE BENEDICT XVI, OPENS THE HOLY YEAR OF GRACE IN HONOR OF SAINT PAUL. The Catholic Church throughout this special year of grace honors the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, Apostle. We will learn much during this Holy Year from special attention to the beautiful writings and epistles of St. Paul.
I, your pastor, open this special “Holy Year of St. Paul” here at St. John’s in some very special ways for us. As you may notice today at Mass, I have restored and returned the beautiful Gothic-style traditional six candlesticks and crucifix to our main altar. Pope Benedict XVI, in his writings on the sacred liturgy, has asked pastors to return to offering Holy Mass focused upon Jesus Christ and His redemptive sacrifice on the cross. The return of the altar crucifix helps the priest to focus his own attention in what the Holy Father calls “ad Deum”, “altar of sacrifice.”
Pope Benedict encourages this liturgical practice to help us all see better JESUS CHRIST, truly and substantially present upon our altar during the Mass. This style is presently used by our Holy Father at all of his Masses in Rome. You may have noticed this too on his trips outside of the Vatican, that he prefers the altar be adorned with six candlesticks and cross. This was seen in both of the papal Masses in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City, and the final Mass at Yankee Stadium. This return here at St. John’s altar keeps us united to Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of St. Peter, the First Pope.
Also, on Mondays during Ordinary Time in this Holy Year, I will offer the “Votive Mass of Saint Paul, Apostle.” May these be holy reminders of all the special graces that Pope Benedict XVI desires for the Catholic faithful throughout the world in a year dedicated to St. Paul. Please remember your daily prayers for the intentions of Pope Benedict XVI. Viva el Papa! Long live the Pope!
A blessed Jubilee Year of St. Paul!
A pleasant summer Sunday to all!
Devotedly in the Heart of Christ,
St Paul and St Paul’s Basillica