“Let those who are bound fear, those who are loosed fear.”

Tomorrow is a great day for the Roman Church and the Catholic Church throughout the world. 

Because tomorrow is an important feast, Holy Church has designated a vigil.  And vigils were always times of restraint and penance in preparation for the feast.

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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. RobNY says:

    Fr. Z,

    This is a great homily. It is so great to see the universal faith proclaimed across time and from different mouths.

    I’ve been looking at the Latin texts for the Vigil of Sts. Peter and Paul, and I have to admit that I’m hoping that you’ll give us a translation of the prayer which is proper to the first Vespers in the (contemporary) LOTH.

    God bless.


  2. Leonius says:

    Is this a Holy day of obligation in the US?

  3. Geoffrey says:

    This is one of my favourite feast days! It is not a holy day of obligation in the USA.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Is this still a holy day of obligation in England? And thank God for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

  5. Patikins says:

    Are there any foods that are traditionally served for this holiday?

  6. Leonius says:

    Yup its a holy day of obligation in England.

  7. jaykay says:

    supertradmum: no, it’s not a holyday of obligation in the UK, or in Ireland. It was dropped as one after 1969, as far as I know.

  8. jaykay says:

    oh well, make that just Ireland then :) I was only 8 at the time

  9. In Malta, the feast is called “Mnarja” (from ‘luminaria’), and people eat fried rabbit. (Tastes like chicken?)

    In medieval England, it was one of the holidays celebrated with big public bonfires, tubs of ale, and sometimes big banquets.

    Apparently there’s also a lot of fireworks, processions, dancing under the stars, etc. in Italy, along with some fishing boat blessings and decorations in seaport areas all around.

  10. jfk03 says:

    The Feast of SS. Peter & Paul is a day of obligation in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches. Peter, the first enthroned of the Apostles, and Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles — two great pillars of the Church.

  11. jfk03 says:

    O first-enthroned of the Apostles,
    Teachers of the Universe,
    Entreat the Master of all to grant peace to the world,
    And great mercy to our souls.

    Troparion to SS. Peter and Paul

  12. Joan M says:

    The feast is a holyday of obligation in the UK – at least, it is in Wales. I know because when I spoke with my brother on the phone yesterday, he reminded me about it and was horrified when I told him it is not one here in Trinidad!

  13. irishgirl says:

    I saw the First Vespers service with the Holy Father on EWTN yesterday. Really wonderful, from the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.

    I didn’t know that it was a holyday of obligation in the UK-interesting!

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