29 Jun 2014

This Week Letter – Jun 29, 2014

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My Dear Parishioners and Friends, Ever since the year 258, the Church has celebrated one feast for both Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul together on June 29 in the West as well as in the East, indicative of the widespread belief that this was the day of the death of both of these Apostles. Indeed, there is a very old custom that the liturgical remembrance of martyrs was to be celebrated on the anniversary of their death. The feast of St. Paul was not combined in a single day with that of St. Peter to equate him in the primacy of the first successor of Christ. Rather, it was to underline that both Apostles were co-founders of the first Christian community in Rome, that both men gave their lives for Christ in that city, and that Rome is home to their relics and shrines. Moreover, the existing opinion, according to a tradition today considered erroneous, was that both Apostles died a martyr’s death on the same day and in the same year. St. Peter suffered a martyr’s death on Vatican Hill, per eye-witness statements. According to the testimony of Origen, he was crucified head down at his own request, since he felt unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Christ. Emperor Constantine the Great , to honor St. Peter, erected a Basilica over his grave. The current Basilica is in the 16th-17th Century style, having been built between 1506 and 1629. Vatican City is located next to St. Peter’s Basilica, existing in its current shape since 1929, a remnant of a former church state. This Basilica, built on the grave of St. Peter, is a symbol of Christ’s Church to all everywhere. Christ bestowed on his successor the extraordinary gift of miracles: Peter raised the dead (Acts 9:32-43) and even his very shadow had the power to heal (Acts5:15) . St. Paul suffered a martyr’s death around the year 67. Earlier, he was arrested in Jerusalem in the year 60. He was imprisoned in Caesarea, Palestine for over two years and there proclaimed Christ. In Rome, he also spent some time as a prisoner until for lack of any evidence of guilt, he was given his freedom. From his prison cell in Rome, Paul sent out numerous letters to individual communities and persons. No doubt, after his release from prison he headed for Spain (Romans 15:24- 25) and from there he returned to Achaia. St. Paul authored 13 letters to various Christian communities, all of which can be found in the New Testament. I extend heartfelt thanks to Father Maciej Galle for his five years of pastoral work here at St. Constance Parish. I am grateful to him for his time, goodwill, friendship, and for the pastoral care with which he surrounded those whom the Lord sent his way. Father Maciej will be Pastor at St. Stephen King of Hungary Parish. I also offer my heartfelt thanks to Father Richard Gron for his four years of pastoral work in our parish. I thank him for his goodness, his openness, his joy and sense of humor. Father Richard will be moving to Sacred Heart Parish in Palos Hills. We will remember both Father Maciej and Father Richard with gratitude. We wish them health and God’s protection wherever the Lord sends them. We will be happy to have you visit us any time you have a chance. Who knows if someday you may return for a longer visit — as pastor! Soon we will welcome to our parish Father Robert Fraczek who is coming to us from the Archdiocese of Czestochowa in Poland. Father Robert was ordained a priest in 2001; he speaks both English and Polish and has long dreamed of serving the people of God in the United States. May the Lord richly bless each and every one of us!