Two Kinds of Life

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I love reading this in the Office of Readings and look forward to it each year – especially since it unites two apostles that are especially important to me, as I am named after both of them: St. Peter and St. John.

It is usually read today, the Saturday after Ascension, but when the Ascension is transferred to Sunday (as it is in all but six dioceses in the US) we read it on Friday.

From a treatise on John by Saint Augustine, bishop
Two kinds of life
The Church recognizes two kinds of life as having been commended to her by God. One is a life of faith, the other a life of vision; one is a life passed on pilgrimage in time, the other in a dwelling place in eternity; one is a life of toil, the other of repose; one is spent on the road, the other in our homeland; one is active, involving labor, the other contemplative, the reward of labor.
The first kind of life is symbolized by the apostle Peter, the second by John. All of the first life is lived in this world, and it will come to an end with this world. The second life will be imperfect till the end of this world, but it will have no end in the next world. And so Christ says to Peter:Follow me; but of John he says: If I wish him to remain until I come, what is that to you? Your duty is to follow me. Continue reading

Saints of the Octave

Merry Christmas!  As the eight day celebration of Our Lord’s Nativity approaches its end this might be a good time to look at the different saints who are celebrated during the Christmas Octave.  They are many and varied, so what brings them together during this exalted celebration?

St. Stephen, St. John the Apostle, the Holy Innocents, St. Thomas Becket, the Holy Family.  Well, probably no one wonders why the feast of the Holy Family falls within the octave, but what about the others?  In their lives we see that the followers of Christ may come from any profession, any background, any culture.  The key is not where they came from, but where they were going – no matter which direction their lives were headed, when they heard Jesus’ call they followed Him unreservedly, even to Calvary and the shedding of their blood.

Martyrdom of St. Stephen

St. Stephen, the first martyr, whose blood bore great fruit for the Church – the grace of his sacrifice turned Saul the Pharisee into St. Paul the Apostle.

St John writing his Gospel

St. John, especially beloved of God, and entrusted with the care of Our Lord’s own Mother, his Gospel teaches us so much about the divinity of Christ.

The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents

The Holy Innocents – babies and toddlers, unable to speak the name of their newborn King, yet giving their lives for Him.  In their martyrdom we see God’s power in bringing grace and goodness out of even the most evil actions of man.

 Martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket

St. Thomas Becket – a close friend of King Henry II, but once consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury, he didn’t shrink from opposing the king in defense of Christ and His Church, even when it cost him his life.

Though not all were called to follow Him to the same end, they all shared a life-changing love for Jesus Christ.  As St. Thomas Becket wrote in the second reading from today’s Office of Readings, “The whole company of saints bears witness to the unfailing truth that without real effort no one wins the crown.”

Each one of these saints won the crown of eternal life – some by the witness of their blood, but all by the witness of their life – through sacrifice, prayer, perseverance, and God’s grace; all of which are available to us today, if only we seek and ask.