DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     June 28, 1999     vol. 10, no. 124


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Monday, June 28, 1999

    Monday, June 28:
    Feast of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr and
    Vigil of Saints Peter and Paul

    Red vestments

      First Reading: Genesis 18: 16-33
      Psalms: Psalm 103: 1-4, 8-11
      Gospel Reading: John 21: 15-19


Born in Smyrna in 120 AD, Saint Iraneaus was a disciple of St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna who had often listened at the feet of the Apostle St. John the Evangelist. Sent by Polycarp to France - then Gaul, Iraneaus became a priest in Lyons ordained by St. Ponthinus, Bishop of Lyons, during the terrible of persecution of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Upon Ponthinus' death, Iraneaus succeeded him as the Ordinary of Lyons. In this office, besides dodging Roman persecution, he fought the growing heresies of Gnosticism. Because of his training by Polycarp and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Iraneaus wrote a treatise against the Gnostics that has been handed down and contains the essence in systematic presentation of Catholic Doctrine. His preaching and evangelizing effected countless conversions throughout Gaul as he dispatched many missionaries to all parts of the country. In 203 he was captured by the Romans and the Emperor Severus ordered his execution along with hundreds of other Christians there in the city of Lyons where they all received their crowning glory through martyrdom.

Tuesday, June 29, 1999

      First Reading: Acts 12: 1-11
      Psalms: Psalm 34: 2-9
      Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4: 5-8, 17-18
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 16: 13-19


          Because of the significance of these two saints, we include it under feasts rather than saints. Known as "The Rock" of the Church, Saint Peter is indeed the one who Christ charged to head His Church as the first Pope after He ascended into Heaven. Christ's words in John 21: 15-19 indicate another way Jesus clearly intended Peter to be the first Vicar of Christ on earth when he said: "Feed My lambs...Feed My sheep." The Good Shepherd was passing his staff on to Peter the new shepherd. To this day every bishop carries the shepherd's staff, called a crozier, shaped like the shepherd's crook and symbolic of the bishop's role in feeding Christ's sheep as well as the reason for the staff in the first place, to prod the sheep when they become lax or stray. Up until the eleventh century popes also carried the crozier but now carry the cross, indicated by the cross Pope John Paul II carries whenever on official appearance as the successor of Peter. Through the actions of this saint, we realize Peter was "everyman", an accomplished fisherman by trade who Jesus turned into a "Fisher of men." Peter was weak and afraid, evidence by his denial of Christ as Jesus foretold, but was strengthened on Pentecost to become brave and strong, the leader of the fledgling Church. Cowering in fear far from the Our Lord's Crucifixion at the time, he courageously went to his own crucifixion later in Rome as a martyr. Humbled by the previous experienced he expressed that he was not worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Our Lord, and thus was crucified upside down. From a pebble to a strong rock God transformed this great Apostle just as the Almighty can transform all of us if we are open to His Will.

          Peter's counterpart, Saint Paul took a different route to sanctity. Starting out as Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee who was a voracious persecutor of Christians, he was struck from his horse enroute to Damascus as God confronted him directly "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" To impress that this was truly the One, True God, He struck Saul blind, instructing this Jewish persecutor to go into the city of Damascus and wait. After three days God, through His angel, sent a Christian named Ananias to Paul who was still blind. Ananias had been assured by God that "this man is a chosen vessel to Me, to carry My Name among nations and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name" (Acts 9: 15-16). Trusting in God, Ananias approached Saul saying, "Brother Saul, the Lord has sent me - Jesus, Who appeared to thee on thy journey - that thou mayest recover thy sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." As Acts 9: 17-19 relates, "there fell from his eyes something like scales and he recovered his sight, and arose and was baptized." It was then that Saul realized the folly of his ways and turned his fervor to persecute as Saul into a fire of evangelism as Paul in converting countless Jews and Gentiles to the One, True Faith. It was not an easy path for upon his conversion he did as the Lord instructed, first going to Arabia in preparation for the mission God had for him. Paul underwent numerous hardships including shipwreck, rejection, imprisonment and internal bickering but, by trusting in Christ and the Holy Spirit, this fiery saint persevered writing and proclaiming the majority of the epistles of the New Testament. His journeys ultimately brought him to Rome where he received his crown of martyrdom by beheading in 67 AD, shortly after Peter was crucified by the Romans.

June 28, 1999       volume 10, no. 124


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