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St. Peter and St. Paul - June 29

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Biographical selection:

Sts. Peter and Paul always listen to the prayers of their devotees. Time has not diminished their power, and from Heaven – even more than when they were on earth – they do not abandon the interests of the Church or neglect the least of the inhabitants of this glorious earthly City of God, of which they were and remain princes.

Sts. Peter and Paul holding the Church before God

Sts. Peter and Paul presenting the Church to God
Venetian school, 14th century

One of the triumphs of the Devil in our times is to have dulled the faith of good people in this regard. It is necessary to insist that man awake from this deathlike sleep that makes us forget that Our Lord wanted these two saints to continue His work and represent Him visibly on earth.

St. Ambrose extols the continuing, vibrant apostolic mission of the Church, and expresses with profundity and delicacy the roles of Sts. Peter and Paul in the salvation of the elect. The Church, he says, is the ship from which Peter fishes, and for this labor at times he receives an order to use the hook, and at other times, the net. It is a great mystery, for this fishing is entirely supernatural. While the net does not harm the fish, the hook wounds it; the net takes in multitudes, the hook catches a single fish. The good fish does not resist the hook of Peter because it does not kill, but rather converts. Fortunate the gash that permits one to profess the same faith of Peter!

It is for this reason that Jesus told Peter: “"Put out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:1) “Put out into the deep water” – that is, go to the very depths of the hearts of men. ‘Put out into the deep water” – go to Christ, the source of living waters of wisdom and knowledge.

Peter continues to fish every day. Our Lord tells him: “Put out into the deep water.” But one seems to hear Peter replying: “Master, we have worked all night with no result.” Peter suffers when we are hard-hearted. Paul is also fighting for our souls. Didn’t he tell us that no one suffers without him also suffering? We should act in a way that does not make the Apostles suffer.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

These are very beautiful words. Let us consider some of the thoughts in them.

Sts. Peter and Paul fishing at the command of Our Lord

Calling of St. Peter

First, the selection makes an interesting remark about how Divine Providence permitted the faith of many good people to be dulled regarding the roles that St. Peter and St. Paul exercise in Heaven. This is true. Devotion to the Apostles has diminished a great deal, except for devotion to St. Jude Thaddeus, who was an almost unknown Apostle and for a time even raised some suspicion because people thought that this Judas might be Judas Iscariot, also a member of the College of Apostles. Except for the devotion to St. Jude, who became the patron of the impossible, devotion to the other Apostles decreased a great deal.

This diminishment is completely unreasonable since it is evident that the mission of the Apostles did not diminish with time. On the contrary, we know that their mission continues now and will continue until the end of time. They were not Apostles for just one epoch. They were not men who saved souls in the first days of the Church, and then went to Heaven where they do nothing. They are there now with Our Lord Jesus Christ watching and exercising a role over the entire Church.

The apostolate they made in their times was a seed they planted that contained the apostolate of all epochs. From Heaven they continue to nurture and develop it. Therefore, devotion to them is a necessary thing, and this selection gives us an opportunity to recommend ourselves to St. Peter and St. Paul, to pray to them, and to increase our devotion to them.

The disciples fishing at the command of Our Lord

The miraculous draught of fish - Duccio di Sienna

Second, the selection seems to insinuate a difference between the apostolate of St. Peter – made with a hook – and the one of St. Paul – made with a net. The distinction between these two different methods of apostolate is useful. The apostolate of the net is meant to catch a large number of people; the apostolate of the hook is destined to catch this or that particular person.

Third, the text speaks beautifully of the apostolate of hook, saying that the hook wounds the mouth of the fish, but by means of this gash he pays the price of his conversion. There are conversions that are very difficult, that are only possible through great sacrifices and sufferings. The blood exacted by the great effort is the price paid to be a part of the Catholic Church. This is a normal characteristic of the apostolate of the hook.

Our Lady and the Child Jesus with Sts. Peter and Paul

Our Lady & the Child with Sts. Peter and Paul - Lorenzo Biccidi, Venice

There are conversions, however, that are painless. In the Middle Age, for example, we have the marvelous examples of the conversions of Kings who brought entire nations with them: the kingdom of the Franks came to the Church with Clovis, the Hungarians with St. Stephen, the Polish with Boleslaus, the Ukrainians with St. Vladimir, and so on. These were apostolates of the net that brought a multitude of souls without any special suffering.

Fourth, another beautiful part of this selection speaks of the apostolate when it is without fruit. St. Peter and St. Paul experienced enormous difficulties in their apostolates, and also enjoyed times of extraordinary successes. They were not easy labors with “happy endings.” It was hard work along rocky paths that required much prayer and supernatural help in order to go forward. Without this help, the apostolate is fruitless.

We should remember this in our own apostolate. We should keep in mind that St. Peter’s fished all night and was unsuccessful. But when he asked Our Lord for help, the net was lifted from the water filled with fish.

This reference to the miraculous catch serves to help increase our humility and supernatural spirit. Without supernatural assistance, without the help of God through the intercession of Our Lady, our apostolate will be fruitless.

We see that this results in a greater glory for Our Lady and should raise in us the desire to draw closer to her. She who is our very amiable Mother and an all-powerful supplicant before God, she who with her prayer can attain everything that she requests.


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Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio's custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day's saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.

The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA's site.

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