V. The Indispensable Men: Peter, Paul and the Missionary Adventure

It is said that the Church has always been built upon the blood of martyrs. In this volume, the author examines more closely the lives of the two greatest martyrs of the early Church: St. Peter, the 1st Pope and St. Paul, the 1st great theologian and missionary.
Average Time to Read: 4 minutes

A. Why are we known as the Roman Catholic Church ?…Two main reasons.

1. First, like Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors, Catholicism comes in many “flavors” or rites. The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches defines “rite” as follows: “Rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary heritage, distinguished according to peoples’ culture and historical circumstances, that finds expression in each autonomous church’s way of living the faith.” Although the teachings of the Church are unified and held together by its teaching authority (the magisterium), various cultural expressions of those beliefs are permitted. All of these variations can, in some way, be traced back to the apostles, who set out after the ascension of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations. Besides the Roman Rite, which traces itself back to Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome, here are a few other “flavors” or rites that are still practiced today in other parts of the world (all of which are rightly called Catholic): (from the Alexandrian liturgical tradition) Coptic Rite, Ethiopic Rite, (from the Antiochian or West-Syrian liturgical tradition) Maronite Rite, (West) Syrian Rite, Syro-Malankara Rite, Armenian Rite, (from the Chaldean or East Syrian liturgical tradition) Chaldean Rite, Syro-Malabar Rite, (from the Constantinopolitan liturgical tradition) Byzantine Rite, (from the Latin liturgical tradition), Roman Rite, Tridentine Rite, Ambrosian Rite, Anglican Use Rite, Mozarabic Rite, etc. MOST AMERICAN CATHOLICS ARE ONLY FAMILIAR WITH THE ROMAN CATHOLIC RITE BECAUSE IT REPRESENTS THE VAST MAJORITY IN NORTH AMERICA AND BECAUSE PERSECUTION FROM ISLAM AND COMMUNISM HAVE NEARLY WIPED OUT MANY OF THE OTHER CATHOLIC RITES. So, in short, one reason we are referred to as ROMAN Catholics is because there are other types of acceptable Catholic liturgical expression.

2. Second, the Roman Rite traces its origins back to St. Peter, the 1st Pope, and St. Paul, the 1st missionary who both set out to establish a Christian following on the greatest stage of the ancient world…Rome. For all practical purposes, Rome was the capital of the known world and it was the only city that could claim more than one million residents. All great people and ideas eventually arrived there and this was the most effective home base to rapidly spread the faith from. The Church has always been “built upon the blood of martyrs” and both Peter and Paul died in Rome as martyrs in the 60s AD under the persecution of Emperor Nero. Peter, as a foreigner or non-citizen was crucified. At his request he was crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. Paul, as a Roman citizen, was beheaded. Both of their tombs are still located in Rome today under altars of two of the most significant Catholic basilicas. Peter is buried under St Peter’s Basilica and Paul is buried under the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Wall. The narrator mentions the modern custom of Ad Lumina visits in which every bishop in the world is required to visit Rome at least once every five years for an official visit with the Pope, which promotes pastoral unity. The other reason for this visit is to provide the bishops opportunities to visit the tombs of Peter and Paul, which promotes apostolic unity with the past.

B. Peter

A.K.A. Simon Peter, Cephas, Kephas. Peter was also known as son of John or Jonah and brother of Andrew. His family owned a fishing business in Capernaum in the region of Galilee near Nazareth.

Peter was an early Christian leader appointed head of the 12 Apostles. He is regarded as the 1st Bishop of Jerusalem, Antioch (after many Christians fled Jerusalem during Saul’s persecution) and later, Rome. He is also considered the 1st Pope.

Peter is thought to have died a martyr in the 60s AD under Emperor Nero’s persecution. He is said to have been crucified upside down in the Circus Maximus at his own request because he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus Christ. Peter is buried beneath St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Peter is considered the source of 1st Peter, 2nd Peter, and the Gospel of Mark and is a featured character in the early parts of Acts of the Apostles.

C. Paul

A.K.A. Saul or Saul of Tarsus. Paul was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee and a prized pupil of the great rabbi Gamaliel, as well as being a Roman citizen.

Originally appointed, at his own request, to persecute and bring an end to the Christian movement by the Sanhedrin, Paul’s reputation was one to be feared until his dramatic conversion experience on the road to Damascus.

Paul is considered the greatest missionary of the early Church, especially through his mission of bringing the Good News to the Gentiles

Paul is thought to have died a martyr in the 60s AD under Emperor Nero’s persecution. As he was a Roman citizen, he was beheaded rather than being crucified. Paul is buried beneath the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Wall in Rome.

Paul is considered the source of all of the Pauline Letters (Romans, 1st Corinthians, 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st Thessalonians, 2nd Thessalonians) all of the Pastoral Letters (1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, Titus, Philemon) and is also the featured character of the latter parts of Acts of the Apostles.

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