“O you of little faith, why did you doubt!” (Mt. 14:31)

As Jesus went up to the mountain by himself to pray, His disciples already were on the boat preceding the Lord to the next location. As the disciples were sailing, the boat began to be tossed about by some strong winds. It was already dark. It was nighttime. Suddenly, the disciples had seen something happening at sea. They become terrified.

Jesus speaks to the disciples: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (14:27) Peter, along with the other disciples on the boat, was not certain what they were seeing. Peter hears and recognizes Jesus’ voice and says: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water.” (v. 28)

The Lord commands Peter to come and so he does. Peter in fact begins to walk on water and goes toward Jesus. How amazing for us to read that not only Jesus walked on water, but so did Peter at first. However, Peter notices how strong the wind was and became frightened and had begun to sink. Peter then cries out: “O Lord, save me!” (v. 30)

Immediately Jesus extends His hand across the sea and rescues Peter. The Lord caught him and prevented Peter from drowning. The Lord is ever ready to help and quickly saves Peter and is ready and able to recue each and every one of us from any and all impending dangers or disasters. The Lord shall hear our plea and provide us with divine aid. The Lord only questioned Peter as to why did he doubt.

Both Jesus and Peter get on the boat. The winds then die down. All those on the boat acknowledge Jesus as the Lord and pay Him homage, saying: “Truly, You are the Son of God.” (v. 33)

Just as the disciples of Our Lord experienced a storm at sea and the strong winds and the turbulence of waves, so can we. And when we do, we should turn to the Lord for divine help. We can become weak physically and/or spiritually. Whatever the need, the Lord God can provide. He is the Omnipotent One, the Almighty.

Whether it be an illness or misunderstanding, dispute or conflict with another, the Lord can provide us with a positive and lasting resolution. Through prayer and our hope and trust in His ability to save and rescue us from evil and all its terrible consequences, we can stand firm in the faith. Let us keep our eyes fixed upon Christ and not to be distracted by the turbulence, the trials and tribulation we may experience here on earth. We stand not alone, but with Christ. As the People of God, we acknowledge the need for discernment, to recognize and acknowledge evil for what it truly is.

Throughout our earthly life, whether at work, at school or at home difficulties may appear as we seek to do good and to have compassion on others in need. Be assured that at all times, we have at least One true and loyal friend, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Let us make Jesus the center of our daily lives. Let us not doubt His ability and readiness to save and rescue.

May we all never question our importance in the eyes of the Lord. Without exception, the Lord truly cares about each of us. He does not ever forget about any one of us. In the words of the holy prophet Isaiah, the Lord God tells us: “I will not forget you. Look! I have written you on the palms of My hand.” (49::15-16)

The Lord God Who knows and sees all shall one day bring us ultimate victory over evil and all the terrible consequences of sin. We confidently await the Day of the Lord, when all wrongs will be made right. Truth and justice shall prevail. And to those who remain faithful to Christ until then shall receive the reward of eternal happiness and joy with Him in Heaven

Rev. D. George Worschak.


Our Ukrainian Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord on August 6th on the Gregorian calendar and on August 19th on the Julian calendar. In the Gospel of St. Matthew we read: “Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light.” (17:1) Sacred Tradition of the early Church, already in the 4th century, identifies the “high mountain” as Mount Tabor. The early Church Fathers had referred to the transfiguration of Our Lord as “His second epiphany” or manifestation of His divinity.

In Eastern Catholic and Orthodox thought, the Transfiguration shows forth humanity in the splendor of its original form.  The Transfiguration reveals the possibility of humanity’s theosis.  Another word for theosis is deification, which is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God.

The tropar for the Prefeast of the Transfiguration tells us that “The Master goes up Mount Tabor to reveal the splendorous beauty of His divinity.” The Kondak for the Prefeast tells us: “Today the whole human race begins to reflect the divine splendor of the transfiguration and with joy cries out: Christ is transfigured, bringing salvation to all.”

The tropar for the Feast tells us that Christ was transfigured on the Mount and showed to His disciples as much of His glory as they could possibly bear.” The kondak for the Feast tells us that “when they look upon Your being crucified, they will understand that You suffer freely … (and) that You are indeed the radiant reflection of the Father.”

It is a tradition in our Church to bless fruit on this Holy Feast. The prayer for the blessing of fruit is done towards the end of the Divine Liturgy. The priest asks the Lord God to be “pleased to accept the offerings of us, Your servants. Place them among Your everlasting treasures. Grant us an abundance of earthly things along with all that is beneficial for our well-being. Bless these fruits. Grant health of soul and body to all who partake of them. For glorified is Your Kingdom and blessed is Your Name, of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever.”

Then with the sprinkling of holy water on the fruits, the priest prays: “These fruits are blessed and sanctified by the sprinkling of this holy water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Rev. D. George Worschak


“Anne, with the wisdom of God you carried in your womb the pure Mother of God, Who gave birth to Life itself. Therefore, you passed into heavenly happiness, the dwelling place of all those who rejoice. Now in glory and joy, you pray for the forgiveness of sins for those who honor you with love, O ever-blessed one.”  (Tropar)

Our Ukrainian Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Dormition of St. Anne on July 25th on the Gregorian calendar and on August 7th on the Julian calendar. St. Anne is a role model for motherhood. We honor her qualities, maternal traits, of love, prayerfulness, perseverance and self-sacrifice. Thereby, many today regard St. Anne  as a patron for all women, but especially for those seeking healing from infertility.

For many years, Anne along with her husband Joachim fervently prayed that God would bless them with the birth of a child. Joachim and Anne were already much older with many giving up hope that they could bear a child. Nonetheless, their prayers remained constant and fervent. And one day, God did grant that Anne would bear a child in her old age. By God’s favor the pious Anne bore in her womb, Mary the Holy Theotokos Who would one day give birth to Life itself, the long-awaited and foretold Messiah, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

The righteous Anne helped prepare Mary to grow and develop in the faith. This Anne did by means of instruction, by word and by example. Her patient reliance upon God enabled Anne to prepare Mary to one day conceive and give birth to Christ, the long-awaited Messiah. And in passing from this life to eternal life, Anne would be counted worthy of entry into the eternal kingdom of Heaven after the Lord opened wide the gates to Heaven following His rising from the dead.

In the words of the Prokimen for the Feast: “God is wonderful in His saints, the God of Israel.”

Rev. D. George Worschak

Saints Borys and Hlib, Princes of Kyiv and Martyrs for the Faith

On July 24th on the Gregorian calendar and on August 6th on the Julian calendar, Our Ukrainian Catholic Church commemorates two princes of the ancient Kyivan state who were among the first to be canonized saints. They were the youngest sons of St. Volodymyr the Great. They chose to rather die for the faith than to engage in battle against their other brother-princes.

Following the death of their father, St. Volodymyr the Great, many of the brother-princes engaged in a battle for the

acquisition of land and title. Unlike the other brothers, they chose not to fight and kill the other. They chose rather to peacefully accept death, martyrdom from their own brother-prince. They accepted death with calmness and a determination to follow the ways of Christ, their Lord and Master.

One of their older brothers, Sviatopolk, had a devious plan to ascend to their father’s throne in Kyiv. First of all, Sviatopolk does not reveal to his brothers the news of the death of their father, Volodymyr the Great. This Sviatopolk contrived would enable him to quickly begin ruling in his father’s place in Kyiv.

One of the brother-princes, Borys, had begun to return home towards Kyiv. Borys on his way back home hears of his father’s death and become saddened and quite upset. The soldiers under Prince Borys’ command had heard of Prince Volodymyr’s death and relay the news, asking Borys to return to Kyiv. The soldiers under Prince Borys’ command wanted this so as to force Sviatopolk out of the city of Kyiv and place Prince Borys on his father’s throne. However, the saintly Prince Borys could not and would not even consider such an action against his brother, Sviatopolk.

Nonetheless, Sviatopolk remained sinister to the very core of his being. His evil intent did not wane. Sviatopolk sent emissaries to his brother at night with the intent to kill Borys. As those who sought to kill Borys approached, the Prince continued praying and made no attempt to run away or escape from the hands of men determined to kill him. The perpetrators of this deadly and vicious deed acted like wild beasts. The death of his brother-prince Borys was not enough for Sviatopolk. His intent was to have all the other brother-princes gotten “out of the way” so that none of them could rival him for their father’s throne. Sviatopolk desired to succeed his father as “Grand Prince of Kyiv.”

Prince Hlib, the youngest of the brother-princes would become the next victim of Sviatopolk’s mad and evil intent. Hlib had been ruling in Murom where his people regarded him as “modest, gentle and humble.” The people loved and greatly respected Prince Hlib.

Sviatopolk sends his brother Hlib a deceptive message that Volodymyr, their father, was ill. When Hlib received the message, he hastened to Kyiv to visit his “ailing” father. But in fact, Volodymyr was already dead. Besides the sad news of the father’s death, Hlib hears about the death of his brother, Borys.

As Hlib was hastening to visit his “ailing” father, Yaroslav, another of the brother-princes informs him that their father Volodymyr had already died. And besides this sad news, Hlib is informed that their brother-prince Borys was also dead. Yarolav also sent a warning to not travel to Kyiv lest he encounter the same vicious and scheming act of Sviatopolk as did Borys. Recall that Sviatopolk wanted to do away with each and every other brother-prince and have no rival or challenge to ascend the throne and become “Grand Prince of Kyiv.”

Nevertheless, Prince Hlib decided to travel to Kyiv where he too accepted martyrdom with calmness and with faith in Christ and compliance with the Gospel’s teaching: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (One of the Beatitudes taught by Christ in Hi Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:9) Both martyred brother-princes Borys and Hlib chose not to become deceptive rulers nor to use violence as a means to an end.

Although Sviatopolk may have been a brother “by blood”, that is of natural origin, most certainly he was not a brother who shared a common faith in Jesus Christ as lord and Master. Ultimately, Sviatopolk did not succeed in ascending to the throne of Volodomyr the Great. The people of Kyiv had rebelled against Sviatopolk and expelled him from the city. It would be Yaroslav who would in the end sit at the throne of Volodymyr, their father.

Following their death circa 1015, the veneration of the princely martyrs Borys and Hlib quickly grew and spread throughout the ancient Kyivan state. The people recognized their courage, fortitude, to remain steadfast in the faith. Already in the year 1072 both Borys and Hlib were officially canonized, recognized as saints of our Church. This veneration continues to this very day in both the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.

Many Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox men have one of them as their patron saint. Archbishop-Metropolitan Borys Gudziak of Philadelphia was named after the saintly martyred prince

“Let it be done for you according to your faith.” (Matthew 9:28-29)

“Do you believe that I can do this?”

“Yes, Lord,”

“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”

(Matthew 9:28-29)

Once again our kind, loving and merciful Lord performs a healing to those in need. Two blind men were following Jesus along the same path and they cry out: “Son of David, have mercy upon us.” (9:27) The two blind call out to Jesus with the Messianic title: “Son of David.” Although physically blind, they possess a spiritual vision and understanding of Who Jesus truly is.

We Christians acknowledge that Jesus is the One of Whom the Prophets in the Old Testament foretold. Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah, Who was to come from the House of David. In the Book of the Holy Prophet Isaiah, we read: “Then the eyes of the blind shall see, and the ears of the deaf be opened; Then the lame shall leap like a stag, and the mute tongue sing for joy. For waters will burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the Arabah.” (35:5-6)

The Chosen People of God, the Israelites, were expecting that one day Yahweh (God) would send a Deliverer from the consequences of the sin, the fall of Adam and Eve. The promised Messiah had in fact come from the lineage of King David. The Evangelist Matthew in chapter one of his Gospel gives to us the genealogy, family tree, of Jesus in detail. The gospels were written after the Resurrection and after the various appearances of the Risen Lord and the Sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.

Nonetheless, there were some during the public ministry of Our Lord who recognized that Jesus was of God and that He had come to save mankind from sin. The blind men had a spiritual vision and understanding that the opponents of Jesus, the Pharisees did not. The Pharisees’ attitude of envy, anger and malice could not and would not allow them to open their eyes spiritually and see Jesus for Who He truly is. The Pharisees sought to explain away the awesome happenings that were never before seen in Israel. So distorted and wrong was their statement that Jesus was able to drive out (expel) the demons since He was the prince of demons.

Just as in Jesus’ time of earthly public ministry, we too today as well as all previous and future generations have the free will to acknowledge and accept Jesus as Our Lord and Savior, the Second Divine Person of the Blessed Trinity. Great and mighty, awesome works may be done in the Name of Jesus the Christ. But faith is what is needed on our part. The healing power of Jesus is always there. But a cure, a physical or spiritual can take effect only in the person(s) have faith. We need to say, as did the two blind men: “Yes, Lord.” We believe that You can do all things since You are the Son of God.

May Our Lord open our eyes, the eyes of faith to help us discern what truly is the Holy Will of Our Heavenly Father. By discerning Truth and Goodness, which come from God, we shall be following the guidance of the Holy Spirit and keep us on the path that leads to the Heavenly Kingdom and eternal life. May we help our neighbor who may be weak and in dire need of assistance lead them not only by word but also and more importantly by our deeds, charitable works of mercy.

In this manner, we shall give glory to God and bring Christ to others. For our Lord God came not to condemn the world, but rather to save the world. Let the goodness of our deeds inspire others to go and do likewise. For we the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, are called to continue the mission of Christ, namely the salvation of souls.

Rev George Worshchak





Many would come to the Lord and seek healing. The request for healing could come from the individual in need, such as the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda or the man born blind. In today’s gospel, it is a group of four men who do “a good deed” and carry the paralytic man on a pallet and then lower the paralytic down through an opening in the roof due to the crowded area and place him right alongside Jesus.

Once again, we hear that it is faith that is needed for the Lord to effect the cure. “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:2) We are to believe that Jesus is Lord, the Son of God, the Messiah Whom the Prophets foretold would come to deliver us from sin and all its evil consequences.

From time to time, we all are in need of healing, whether physical or spiritual or both. Some of us are in greater need and others less. The Lord God Who is the Physician (Healer) of soul and body can provide us with that gift, the grace of healing. We who seek healing are to have faith and co-operate with the grace of God.

There is a Ukrainian saying, proverb, that “Health is wealth.” Along with having good physical health, one is to have a good and healthy outlook on life itself and in dealing with others. Most individuals are ready and willing to “celebrate life” and should be thankful to God for the gift of life and good health. Let’s remember that it is God Who is the source of all goodness.

Physical and spiritual health go together and are interrelated. Spiritual health is to be freed, delivered from sin. Nonetheless, the Lord reminds us that of the two, spiritual health which leads to salvation of soul is to be first and foremost in our daily lives. We may sojourn seeking “the good” here on earth; however, we know that the earthly is temporal and temporary. For us, true-believers, we know and understand that this is not our final or ultimate destination. Rather, we are to walk “the straight and narrow path” leading to the Heavenly City, the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven.

So, whenever pain and suffering come our way and it will, we are to face it not alone but along with Christ. And if our community, church or parish be truly Christian, then our caring for others will be all-inclusive, excluding no one and welcoming all. Christ will truly be in our midst.

St. Paul reminds us Christians that the joy of one is to be the joy of all. But he also reminds us that the ache of one is to be the ache of all. The joy many may be willing and ready to participate and “celebrate” the good times, those without any pain or suffering.

Just as it is a sign of a “true friend” when he or she stands alongside the other in less than easy times, so too it’s a sign of a true Christian and member of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Having the spirit of Christian unity and solidarity the other members of the Mystical Body of Christ could be counted on to the other member in need. The Church community would be able to “lighten” the burden and to make “more bearable” the pain and suffering that individual or individuals encounter. Our love of God and love of neighbor, brother or sister in Christ in need, would be manifest in concrete acts of compassion, charity and mercy.

This spirit of caring is not just a thought or desire. It provides help in the “here and now.” The spiritual and corporal works of mercy are but just some of the good deeds to be done. All in all, it is a work of compassion, suffering along with the other person who is a child of God. This charitable spirit of caring may be shown in the ordinary events of the day. It may be a smile or a kind word which costs us nothing, except a little time and effort to actually do so.

Prayer is always a possibility and can and should be done frequently. We turn and focus our attention to God Who can do all things. With the Lord God, there is nothing impossible. He is the Omnipotent, the All-Powerful, Almighty  God, Who can work “miracles.”

Prayer empowers and enables us to face the challenges and difficulties encountered in the world today and each and every day. With faith, hope and patient endurance, the steadfast Christian remains positive in one’s approach and thinking. This positive attitude prevents any one of us from giving up hope and becoming despondent. We offer up our pains and sufferings along with those of Christ on the Cross Who redeemed mankind of sin.

God does not want us to go it alone in this life. God wants us to turn to Him in the hour of need. But the Lord God also wants and expects us to be sensitive to the needs of our “less fortunate” brother or sister in Christ. Having the spirit of Christ, Total Love and Total Truth, we are ready and willing to do our part in making the world “a better place” for everyone. Our earthly destiny as an individual and as a group depends upon it. Besides all this and moreso, our eternal destiny will so be determined. The Lord, the merciful but just Judge, shall one day determine if each person did or did not show compassion, charity and mercy to the “less fortunate” one in need. And so our eternal destination will be determined – entry into the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven or not.

And this display, manifestation, of a lived faith is required of each of us. For in the words of St. Pope John Paul II of blessed memory stated that “It is our duty to lessen the suffering of those who suffer.”

Keep the faith, live in the spirit of Christ, letting our light shine brightly before men so that they may see the goodness of our deeds. Do this so that many souls may be saved!

Rev. D. George Worschak

Philadelphia Area Rotary Clubs Raise $100k For Ukraine Relief: Event Featured Ukrainian Singers and Speakers

$100,000 raised by local Rotary Clubs in the Delaware Valley is going to help Ukrainians suffering from the war.  More than 150 Rotarians from Southeastern PA District 7450 and their guests attended a “United with Ukraine” fundraiser on June 14th.

The event, held at Lia’s Catering, The Ballrooms at Boothwyn, was highlighted by Slavic cuisine, Ukrainian music, Polka dancing, and powerful speakers, Eugene Luciw, President of the Philadelphia branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) and Michael Sawkiw, Jr., Executive Vice President of UCCA and Director of the Ukrainian National Information Service, the organization’s Washington D.C. bureau.

Luciw gave an informative and impassioned exposition of the unjust, barbaric and inhuman nature of Russia’s heavily armed attack on Ukraine and her people. He also placed Moscow’s brutality into geopolitical perspective and outlined the separate and distinct nature and history of the Ukrainian nation which goes back to the ninth century and pre-dates Russia’s beginnings by approximately 500 years. Sawkiw shared his belief that the U.S. and its allies must provide even more military, economic and humanitarian help than they are currently. One of reasons he cited is that Ukraine is the “breadbasket” of Europe and the world. He said that Russia’s intentional interference with the production and shipping of Ukraine’s grain around the globe could readily cause a world-wide famine.

Rotary District 7450 Governor Roger Taylor emceed the evening.  Poland’s District Governor-Elect, Piotr Jankowski and Ukraine’s District Governor Volodymyr Bondarenko spoke on video, thanking attendees for their support but also pleading for more help.  “The war is far from over.  We have to buy a lot of food now to prepare for winter.” said Jankowski.

Volunteers from 50 Rotary clubs in the Philadelphia area organized the event to raise money for a special relief fund created to help Ukrainians impacted by the Russian attacks. Rotary District 7450 is working directly with Poland’s Rotary District in a coordinated “on the ground” response to the worsening humanitarian crisis. Event proceeds will be used to purchase food, clothing, medical supplies, generators, transportation, and accommodations.

The “United with Ukraine” event was an extension of the original fundraising initiative to help Ukraine that began shortly after the war broke out.   Philadelphia Rotary member Ken Myers called a long-time club member, Joan Batory and said, “We have to do something. I don’t know what that is or looks like, but we have to mobilize support to provide aid and assistance.”

Batory directed Myers to contact Rotary Clubs in Poland saying, “I knew that the clubs were severely impacted by the enormous number of refugees pouring into Poland. If anyone was getting anything done, it had to be the Rotarians there!”

A centerpiece of the June fundraiser was a video appearance by Borys Gudziak, Archbishop of the Philadelphia Ukrainian Catholic Church. Gudziak spoke about Rotary’s important humanitarian role in helping Ukraine during this crisis. He spoke of Russian President Putin’s feeling threatened by Ukraine’s freedom and diversity.    Said the Archbishop, “Ukraine had a “virus,” democracy, from the point of view of oligarchic Russia so Putin made a decision to protect the autocracy by killing the “germ” of democracy in Ukraine, trying to crush it.”

The most moving part of the evening was when Ukrainian performer, Yuliya Stupen, led the singing of the national anthems of the United States and Ukraine, while everyone stood at attention. Emcee Roger Taylor read the English translation of the anthem before Stupen sang in Ukrainian.

“Ukraine has not perished
Nor her glory; nor her freedom
Upon us Fellow Ukrainians
Fate shall smile once more
Our enemies will vanish
Like dew in the morning Sun
And we too shall rule brothers
In a free land of our own
We will lay down our souls and our bodies
To attain our Freedom
And we’ll show that we are Brothers
From the Kozak Heritage.”

The night was capped off by an exciting live auction led by Rotary Peace Scholar and Honorary member of the Philadelphia Rotary club, D.F. Pace. The live and silent auctions raised an additional $25,000 for needed generators, medical backpacks, and pantry items. Pace’s “day job” is an Inspector in the Philadelphia Police Department but he has also been trained and certified as a professional auctioneer.

All proceeds from the event go to the Ukrainian Relief Fund of the Gundaker Foundation of Rotary District 7450. From there the funds get sent to a special account in Poland used by local aid workers to respond to the needs of Ukrainians now in Poland and those still in their homeland.  Donations are still being accepted at www.Gundaker.org/Ukraine.

By Lisa Leonard

Feast of Peter and Paul – June 29, 2022

The Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul on June 29 commemorates the two leading apostles and their martyrdoms in Rome. This article examines their origins, deaths, and relics. It is vital to remind ourselves periodically that our faith is grounded in history and has been handed down for twenty centuries.

Peter and Paul offer a striking contrast. One hailed from the backwaters of Galilee and spoke with an accent thought uncouth by more cosmopolitan Jerusalemites (Matthew 26:43). He had been with the Lord from the beginning. The other was a Roman citizen who knew the traditions of Greek rhetoric and philosophy and met Jesus only after the Resurrection. Peter and Paul were very different men called to Apostleship at very different moments. The two even argued at times, as we read in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. Nonetheless they shared profound devotion to Christ which helped the men lead the Church during a critical period of growth and persecution. This same growth and persecution would bring them to martyrdom in the Eternal City.

Two Men, Several Names

St. Peter’s birthname was Simon, but Jesus renamed him Cephas early in his ministry. Cephas means “rock” in Aramaic–the native tongue of Jesus and the Apostles–and the word comes into Greek and Latin as Petros and Petrus. These are ancient versions of our modern Peter. At various times throughout the gospels, he is called Simon, Simon Peter, and Peter.Peter had a brother named Andrew, also one of the Twelve. Peter and Andrew’s father, John or Jonah, appears to have had a fishing business for which his sons worked. Interestingly, the Apostles James and John likely worked for their father Zebedee’s fishing business too. John/Jonah and Zebedee may have been in business together, judging from Mark 1. We know Peter was married because in the same chapter Jesus heals his mother-in-law from a fever.

Saul or Paul was born in Tarsus, located in modern Turkey. Some have tried to interpret the Apostle’s two names theologically, arguing he went by “Saul” before his conversion and “Paul” afterwards, but this is unlikely. Saul was probably his Hebrew name, used among family and fellow Jews, while Paul was his Roman moniker, used for gentile contexts. Regardless, Paul was a Pharisee whose trade was leather-working and/or tent-making, and he seems to have had at least some formal education. Paul persecuted the Church until encountering the Risen Christ on the Road to Damascus.

Rome’s Christians before Peter and Paul

Peter and Paul were active in Jerusalem, Antioch, and elsewhere before making their respective ways to Rome. They did not establish the Christian community there, though they would eventually lead it. Interestingly, St. Ignatius of Antioch invokes the legacy of Peter and Paul’s apostolic authority in Rome in a missive to the city’s Christians dictated before he was fed to lions ca. 110.

The Christian community in Rome originated incredibly early, even by New Testament standards. It predates Paul’s Epistle to the Romans which was written ca. 56-58 as well as the Apostle’s first visit to the city ca. 59. We also know Emperor Claudius (r. 41-54) expelled Jews from Rome after much infighting over “Chrestus,” seemingly a Latinized version of χριστός or Christ (Cf. Suetonius and Acts 18:2). Thus, Christians appear in Rome no later than the early 50s, if not earlier. This would make sense because there were about a dozen synagogues in the city during the 1st century. The primitive Church’s growth often took place in Jewish temples, so these surely helped the Gospel to spread. Peter’s timing in Rome is unclear, he may only have arrived in the early 60s. Much has been written about the Apostles’ missionary activities, but we must fast forward to the period when they were killed.

Persecution and Martyrdom

The best estimation of Peter’s death in Rome is AD 64. Rome suffered an infamous fire in July of that year and most of the city burned. From the historian Tacitus (ca. 56-120) we know “only four of the fourteen districts of Rome remained intact. What was even more disastrous was that numerous public buildings were damaged or even destroyed.” (Keresztes, 1984) Many blamed Emperor Nero (r. 54-68) for the fire, who then scapegoated the city’s Christians. The resulting persecution created many martyrs, including St. Peter. Multiple traditions describe him as having been crucified, with at least one specifying he was upside down. This explains for example Caravaggio’s masterpiece, Crucifixion of Saint Peter.

Tertullian (ca. 155-220) tells us Paul was beheaded, but neither he nor any other source settles the question of when. Paul may have died in 64 along with Peter during the Neronian persecution or a few years later ca. 67. The exact dates of martyrdom for Ss. Peter and Paul are irrelevant, of course, but this has not prevented much scholarly conjecture. Moreover, what we lack in chronology we more than make up for in archaeology.

Finding the Saints in the Flesh

Many Catholics do not realize that St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed over the tomb of the Apostle himself. In fact, the main altar stands directly over Simon-Peter’s relics. The ground level of the Basilica is most familiar to the popular mind, containing some of the greatest works of art in Christendom like Michelangelo’s Pietà, the Baldachin designed by Bernini, and others. Two floors below is an archaeological site straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.

In a dark, damp environment, nearly 10 meters underneath the Basilica, are the tombs and monuments of a 1st century pagan cemetery. It was here that St. Peter’s bones were laid to rest. Ancient graffiti attests to the Apostle’s presence, mentioning his name again and again. One example is a happy note carved by someone “expressing joy that the lost relative lay in the same cemetery that held Peter’s own body.” Constantine the Great constructed Old St. Peters over this site in the 4th century where it stood for more than a thousand years until the present Basilica was constructed during the 16th and 17th centuries. Anyone can visit the site by purchasing a ticket for the Scavi (“Excavations”) Tour, the cost is very reasonable at around $16.50.

Paul’s relics aren’t far away. San Paolo fuori le Mura (literally “St. Paul outside the walls”) is located about 4 miles (6.5 km) south of the Vatican, just east of the Tiber. The main altar of St. Paul Outside the Walls, as with St. Peter’s Basilica, was constructed over the remains of the Apostle himself. These remains are contained in a late 4th century sarcophagus which is quite accessible and may be viewed after descending a small set of stairs. Also on display is the chain said to have bound St. Paul when he was arrested in Rome.


The leading Apostles, Ss. Peter and Paul, ministered in Rome and were killed there during the mid-60s. They may both have died in 64 during the Neronian persecution, or Paul may have been beheaded a few years later. Regardless of the exact dating, their martyrdoms are jointly commemorated by the Church on June 29 each year. Their relics have been venerated in Rome from antiquity through today and may even be visited by the public.

This brief investigation into the saints’ origins, deaths, and relics is an important exercise reminding us that our faith is grounded in history. We may be confident in the accuracy of what has been handed down to us. Our Lord lived, died, and rose–and He will come again in glory. Many saints over many centuries, including Peter and Paul, willingly gave their lives for these truths, and still more will follow in the future. Ss. Peter and Paul, pray for us!

By Sean McLaughlin




Keresztes, Paul, “Nero, the Christians and the Jews in Tacitus and Clement of Rome,” Latomus

  1. 43, Fasc. 2 (AVRIL-JUIN 1984), pp. 404-413


The Feast of Pentecost

Already in Old Testament times, we hear of a celebration of Pentecost, which started as a harvest festival.  Later to this was added the commemoration of the giving of the Mosaic Law on Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments were given by Yahweh (God) to Moses to help the Chosen People, the Israelites to remain faithful to the covenant established between Yahweh and their father, Abraham. The Mosaic Law was given so they could lead good and moral lives.

The Christian celebration of Pentecost in the early Church, both East and West, was a commemoration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Just as the Lord had promised His disciples before departing and ascending into Heaven, He would ask the Father to send them another Advocate Who would continue to guard, guide and protect the faithful followers of Christ from all the onslaughts of the evil one.

We honor the third Divine Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, Who is a Spirit of Love and Truth. He is God Eternal, one in being with the Father and the Son. He is consubstantial. Here as at the Theophany, the Baptism of the Lord in the River Jordan, God reveals Himself as the Triune God, one God in three Divine Persons.

The account in the event in the life of the Apostles is recorded in Sacred Scriptures, in the acts of the Apostles, chapter 2. We read: “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.” (v. 1-6} In verses 32-33, we read of Peter in public speaking: God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses. Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you (both) see and hear.”

Pentecost is one of the twelve (12) major feasts of the liturgical year. On this Feast, the Church, both in the East and in the West celebrate the Birth of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. In the administering of each of the seven (7) sacraments (Sacred Mysteries), we receive sanctifying grace, the operation of the Holy Spirit. The grace imparted strengthens us in our daily lives, helping us to withstand the temptations of the evil one and to keep us firmly rooted in the Faith and on the path to the Heavenly Kingdom, which is the final destination, we pray that we be deemed worthy of one day

In our special prayer in honor of the Holy Spirit, we call Him: “Heavenly King, Giver of Life, Comforter, Spirit of Truth Who is present everywhere.” The Holy Spirit is the source, the Treasury of Blessings and the Giver and Sustainer of Life.  The Holy Spirit will cleanse us of all sin, all that stains the soul and impedes us from our God-given call and mission in life. The prayer is a call to save us.

The Icon of Pentecost is a depiction of the Twelve Apostles (12) seated in serenity and composure. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a seal of the New Covenant wrought by Our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ. In the icon, the Apostles form a semi-circle, expressing the unity of the Church. We, the many members of the Mystical Body of Christ, comprise one Church. Christ is the invisible head of the Church.  We Christians through a worthy reception of the Eucharist are then to bring Christ to others, announcing to them the Good News of salvation.

We all have been created in the image and likeness of God. We have all been endowed with unique and special gifts, charisms and talents. This is so that we fulfill our God-given mission in life. The seven (7) gifts of the Holy Spirit are an enumeration of seven spiritual gifts first found in the Book of Isaiah and later commented in much detail by the patristic fathers. They are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians tells us what a life filled with the Holy Spirit is. In Chapter 13, verses 4-7, St. Paul speaks in terms of what Christian love or charity is: “Love is patient. Love is kind. It is not jealous. It is not inflated. It is not rude. It does not seek its own interests. It is not quick-tempered. It does not brood over injury. It does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

The Church enumerates the spiritual and corporal works of mercy as a practical guide to good Christian living. The spiritual works of mercy are: counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, comforting the sorrowful, forgiving injuries, bearing wrongs patiently and praying for the living and the deceased. The corporal works of mercy are: to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to give shelter to travelers, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, and to bury the dead.

Heeding the words of Our Lord and Master, we as a group and individually care, show compassion, and manifest our belief through concrete acts of love, mercy and compassion, even to the so-called “least of the brethren.” That means, we tear down the barriers of prejudice and sin and manifest love for those who oppose us, dislike us, persecute us, causing us grief, sorrow, and suffering.

To love those who love us should be rather easy. But to love those who have caused us immeasurable pain, suffering and loss of health, property or good name is not easy. It can only be done by those of us who are steadfast in the faith and have placed Christ God in the center of our lives. This inner spirit of peace, joy and blessed assurance of a future inheritance yet to be fulfilled that give us the strength and the impetus to walk in the footsteps of Christ and remain “faithful and true,” even when manyare not.

In Baptism, we are no longer mere persons of natural descent, but rather we have become children of God, and inheritors of a divine and eternal Kingdom, Heaven, if we but remain faithful to Christ, serve Him in love and truth as we sojourn to this ultimate and final destination.

Rev. D. George Worschak

Pentecost is one of the most important moments in salvation history

This year Pentecost will take place June 5 (Gregorian Calendar) and June 12 (Julian Calendar). It is one of the most important liturgical feasts and signifies the Easter season’s end. It is also traditionally considered the Church’s birthday. We have St. Luke to thank for most of our knowledge of Pentecost which he describes in the last chapter of his Gospel and at the beginning of his second work, the Acts of the Apostles.

The word Pentecost derives from the Greek for fifty. The feast “always occurs 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and ten days after his ascension into heaven.” (Source: CNA) The order of events is critical: RESURRECTION, ASCENSION, and PENTECOST.

The Lord appeared to the apostles for forty days after he rose from the dead. (Luke 24:3) The apostles saw, conversed with, ate with, and even touched Jesus during this time! One morning, for example, He makes breakfast for them on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. (John 21) After forty days Jesus ascends to the Father (Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:6-12), and Pentecost takes place another ten days after that.

Luke sets the scene in chapter 1 of Acts of the Apostles. The founding members of the Church are staying in Jerusalem and remain devoted to prayer. These include the apostles, some women disciples, the Theotokos, and Jesus’ brothers.

Then in chapter 2 we read, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.” (Acts 2:1-6)

The descent of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by wind and fire, sparks the Church’s birth and evangelizing mission. In fact, Luke notes that about 3000 people were baptized the same day. (Acts 2:41) Jesus’ promise to send the Advocate is fulfilled (John 16:5-33), and repentance and salvation spread abundantly.

Pentecost has inspired profoundly beautiful art and liturgy over the centuries. For example, Bernini’s stained-glass window, located behind the Chair of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica, depicts the Holy Spirit as a beautiful dove hovering amidst fiery illumination.

Also in Rome, just 1.25 miles (2 km) east of the Vatican, stands the ancient Pantheon. The structure was built ca. AD 126 as a pagan temple but was converted to a church by the early 7th century. Each year on Pentecost rose pedals are dropped from the large opening in the ceiling to symbolize the Holy Spirit’s descent. This is called “la pioggia di petali di rosa” which translates to shower or rain of rose petals. (Source: LAJ)

Pentecost is one of the most important moments in salvation history and so is beautifully commemorated in art and liturgy. Luke the Evangelist preserves details about this wonderous event in his second work, the Acts of the Apostles. Let us renew our familiarity with his account and ask God to strengthen us in the Holy Spirit.

By Sean Mclaughlin