Nero Will Be Nero, No Matter What the Century.
The Twelfth Friday of Ordinary Time; or, the Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church.
Lessons from the feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Genesis 17: 1, 9-10, 15-22.
• Psalm 128: 1-5.
• Matthew 8: 1-4.
When a Mass for the Memorial is taken, lessons from the feria as above, or from the proper:
• Romans 8: 31-39.
• Psalm 124: 2-5, 7-8.
• Matthew 24: 4-13.
…or, any lessons from the common of Martyrs for Several Martyrs.
The Third Class Feast of the Commemoration of Saint Paul, Apostle; and, the Commemoration of Saint Peter.*
Lessons from the proper, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Galatians 1: 11-20.
• [Gradual] Galations 2: 8-9.
• Matthew 10: 16-22.
The Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles; the Feast of the Passing of the Blessed Confessor Basil Vsevolod Velchkovsky, Secret Bishop; and, the Feast of the Passing of the Martyr & Priest Zenon Kovalky.
First & third lessons from the menaion for the Apostles, second & fourth from the pentecostarion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• I Corinthians 4: 9-16.
• Romans 11: 25-36.
• Mark 3: 13-19.
• Matthew 12: 1-8.
9:10 AM 6/30/2017 — Yesterday we marked the Solemnity of two of Rome's most eminent martyrs: our first Pope, Saint Peter, and the greatest of the Apostles, Paul. But Rome, as you know, was no stranger to martyrdom, and today's memorial commemorates the countless who died under the reign of the mad emperor, Nero, at around the same time that Peter & Paul met their deaths, around AD 64.
Back in the late '80s, a New Jersey resident, Frank Korn, who had spent a lot of time in Rome, wrote a book about the early Roman martyrs entitled The Tiber Ran Red, published by St. Paul Books and Media. I have no idea if it's still in print; but, if it is, I would highly recommend it.
It's hard for us, fat dumb and happy, to properly visualize what it was like for so many priests, popes and lay people to sacrifice themselves for something as innocuous as not making a sacrifice to some Roman god, but they did, and did so believing it to be a privilege.
Most of us are just beginning to realize that we are entering a new age of martyrdom, and we've spoken about it here before. The persecution and martyrdom of Christians in the Middle East and Asia is reported haphazardly at best; and, here at home, the Church of Christ suffers defeat after defeat at the hands of the forces of secularism. But all those who attempt to kill the Church are the same: they fear the Church because the Church threatens their power over others, regardless of whether they are totalitarian governments seeking more control, or elected officials seeking more power, or slaves of the desires of the flesh seeking to legitimize and protect their perversions. The Church preaches the kingship of Christ alone, thereby guaranteeing the dignity of the human person over any human force that would seek to enslave it. And the arguments put forward by the enemies of Christ are always the same as well: the Church is denounced as intolerant because of her moral teaching; but, the enemies of God are always guilty of what they, themselves, accuse others of being. The Church never persecutes those who reject her way of life; she simply invites them to leave and go their own way. But secularism has no truck with disagreement: everyone must conform or face the consequences, because anyone who does not obey the dogma of modern secularism is a threat to the power and privilege of those who hold high office, and whose self-esteem is wrapped up in their ability to control the lives of those around them. Nero will be Nero, no matter what century it is.
Through the intercession of the martyrs of ancient Rome, may we be encouraged and enlivened with Grace to stand firm and fast before the enemies of truth.
* The Feast of the Commoration of St. Paul is always accompanied by the Commemoration of St. Peter, for which no Mass is available.