The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul . ... a feast celebrated by both Eastern and Western Christians to honor the two Apostles who were martyred at Rome.
Today's feast is the benchmark for any experience of conversion. These two men gave up their lives, lived to their deaths, for what they believed. Any faith worth living for is also worth dying for. The Roman Catholic faith IS just such a faith.
On this very feast day fifteen years ago in 1992 I was sitting in the choir stalls of St John's Abbey, Collegeville Minnesota. As a Lutheran Pastor I was attending a continuing education class at the School of Theology. As a personal devotional exercise I was also participating in Daily Prayer with the monks of the Abby.
I remember very clearly the moment during prayer when I looked up across the altar at the nave of the darkened concrete bunker-like Abbey Church. I recall very vividly the impression I received at that moment that I would be serving God somehow someday in the Catholic Church.
At first I was frightened. Then over time I began to explore what exactly it would mean to become Catholic. I had long been in love with the Catholic Church, its trappings of liturgy and some of its teachings. But with this bit of self knowledge the long, hard work began.
It was a lengthy journey. It took six full years before I was received into the Church. But the wait and the work were well worth it.
To anyone who is thinking about becoming part of the Roman Catholic Church, I'd say to you today "yo-ho, it's worth all the trouble." As the Servant of God John Paul II said "Be not afraid."
From St Augustine....
"Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed.
And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles' blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching and their confession of faith."