Labors of the Apostles

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Labors of the Apostles
Imprimatur by Joannes J. Glennon, 1916

First Years of the Church (A.D. 30-42)

On Pentecost, the harvest feast of the Jews, the Holy Ghost descended on the assembled Apostles and disciples. After Peter’s first sermon, three thousand were added to the Church; and a little later over five thousand more. These early Christians “were persevering in the teaching of the Apostles and in the communion of the breaking of bread and in prayer.” They had a common fund. Seven deacons were appointed to take care of the poor and to assist in the preaching of the word of God. Mathias was chosen as an Apostle soon after the defection of Judas.

Peter and John were accused before the Sanhedrin for having cured a lame man, and were forbidden to teach in the name of Christ. Before long, all the Apostles were imprisoned and scourged. The bitter opposition of the Jews broke out in an open persecution of the Christians; and the first victim, St. Stephen, was stoned to death in the year 36. Persecuted Christianity now gained disciples everywhere. Enlightened by God in the three visions of unclean animals, Peter received the first pagan convert, Cornelius the centurion, into the Church. Continue reading

Saint Peter and Saint Paul

<em>The Virgin and Child with Saints Peter and Paul</em> | Girolamo Figino

Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles

After the great solemnities of the movable cycle, and the Feast of St. John the Baptist, none is more ancient, nor more universal in the Church, than that of the two Princes of the Apostles. From the beginning, Rome celebrated their triumph on the very day itself which saw them go up from earth to heaven, June 29th. Her practice prevailed, at a very early date, over the custom of several other countries, which put the Apostles’ feast towards the close of December. It was, no doubt, a fair thought which inspired the placing of these Fathers of the Christian people in the cortege of Emmanuel at his entry into this world. But, as we have already seen, today’s teachings have intrinsically an important preponderance in the economy of Christian dogma; they are the completion of the whole Work of the Son of God; the cross of Peter fixes the Church in her stability, and marks out for the Divine Spirit the immutable centre of his operations. Rome, therefore, was well inspired when, leaving to the Beloved Disciple the honour of presiding over his brethren at the Crib of the Infant God, she maintained the solemn memory of the Princes of the Apostles upon the day chosen by God Himself to consummate their labours and to crown, at once, both their life and the whole cycle of mysteries.  Continue reading