Augustine on Sts. Peter and Paul

This is a great day for the Roman Church and the Catholic Church throughout the world.  Let’s get some insight into the importance of Peter and Paul through the writings of St. Augustine.  Here is a starter from s. 295.

1. This day has been consecrated for us by the martyrdoms of the most blessed apostles Peter and Paul.  It’s not some obscure martyrs we are talking about.  Their sound has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the wide world (Ps 19:4).  These martyrs had seen what they proclaimed, they pursued justice by confessing the truth, by dying for the truth.  The blessed Peter, the first of the apostles, the ardent lover of Christ, who was found worthy to hear, And I say to you, that you are Peter.  He himself, you see, had just said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Christ said to him, And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church (Mt 16:16.18).  Upon this rock I will build the faith which you have just confessed.  Upon what you have just said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my Church; because you are Peter.
            Peter, Rocky, from rock, not rock from Rocky.  Peter comes from petra, rock, in exactly the same way as Christian comes from Christ.  Do you want to know what rock Peter is called after?  Listen to Paul: I would not have you ignorant, brothers, the apostle of Christ says; I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized in Moses in the cloud in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.  For the drank from the rock that was following them, and the rock was Christ (1 Cor 10:1-4).  There you have where Rocky, Peter, is from.

In that passage, Augustine makes a close connection not only between the confession of Peter and the Church (which is what most Protestants think Christ did, and did only) but also between the person of Peter and the establishment of the Church.

But in Augustine’s understanding, Christ went beyond saying that His authority to bind and loose rested in the person of Peter alone.  He connects Peter and his actions with the Holy Spirit.  Augustine speaks of how Christ gave the keys to Peter and explains:

It is the dove that binds, the dove that looses, the building built upon the rock that binds and looses. 

Let those who are bound fear, those who are loosed fear.  Let those who are loosed be afraid of being bound; those who are bound pray to be loosed.  Each one is tied up in the threads of his own sins (Prv 5:22).  And apart from the Church, nothing is loosed.

 

Augustine on Sts. Peter and Paul
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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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One Response to Augustine on Sts. Peter and Paul

  1. CaesarMagnus says:

    As many times as I have heard “Peter” coming from “rock” and the phrase “the rock of Christ,” I have never put those two things together like that. Simply beautiful!

    I took a shot at the prayers for the Mass of the Day for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul:
    http://romansacristan.blogspot.com/2006/06/comparison-of-prayers-solemnity-of-sts.html