Sunday, June 30, 2024

Pray with the Pope's special intention for July


Pope Francis’ 2024 Monthly Intentions


For The Pastoral Care of The Sick
Let us pray that the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, bestows the Lord’s strength to those who receive it and to their loved ones, and that it may become for everyone an ever more visible sign of compassion and hope.

The first Saint of the Day for July


St. Junipero Serra

Feastday: July 1
Patron: of Vocations
Birth: 1713
Death: 1784
Beatified: Pope John Paul II
Canonized: September 23, 2015, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., by Pope Francis

Junípero Serra, originally named Miguel José, was born on November 24, 1713, in Petra, Majorca, Spain. His parents, Antonio Nadal Serra and Margarita Rosa Ferrer, were farmers. Baptized at St. Peter's Church in Petra on the same day, Junípero would go on to become a renowned figure in the history of California.

In his early years, Serra attended the primary school run by the Franciscans in Petra. At the age of 15, his parents entrusted him to a cathedral canon in Palma, where he began attending philosophy classes at the Franciscan monastery of San Francisco.

Serra took his first step toward religious life when he became a novice at the Convento de Jesús near Palma on September 14, 1730. A year later, on September 15, he made his profession and chose the name Junípero in honor of St. Francis' companion. Serra pursued his studies in philosophy and theology at the Convento de San Francisco. The exact date of his ordination to the priesthood remains unknown, but it is believed to have occurred in December 1738. In 1742, he earned his doctorate in theology from the Lullian University in Palma. Shortly after, in January 1749, he was appointed the primary professor of theology at the university and was called to serve as an Indian missionary in America.

Accompanied by Francisco Palóu, Serra set sail for America on April 13, 1749. They arrived in Vera Cruz, Mexico, on December 7, 1749. Instead of using the provided horses, Serra chose to walk the 250 miles from Vera Cruz to Mexico City. On January 1, 1750, they reached San Fernando College, having spent the previous night at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Within six months, Serra responded to an urgent call for volunteers for the Sierra Gorda missions. He joined the mission and spent his time between 1750 and 1758 overseeing the construction of a church, promoting religious and economic development, and learning the Otomí language to effectively teach the Pame Indians. Serra's leadership led to the building of mission churches in the other four towns as well.

Afterward, Serra was assigned to the college of San Fernando, where he held various positions, including choir director, master of novices, college counselor, and confessor. He also preached missions as a home missionary in different cities in Mexico. In 1767, he was appointed the president of the ex-Jesuit missions of Baja California.

Serra's enthusiasm and dedication to spreading the faith led him to volunteer for expeditions to Upper California in 1768. He embarked on the journey and reached Loreto on April 1, where he oversaw the establishment of 15 missions, from San José del Cabo to Santa María. Serra's efforts continued as he founded nine missions in Upper California, including San Diego, San Carlos, San Antonio, San Gabriel, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Clara, and San Buenaventura. He also participated in the founding of Presidio Santa Barbara.

Throughout his missionary work, Serra faced health challenges, including leg and foot issues, which required him to be carried on a stretcher during certain parts of his journey. Despite his physical afflictions, he dedicated the next 15 years of his life to evangelizing in Upper California.

Serra passed away on August 28, 1784, at Mission San Carlos, where he was buried in the church he had constructed. By the end of 1784, the number of baptized Indians at the first nine missions had reached 6,736, with 4,646 Christianized Indians residing in them.

Junípero Serra was known for his zeal, optimism, and devotion to his converts. He fought for the freedom of the Church against royal interference and played a significant role in the establishment and expansion of missions in California. His beatification process began in 1934 and concluded in 1949. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988, and later canonized by Pope Francis on September 23, 2015. Junípero Serra is widely recognized as the Apostle of California, with numerous monuments and memorials commemorating his legacy along the Camino Real.

At Angelus, Pope Francis implores all to fight for peace


Women mourn the loss of their family members after Israeli bombardment in al-Maghazi, Gaza Women mourn the loss of their family members after Israeli bombardment in al-Maghazi, Gaza   (AFP or licensors)

Pope: May those who fight wars convert to fighting for peace

Pope Francis prays for peace and remembers today's martyrs, highlighting worldwide discrimination and persecution.

By Francesca Merlo

Addressing the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square for his Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis invited all those present to implore the Sacred Heart of Jesus "to touch the hearts of those who desire war, so that they may be converted to plans of dialogue and peace".

He emphasised, as he often does, the importance of continuing to pray for peace in Ukraine, Palestine, Israel and Myanmar, as well as in the "many other places where there is so much suffering because of war". 

A time of martyrdom

Greeting pilgrims after the recitiation of the Marian Prayer, Pope Francis also recalled today's observance, just one day after the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, of the liturgical commemoration of the first Roman martyrs, also known as the first martyrs of the Church of Rome. "We too", said the Pope, "live in a time of martyrdom", adding, "even more so than in the early centuries".

He explained that in various parts of the world, "many of our brothers and sisters suffer discrimination and persecution because of their faith, thereby nurturing the Church". Others, he continued, face a "white-glove" martyrdom: a term the Pope has used since the early years of his pontificate, to indicate a subtle form of persecution, through which Christians are driven away, marginalised, and discriminated against in political and social life. 

"Let us support them and be inspired by their testimony of love for Christ", concluded the Pope.

Papal Sunday Angelus 06.30. 2024


Pope Francis during his Sunday AngelusPope Francis during his Sunday Angelus  (Vatican Media)

Pope at Angelus: A Church and a society that excludes no one

At the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis reflects on the Gospel account of the miraculous healing of a woman with a haemorrhage and the raising of Jairus's daughter from the dead.

By Christopher Wells

“God does not discriminate against anyone because He loves everyone,” Pope Francis said at the Angelus on Sunday morning.

The Holy Father based his reflection on the two “intertwined” miracles in the day’s Gospel: the healing of a woman with a haemorrhage when she touched Jesus’ cloak, and Jesus taking the hand of Jairus’ daughter as He raised her from the dead.

God’s touch

Pope Francis emphasized the significance of physical touch in the two stories, both of which involved people who were considered ritually unclean. “Even before the physical healing,” the Pope said, Jesus “challenges a religious misconception, according to which God separates the pure on one side and the impure on the other.”

And he invited the faithful to fix this image in their hearts: “God is one Who takes you by the hand and lifts you up, one Who lets Himself be touched by your pain and touches you in order to heal you and give you life again,”

A Church and a society that excludes no one

Despite all the sufferings of this life, the Pope said, and “even in the face of sin, God does not keep us at a distance.” Instead, “He draws near to let Himself be touched and to touch us, and He always raises us from death.”

Pope Francis invited the faithful to “look to the heart of God” precisely because “we need a Church and a society that does not exclude anyone, that does not treat anyone as ‘impure,’ so that everyone, with their own story, is welcomed and loved without labels or prejudices.”

Saturday, June 29, 2024

These early martyrs of Rome are Sunday Saints of the Day


First Martyrs of the See of Rome

The holy men and women are also called the "Protomartyrs of Rome." They were accused of burning Rome by Nero , who burned Rome to cover his own crimes. Some martyrs were burned as living torches at evening banquets, some crucified, others were fed to wild animals. These martyrs died before Sts. Peter and Paul, and are called "disciples of the Apostles. . . whom the Holy Roman church sent to their Lord before the Apostles' death."

Rejoicing in release of 10 Ukrainian POW's; Pope calls for world-wide release of all prisoners of war


Ukrainian citizens who returned from Russian captivity, 25 JuneUkrainian citizens who returned from Russian captivity, 25 June 

Pope prays for worldwide release of prisoners of war

Pope Francis appeals for an end for all wars, and in celebrating the return of Ukrainian prisoners of war, asks that all prisoners, everywhere, be able to go home.

By Francesca Merlo

As Ukraine and the Holy See celebrate the release of ten Ukrainian prisoners by Russian forces, Pope Francis prayed that "all prisoners of war return home soon".

At the end of his Angelus prayer for the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on Saturday, 29 June, the Holy Father's thoughts, in particular, turned to the two Greek-Catholic priests who were released as part of the prisoner swap. 

On Friday evening, Fathers Ivan Levytskyi and Bohdan Heleta, both members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, were released by Russia along with eight others in a prisoner exchange with Ukraine.

Pope Francis on Saturday also invited all those present to pray together that all prisoners return home. At the same time, he reflected "with pain" on the "brothers and sisters suffering because of war".

"Let us think of all the people wounded or threatened by the fighting", said the Pope, asking that God may "free them and sustain them in the struggle for peace". 

Papal Angelus Address for today's Solemnity 06.29.2024


Statue of St. Peter in front of St. Peter's BasilicaStatue of St. Peter in front of St. Peter's Basilica 

Pope at Angelus: The Lord entrusted his Kingdom to flawed St Peter

During his Angelus address for the Solemnity of the Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis recalls how the Lord entrusted His Kingdom to St. Peter, who despite various falls, was able to lead the faithful toward Christ by cultivating the Lord's holy example.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

"Peter received the keys of the Kingdom not because he was perfect, but because he was humble and honest and the Father had given him a forthright faith."

This was the comforting message Pope Francis offered during his Angelus address on Saturday, 29 June, as the Church observed the Solemnity of the Saints Peter and Paul, the Patrons of Rome.

The Holy Father took his cue from the day's Gospel reading in which Jesus says to Simon called Peter: "To you, I will give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 16:19).

Flawed, but relied on God's mercy

"That is why," the Pope pointed out," we often see St Peter depicted with two large keys in his hand, as in the statue here in this square," as he reminded that "those keys represent the ministry of authority that Jesus entrusted to him to serve the whole Church. "

While remembering St. Peter's flaws, the Holy Father reassured that the Apostle, by relying on God's mercy, was able to support and strengthen his brothers and sisters.

The Holy Father clarified that Peter's keys, in fact, are the keys to a Kingdom, "which Jesus does not describe as a safe or a vault," but rather with other images like "a small seed, a precious pearl, a hidden treasure, a handful of yeast," items which, he noted, are "precious and rich, yes, but at the same time small and inconspicuous."

Therefore, to reach the Kingdom, the Pope recalled, "one does not need to operate mechanisms and safety locks, but to cultivate virtues such as patience, attention, constancy, humility."

For everyone, not a few selected guests

Therefore, the mission that Jesus entrusts to Peter, he observed, "is not to bar the doors of the house, allowing access only to a few selected guests," but "to help everyone find their way in, in faithfulness to Jesus' Gospel."

Peter, the Pope recalled, would do this throughout his life, faithfully, until his martyrdom, "after having been the first to experience, for himself, not without fatigue and with many falls, the joy and the freedom that come from meeting the Lord."

Since Peter was the first to open the door to Jesus, and had to convert, his journey, the Holy Father noted, "was not easy." 

"Just think: right after he had said to Jesus: 'You are the Christ," the Master had to rebuke him," the Pope said, "because he refused to accept the prophecy of His Passion and Death on the Cross." 

Questions to ponder

The Pope then urged the faithful to ask themselves some questions.

"Do I cultivate the desire to enter, with God's grace, into His Kingdom, and to be, with His help, a welcoming guardian of it for others as well?"

"And to do so," he continued, "do I allow myself to be polished, softened, and modelled by Jesus and His Spirit, Who dwell in me?"

Pope Francis concluded by praying that Mary, Queen of the Apostles, along with Saints Peter and Paul, help us be a guide for one another and support, for the encounter with Christ.

The Pope's greeting to Romans

At the end of his Audience, Pope Francis greeted the numerous pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square for this solemnity, and especially the Romans. "Today", he said, "I want my greeting to reach all the inhabitants of Rome, each and every one, along with my prayer: for families, especially those who are struggling the most; for the elderly, especially those who are alone; for the sick, the prisoners, and those who are in difficulty for various reasons".

Finally, he expressed his desire that each person have the experience of Peter and Paul, that is, he explained "that the love of Jesus Christ saves lives and encourages giving it, encourages giving it with joy and freely. Life is not for sale", he concluded.

Pope presides at Mass for Solemnity of Sts Peter & Paul


Pope: We need the Lord to open the doors of our hearts

Pope Francis reflects on the image of ‘doors’ in his homily for the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul.

By Christopher Wells

In his homily for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope reflected on the image of “doors” – the doors that opened up when Peter was freed from prison, and the metaphorical doors that opened for Paul when he was converted on the road to Damascus and later when opened the doors of evangelization.

For both Peter and Paul, the encounter with the Lord was “a true and properly paschal experience; they were set free: the doors of a new life opened before them.”

A new Exodus

Expounding on the first reading, Pope Francis noted that the miraculous release of St Peter recalled the experience of the Passover. “The account is that of a new Exodus. God delivers His Church, delivers His people who are in chains, and once again reveals Himself as the God of mercy who sustains them on the journey.”

The Pope goes on to remind the faithful that the doors to Peter’s prison were opened by the Lord. He also points out a curious detail: “the doors of the prison are opened through the strength of the Lord, but he struggles to enter into the house of the Christian community.” Pope Francis lamented that too often our communities “do not learn this wisdom of opening doors.”

A burning zeal for evangelization

Paul’s conversion, too, is primarily a “paschal” experience, the Pope continued. St Paul is changed by his encounter with Christ crucified. “Yet this does not lead to a consoling, inward-looking religiosity as some movements in the Church present to us today, a drawing room spirituality,” the Pope said. On the contrary, “the encounter with the Lord ignites in the life of Paul a burning zeal for evangelization.”

As he preached the Gospel, St Paul often used the image of open doors, a grace experienced also by St Peter. Both “witnessed first-hand the work of God, who opened the doors of their interior prisons but also the actual prisons into which they were thrown because of the Gospel.”

“The Lord also opened before them the doors of evangelization,” the Pope added, “so they could have the joy of encountering their brothers and sisters in the fledgling communities and bring the hope of the Gospel to all.”

Zealous shepherds who open doors

Then, recalling the Metropolitan Archbishops who received the pallium during the Mass, Pope Francis invited them, “in communion with Peter and following the example of Christ, the ‘gate for the sheep’” to be “zealous shepherds who open the doors of the Gospel, and through their ministry, help to build a Church and a society of open doors.”

Finally, after a word of greeting for the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Pope Francis prayed that Saints Peter and Paul might “help us to open the door of our lives to the Lord Jesus” before invoking their intercession “for us, for this City of Rome, and for the whole world.”

Friday, June 28, 2024

Saturday is the Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul


Ordinary Time: June 29th

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles

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June 29, 2021 (Readings on USCCB website)


Grant, we pray, O Lord our God, that we may be sustained by the intercession of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, that, as through them you gave your Church the foundations of her heavenly office, so through them you may help her to eternal salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.











Veneration of the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, has its roots in the very foundations of the Church. They are the solid rock on which the Church is built. They are at the origin of her faith and will forever remain her protectors and her guides. To them Rome owes her true greatness, for it was under God's providential guidance that they were led to make the capital of the Empire, sanctified by their martyrdom, the center of the Christian world whence should radiate the preaching of the Gospel.

St. Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero, in A.D. 66 or 67. He was buried on the hill of the Vatican where recent excavations have revealed his tomb on the very site of the Basilica of St. Peter's. St. Paul was beheaded in the Via Ostia on the spot where now stands the basilica bearing his name. Down the centuries Christian people in their thousands have gone on pilgrimage to the tombs of these Apostles. In the second and third centuries the Roman Church already stood pre-eminent by reason of her apostolicity, the infallible truth of her teaching and her two great figures, Sts. Peter and Paul.

A partial indulgence may be gained today by anyone who makes devout use of a religious article blessed by any priest but "if the article of devotion has been blessed by the Sovereign Pontiff or by any Bishop, the faithful, using it, can also gain a plenary indulgence, provided they also make a profession of faith (e.g. the Apostles Creed), as long as the usual conditions are satisfied.

St. Peter
Peter's original name was Simon. Christ Himself gave him the name Cephas or Peter when they first met and later confirmed it. This name change was meant to show both Peter's rank as leader of the apostles and the outstanding trait of his character — Peter (in Hebrew Kephas) the Rock. Peter was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Like his younger brother Andrew, he was a fisherman and dwelt at Capernaum. Peter's house often became the scene of miracles, since the Master would stay there whenever He was teaching in that locality. Together with his brothers John and Andrew, Peter belonged to the first of Jesus' disciples (John 1:40-50).

After the miraculous draught of fish on the Sea of Galilee, Peter received his definitive call and left wife, family, and occupation to take his place as leader of the Twelve. Thereafter we find him continually at Jesus' side, whether it be as spokesman of the apostolic college (John 6:68; Matt. 16:16), or as one specially favored (e.g., at the restoration to life of Jairus' daughter, at the transfiguration, during the agony in the garden). His sanguine temperament often led him into hasty, unpremeditated words and actions; his denial of Jesus during the passion was a salutary lesson. It accentuated a weakness in his character and made him humble.

After the ascension, Peter always took the leading role, exercising the office of chief shepherd that Christ had entrusted to him. He delivered the first sermon on Pentecost and received the first Gentiles into the Church (Cornelius; Acts 10:1). Paul went to Jerusalem "to see Peter." After his miraculous deliverance from prison (Easter, 42 A.D.), Peter "went to a different place," most probably to Rome. Details now become scanty; we hear of his presence at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1), and of his journey to Antioch (Gal. 2:11).

It is certain that Peter labored in Rome as an apostle, that he was the city's first bishop, and that he died there as a martyr, bound to a cross (67 A.D.). According to tradition he also was the first bishop of Antioch. He is the author of two letters, the first Christian encyclicals. His burial place is Christendom's most famous shrine, an edifice around whose dome are inscribed the words: Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam.
—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patronage: Against frenzy; bakers; bridge builders; butchers; clock makers; cobblers; Exeter College Oxford; feet problems; fever; fishermen; harvesters; locksmiths; longevity; masons; net makers; papacy; Popes; ship builders; shipwrights; shoemakers; stone masons; Universal Church; watch makers; Poznan, Poland; Rome; Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi; Diocese of Las Vegas, Nevada; Diocese of Marquette, Michigan; Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island; Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. See the full list at

Symbols and Representation: Two keys saltire; pastoral staff and two large keys; inverted cross; inverted cross and two keys saltire; crowing cock; fish; two swords; patriarchal cross and two keys saltire; two keys and a scroll; sword.
Often portrayed as: Bald man, often with a fringe of hair on the sides and a tuft on top; book; keys; man crucified head downwards; man holding a key or keys; man robed as a pope and bearing keys and a double-barred cross.

St. Paul
Paul, known as Saul (his Roman name) before his conversion, was born at Tarsus in the Roman province of Silicia about two or three years after the advent of the Redeemer. He was the son of Jewish parents who belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, was reared according to the strict religious-nationalistic party of the Pharisees, and enjoyed the high distinction of Roman citizenship.

As a youth he went to Jerusalem to become immersed in the Law and had as a teacher the celebrated Gamaliel. He acquired skill as a tent-maker, a work he continued even as an apostle. At the time of Jesus' ministry he no longer was at Jerusalem; neither did he see the Lord during His earthly-life. Upon returning to the Holy City, Paul discovered a flourishing Christian community and at once became its bitter opponent. When Stephen impugned Law and temple, Paul was one of the first at his stoning; thereafter his fiery personality would lead the persecution. Breathing threats of slaughter against the disciples of Jesus, he was hurrying to Damascus when the grace of God effected his conversion (about the year 34 A.D.; see January 25, Conversion of St. Paul).

After receiving baptism and making some initial attempts at preaching, Paul withdrew into the Arabian desert (c. 34-37 A.D.), where he prepared himself for his future mission. During this retreat he was favored with special revelations, Christ appearing to him personally. Upon his return to Damascus he began to preach but was forced to leave when the Jews sought to kill him. Then he went to Jerusalem "to see Peter." Barnabas introduced him to the Christian community, but the hatred of the Jews again obliged him to take secret flight. The following years (38-42 A.D.) he spent at Tarsus until Barnabas brought him to the newly founded Christian community at Antioch, where both worked a year for the cause of Christ; in the year 44 he made another journey to Jerusalem with the money collected for that famine stricken community.

The first major missionary journey (45-48) began upon his return as he and Barnabas brought the Gospel to Cyprus and Asia Minor (Acts 13-14). The Council of Jerusalem occasioned Paul's reappearance in Jerusalem (50). Spurred on by the decisions of the Council, he began the second missionary journey (51-53), traveling through Asia Minor and then crossing over to Europe and founding churches at Philippi, Thessalonia (his favorite), Berea, Athens, Corinth. He remained almost two years at Corinth, establishing a very flourishing and important community. In 54 he returned to Jerusalem for the fourth time.

Paul's third missionary journey (54-58) took him to Ephesus, where he labored three years with good success; after visiting his European communities, he returned to Jerusalem for a fifth time (Pentecost, 58). There he was seized by the Jews and accused of condemning the Law. After being held as a prisoner for two years at Caesarea, he appealed to Caesar and was sent by sea to Rome (60 A.D.). Shipwrecked and delayed on the island of Malta, he arrived at Rome in the spring of 61 and passed the next two years in easy confinement before being released. The last years of the saint's life were devoted to missionary excursions, probably including Spain, and to revisiting his first foundations. In 66 he returned to Rome, was taken prisoner, and beheaded a year later. His fourteen letters are a precious legacy; they afford a deep insight into a great soul.
—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patronage: Against snakes; authors; Cursillo movement; evangelists; hailstorms; hospital public relations; journalists; lay people; missionary bishops; musicians; poisonous snakes; public relations personnel; public relations work; publishers; reporters; rope braiders; rope makers; saddlemakers; saddlers; snake bites; tent makers; writers; Malta; Rome; Poznan, Poland; newspaper editorial staff, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Diocese of Covington, Kentucky; Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama; Diocese of Las Vegas, Nevada; Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island; Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts. See the full list at

Symbols and Representation: Book and sword, three fountains; two swords; scourge; serpent and a fire; armour of God; twelve scrolls with names of his Epistles; Phoenix; palm tree; shield of faith; sword; book.
Often portrayed as: Thin-faced elderly man with a high forehead, receding hairline and long pointed beard; man holding a sword and a book; man with 3 springs of water nearby;