Friday, June 28, 2013

Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Waffle Iron Day

Saturday, June 29 is National Waffle Iron Day. Perhaps we're just hungry as we're preparing this post, but sitting down to a stack of waffles seems like an excellent way to begin Saturday morning.

Having breakfasted well, you may be interested to discover that Saturday is also the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, jointly recognized as co-founders of the Church.

Well, wait, you say, co-founders? Wasn't there only one Founder and isn't He the Fellow on the Cross?

That's true, certainly; there can be no Christianity without Christ. But Christ's death and Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven meant that His followers would have to spread the Word themselves. All the Apostles were recruited as "fishers of men" -- a job description for salesmen if ever there's been one -- and all were martyred for their troubles (with the exception, according to tradition, of St. John).

But Sts. Peter and Paul were (for different reasons) the most significant of the First Salesmen.

The illustration here is from a 1602 painting
by Annibale Carracci, Domine, Quo Vadis.
Scripture tells us that Peter was the designated successor, the "rock" on which the Church would be built. Yet Peter, considered the first Pope by Roman Catholics, was very much a model of human frailty: Holding the Master's gaze, Peter too could walk on water, only to be submerged by his doubts. And while Jesus clearly reposed great confidence in Peter, Peter could also provoke Jesus to the point where Jesus rebuked him, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Peter cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant when the mob came to arrest Jesus in the garden -- only to deny even knowing his Master three times before cockcrow next morning.

Peter was brave enough to leave his home and preach the Gospel in faraway Rome -- but when Nero's persecutions heated up, Peter ran away again.

According to tradition, Peter met Jesus on the road as he was skedaddling out of Rome. Surprised, he asked, "Domine, quo vadis?" Lord, where are you going?

Jesus replied, "Romam vado iterum crucifigi." I am going to Rome to be crucified again. (Meaning, of course, that Jesus was going to Rome to do what Peter was refusing to do.)

Only after this did Peter, suitably chastened, return to Rome and, in due course, face crucifixion on the Vatican Hill. (Tradition has it that he asked to be crucified upside down because he was not worthy to be crucified the same way as Jesus was.)

St. Paul was martyred around this same time. However, Paul was a Roman citizen and, according to tradition, he was killed with a sword.

Talk about the zeal of a convert: As Saul of Tarsus, Paul tried to strangle the infant Christian church in its infancy; he was implicated in some of the earliest persecutions, including the murder of St. Stephen, the Protomartyr. But then Saul took that fateful trip to Damascus... and the scales fell from his eyes.

Google the "patron saint of salesmen" and you'll find out about St. Lucy of Syracuse. St. Paul would have been a far better choice: His missionary work around the Mediterranean and, in particular, his insistence that converts need not follow all the minutiae of the Law of Moses -- in other words the way he repackaged the product -- helped guarantee that Christianity would take root as a world religion.

No comments: