Archive for January, 2010

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

January 25, 2010

God created man and woman in His own image and likeness. God made us for Himself; He made us to know Him and to love Him and to be happy with Him forever. Ever since sin entered the world, knowing and loving God has become more difficult. Sin darkens our understanding. The more we sin the less we realize the negative effects that it has upon us. Have you ever done something and then thought: “That was stupid, why did I do/say that?” Sin makes it harder to know Truth. Sin makes it more difficult to think clearly.

Sin also weakens our will. Once a sin is committed, it is easier to sin again. The first time someone commits a serious sin, they feel really bad about it. The second time, they might only feel a little bad about it. Eventually, they have a hard time feeling bad about the sin at all, even though they know that sin is wrong. Or they might even convince themselves that the sin isn’t really a sin; with a weakened will and a darkened intellect it becomes easy to justify all sorts of sinful behavior.
When we justify sin and refuse to repent, we start down a very slippery slope. Eventually small sins can lead to bigger sins. When a sin goes un-repented and is repeated often it easily becomes a habit, and habits are very difficult to break; and in this way, a person can become a slave to sin. Sin enslaves and leads to misery because sin separates us from God and we can never be really happy apart from God.

Our culture today will tell you that the opposite is true. Society will tell you that our Catholic Faith is just a man-made set of rules that is put together in order to control you. Just the reverse is true. First of all, our Faith is not invented: God revealed it to us Himself in Jesus Christ. Second: it is only in Jesus Christ that we have real freedom. True freedom is not about doing whatever I want whenever I want as much as I want. True freedom means being free to choose right and reject wrong. True freedom enables me to live as I was created to live: as a child of God. If someone has developed a sinful habit, they are not really free. Many people find it very difficult to break out of sinful habits, even when they realize that the sinful habit is making them unhappy.

Ever since sin entered the world, God has promised a Savior: One Who would save us from sin. The people of Jesus’ day had been waiting for that Savior for thousands of years. Every Prophet of the Old Testament predicted His coming. Everything in the Old Testament pointed forward to the day when God would send a Savior. The people prayed and longed for that Savior to come and set them free. Once we understand that cultural context, we can better understand what a dramatic scene today’s Gospel must have been. Try to imagine it: the synagogue was full of people. Jesus was handed a scroll; He opened it and read the passage that we just heard. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . He has anointed me to bring glad tidings . . . He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives . . . to let the oppressed go free . . . to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” The people were undoubtedly familiar with those passages; they knew that those prophecies that Jesus had read, from the Book of Isaiah, were prophecies about that long-awaited, promised Savior. Then Jesus told the crowd that what was promised from the beginning of the human race and throughout the Old Testament, was fulfilled in their presence that day. The Savior that was looked-for for thousands of years was right there in their presence. Jesus was telling them that He, Himself, is the one that they had been waiting for. He is the Savior; He has come at last to set them and us free. Imagine how excited the people must have been. At long last, there would be freedom!

Now the people of Jesus’ day misunderstood what that liberty that Jesus proclaimed meant. They were hoping to be set free from political oppression. In another place in the Gospel, we know that the crowd wanted to take Jesus and make Him king. Jesus doesn’t want to be king of a country; He wants to be King of each person’s heart. Jesus came to free us from the spiritual oppression of sin and eternal death. Jesus Christ came to show us the way to God so that we can live in the way that we were created to live: as sons and daughters of God.

Jesus came so that we can have life and have it in abundance. He came to fully revealed God to us. Jesus showed us how much God loves us by dying for us. Jesus gave us the Sacraments and the Church to assist us on our journey; they are gifts that Jesus gave to us that help us grow closer to God. We have all heard people say that they want to live life to the full; and by that, they mean all sorts of different things. Jesus Christ says that He is the Life. He still offers that freedom that we heard about in the Gospel to us. Jesus wants us to be free from sin. He wants to give us the grace to break out of sinful habits. He wants to liberate us from slavery to sin so that we can live in the way that we were created to live: with hearts full of love for God and for others.

Through regular use of the Sacraments and through prayer, we can achieve that freedom that we were all created for. When we love God with all our hearts, and others as ourselves, then we will find true freedom and fulfillment. We need to root sin out of our lives to make a more acceptable dwelling place in our hearts for our God. God wants all of our heart; and our hearts will always be restless until they rest in God. Let us ask God to help us to live and love as we were created to: Lord Jesus Christ, help us to love you with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our strength. Help us to love others for love of You. Give us the grace, Lord, to root sin out of our lives and to live in the freedom for which you created us. May we make of our hearts an acceptable dwelling place for You. Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine. Amen.

January 24th

January 21, 2010

The prayer that immediately follows the memorial acclamation is a prayer by which the priest offers to God the sacrifice that has just become present upon our altar. The prayer says that from the many gifts that God has given to us, we offer this holy and perfect sacrifice back to God: the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation.

There are two points within this prayer that I would like to reflect upon. First: all things are a gift from God. What do we have, that we have not received? (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:7) Every good gift comes to us from the hand of God. (cf. James 1:17) God gives us so many blessings in our lives; it is only fitting that we offer something back to Him, in order to show our gratitude and our love.

By virtue of our Baptism, each and every one of us shares in the priestly office of Christ. We are all to make of ourselves an offering to God. The ordained priesthood was instituted specifically to serve and assist all members of the Church. At Mass, the priest offers back to God the greatest gift that He ever gave to us: the gift of His Son. The priest offers the Sacrifice that Jesus made of Himself to the Father and we are all called to unite ourselves with that sacrifice and offer ourselves with and through Christ to the Father.

The second interesting thing about this prayer is the language that it uses to refer to the recently consecrated Body and Blood of Our Lord. The prayer refers to the Body of our Lord as the “bread” and the Blood of Our Lord as the “cup”. The Church teaches us that after the Consecration, the only part of the bread and wine that remain are the appearances (taste, smell, etc.). Why, then does the prayer (given to us by the Church) talk about “bread” after the Consecration and focus on the “cup” instead of on the Precious Blood?

The Church reminds us that we often refer to things by their appearance. (cf. CT 2200) In the book of Genesis, Abraham encountered three Angels. After the author of Genesis tells us that they are Angels, they are subsequently referred to more than once as “men”. (cf. Genesis 18) The Angels are called “men” because they have the appearance of men.

The same thing can easily happen when we speak of the Body of the Lord. It continues to have the appearance of bread and therefore the prayer refers to the “bread of life”. So, too, we speak of the “cup” because that is what we see; we know, of course, that the cup is not what is important, but That which the cup contains: the Precious Blood of Our Lord.

God bless,
Father White

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

January 17, 2010

Our Lord’s attendance at the Wedding Feast in Cana teaches us many things. The Church tells us that Our Lord’s presence at this Wedding Feast sanctifies marriage. Our Lord raised marriage up to the dignity of a Sacrament. A Sacrament is an outward sign which conveys grace. Grace is the participation in the very life of the Most Holy Trinity. Through the Sacrament of marriage, the Lord conveys His grace, His life, to those who receive it. The Sacrament of marriage is meant to assist those who receive it to draw nearer to God; that is the whole purpose of the Sacraments: they are meant to bring us into a closer union with God.

Marriage is a holy thing: it is a God-given calling. It is meant to be a sign on earth of the love that Jesus Christ has for His bride, the Church. If you are married, the love that you and your spouse have for each other is meant to be an image of what Christ’s love is like: the love between a husband and his wife is a sign of God’s love, and that love is total, self-giving, and self-sacrificial.

Our culture, in this day and age, has a very distorted idea of what marriage is. Marriage is often viewed, by our society, as a contract; it is thought of as a man-made institution that can be re-defined, altered and ended at will. Marriage is not an invention of man: God created marriage from the very beginning. Marriage was part of God’s plan for man and woman from the time that He created them: the two were meant to become one flesh, they were meant to be fruitful and multiply. That is God’s plan from the beginning.

Man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God; and God has existed from all eternity as a Community of love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were made in the image of love and we were made for love. We were made to love God above all things and we were made to love others. Ever since sin entered the world, it has become a struggle to live as were made to live. We have commandments because of sin: we have commandments because we fail to live according to the purpose for which we were made: we fail to love. All of the commandments given to us by God and by the Church are attempts at getting us to live as God made us to live.

Our culture has a tendency to view laws as mere restrictions placed upon freedoms. There are many in our society, today, who talk about rights and freedoms as if they were the most important things. Laws are viewed negatively because laws seem to put arbitrary limits on freedom. God’s laws are not random restrictions of freedoms: God gives us laws in order to help us live according to our nature. When someone ignores these laws, they become unhappy because they are not living according to the way that they were created. The laws that God provides help us to know God’s plan for us and help us to follow His will. These laws connect us with the truth about how we were created, Who God IS, and how we are to respond to Him; and these truths lead to true freedom.

We were created for love and real love doesn’t try to find loopholes: real love doesn’t even need laws. True love does not calculate. Love doesn’t ask how far it can push and still be in the realm of venial sin. Love does not ask how much is required nor does it count the cost: love can give nothing less than its entire self. That is the nature of love; that is the nature of God. Jesus said if we loved God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves, we would already be fulfilling the law: the law is only trying to get us to love. We are called to love God with all our hearts and all our minds and with all our strength. We are called to return the love that God freely pours out upon us. God gives us everything that we have; He gives us the gift of Himself in the Eucharist at each and every Mass. God does not hold back anything from us: He allows His own Son to be crucified in order to save us from sin and death. He gave us His own beloved Son and He wants us to love Him in return.

The miracle that Jesus performed at the Wedding Feast of Cana is a demonstration of what God’s love for us is like. When God provides, He doesn’t just give us a little; He gives us superabundance. Twenty to thirty gallons is a LOT of wine! Multiply that times six. Moreover, it was not just any old wine: it was good wine; better wine than the wine they had before.

God is more than generous with us; and we are called to imitate that generosity as we return that love. God has done so much for us: He created us, He redeemed us, and He desires that we attain everlasting life with Him forever in the world to come. All the good things that we have in our lives come from the hand of God and we have done absolutely nothing to deserve any of them. In order to thank God we can, and should, offer back to Him everything that He has given to us: we can make an offering of ourselves, and all that we have to God. There isn’t anything that we can give to God, strictly speaking, of course: He doesn’t need anything. Nevertheless, God is pleased by our desire to offer back to Him what He has given to us. The gift that we bring is not what is most important: it is the heart with which we offer that counts. God can do great things even with the poor gifts. The servants in today’s Gospel brought plain water and Jesus made an abundance of good wine. In another Gospel, a boy brought forward a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread and the Lord used them to feed thousands. At Mass, bread and wine are brought forward and placed upon the altar and God uses them to feed us with Himself. When we give everything to God, He can do great things through us. Let us renew our resolution to rid ourselves of sin and love God with all our heart. Lord, enflame our hearts with love; help us to love you above all things and not count the cost. Amen.

January 17th

January 17, 2010

Last week, we looked at the Epiclesis and what happens during the Consecration; this week, we shall look at the Consecration itself.
The Consecration begins with what is known as the “institution narrative”: the narrative tells what Jesus did at the Last Supper and the priest imitates what he describes in the narrative. For example, the priest says that Jesus took bread and looked up to Heaven while giving the Father thanks and praise. As the priest says these words he, himself, takes the bread and looks up.

This acting out, as it were, of the institution narrative is meant to convey to us that the priest is “standing in” for Jesus. During the Mass, the priest stands in persona Christi: in the person of Christ. It is Jesus Christ Himself Who acts through the priest during the Mass. That is why the priest says: “This is my body” and not “This is the body of Jesus.”
After the words of institution, by which the bread has been changed into Christ’s body, the priest holds the Lord’s body up high so that all can see and adore Him. He then replaces the consecrated Host onto the paten and genuflects as a sign of his own adoration.

The Consecration of the wine takes place in much the same way. As the priest narrates the fact that Jesus took the cup at the end of the Last Supper, he takes the chalice into his hands. He bows and repeats the very words of Jesus over the chalice and then holds it aloft for all to adore. He sets the chalice down and then makes his own act of adoration towards the Precious Blood.

The priest then invites all of us to “proclaim the mystery of faith.” This part of the Mass is known as the “memorial acclamation” and it is meant to commemorate three things: it should remind us of what Christ has done for us, what He is doing for us, and what He will do for us.
This acclamation calls to our minds that Christ has died for us. Almost two thousand years ago, Christ became a man and died in order to free us from sin and death.

Beyond just remembering the past, we further call to mind, by this acclamation, the fact that the offering that Jesus made of Himself continues to be offered upon our altars. The Eucharist is the same offering that was made upon Calvary: it is the un-bloody re-presentation of the one Sacrifice that Jesus made of Himself to the Father.
Finally, the memorial acclamation has us recall the fact that we are still waiting for Christ to come again. The Mass is only a foreshadowing of our eternal destiny: Heaven, where, we will be united with Our Lord forever. We are all waiting for Our Lord to come in His glory.

God bless,
Father White

Baptism of the Lord 2010

January 10, 2010

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord.  Strictly speaking, the Lord did not need to be baptized, of course.  Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.  He was perfectly without sin and therefore had no need to be baptized.  In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear that Saint John the Baptist protests when the Lord comes to Him to be baptized.  The Lord says that it is fitting for Him to fulfill all righteousness.  In other words, even though He is without sin, He allows Himself to be baptized as an example for us.  The Christian rite of Baptism has a beautiful prayer which says that the waters of Baptism were sanctified by Christ when He was baptized.

We also know that Saint John’s baptism differed from Christian Baptism.  Saint John the Baptist himself says that he only baptizes with water, but One is coming Who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  The baptism that Saint John was administering was only a sign of repentance.  The Baptism that we receive into Christ is not a mere sign of repentance; it really takes our sin away.

After Christ is baptized, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit descends upon Him and the voice of the Father is heard saying that He is well pleased with His Son.  Through our Baptism, we become sons and daughters of God.  When someone is baptized, the Holy Spirit descends to dwell within his or her soul; the newly baptized person becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Another thing that happened at our Baptism is that we all became members of the mystical body of Christ.  In Baptism, we die and rise with Christ.  In Baptism, we receive a mark on our souls that cannot be removed and that mark is a sign that we belong to Jesus Christ.  When we are baptized, we are baptized into the death and Resurrection of Christ, and as a result we share in His threefold office of Priest, Prophet and King.  As we are united and conformed to Christ in our Baptism, we are given a share in these three offices.

A priest is someone who is set apart to serve God.  The way that a priest serves God is by offering sacrifice.  The sacrifice that Jesus made to God was the sacrifice of Himself upon the Cross.  By virtue of our Baptism, we are all a priestly people; we are all set apart to serve the Lord and to offer sacrifice to God.  Each and every one of us is called to imitate Jesus and offer the gift of ourselves to God.  Just as He offered Himself upon the Cross, so too we are to offer ourselves up to God.  Jesus said that if we would be His disciples, we have to take up our cross and follow Him.  We can all offer to God our daily work, our sufferings, our private prayers, our thoughts, our joys, our anxieties.  We are all called to imitate Jesus Christ and offer everything we have and all that we are back to God.  That is what it means to love God with all our minds, all our hearts, and all our strength.

A prophet is one who announces God’s message to others.  Jesus fully reveals God to us: He reveals God by His words, by His actions, ultimately by His death.  By dying on the Cross, He shows us the depth of God’s love for us.  We too are called to share in the prophetic mission of Christ.  We are called to share the Good News that God has sent us a Savior.  That does not mean that we need to preach to everyone that we meet; but Scripture does say that we are always to be ready to give reasons for the hope that is within us.  (1 Peter 3:15)  We preach loudest by our actions.

Finally, we know that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He reigns in Heaven at the right hand of the Father.  While on earth, however, He said that He did not come to be served, but to serve.  We are destined to reign forever with Christ in Heaven.  Yet while we are on this earth, we must follow the example that He gave to us.  Through Baptism, we have become a royal priestly people; but that does not mean that we are to think ourselves better than others.  Christ is Our King and yet He washed the feet of His disciples.  If we wish to reign with Him in Heaven, we have to follow the example that He set for us while on earth.  We have to love one another as He has loved us.

Let us ask Our Lord to give us the grace that we need to live out these three offices ever more faithfully: Lord Jesus, we thank you for the gift of our Faith; we ask you to help us to conform our hearts ever more completely to Yours.  Help us, Lord, to live out faithfully the mission that we have received at our Baptism.  May we live out the offices that we have received in a way that is most pleasing to You.  Amen.

January 10th

January 8, 2010

As we continue our look at the first Eucharistic Prayer, we arrive now at the Epiclesis.  Epiclesis is a Greek word which means “invocation”.  At this part of the Mass the priest stretches out his hands over the gifts and invokes the Holy Spirit.  The priest calls upon the Holy Spirit to descend upon the gifts that they may be miraculously transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

The Epiclesis immediately precedes the Consecration (in the Roman rite).  The Consecration is the part of the Mass where the priest takes the bread and the wine and pronounces over them the words spoken by Our Lord at the Last Supper.  At the words of institution the bread and the wine cease to exist: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ are made truly present under the appearances of the bread and the wine.

This transformation (known as Transubstantiation) that takes place at every Mass is a great mystery, yet we know that it is true because Jesus told us that it was true.

Towards the end of the sixth chapter of Saint John’s Gospel, Jesus taught the crowds that He, Himself, was the Bread that came down from Heaven.  He taught the crowd that they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have life within them.  The crowd murmured at His teaching.  Jesus did not back down; in fact, He repeated Himself again and again.

Eventually, the crowd could bear it no more.  Many of His disciples followed Him no more.  Instead of stopping them from leaving Him, He let them go.  He then turned to the Twelve, those who had been with Him from the beginning of His ministry; those upon whom He was to build His Church.  He asked them if they would leave Him also.  Saint Peter spoke up: “Master, to whom shall we go?”  In other words: What you are saying is hard to understand but if you said it, it must be true; you have the words of everlasting life.  (cf. John 6:35-69)

Further proof of the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist comes from the Last Supper itself.  Jesus Christ is God and therefore His words are effective.  When He told the paralytic to “Get up and walk” the paralytic was healed.  (cf. Mark 2:1-12)  When Jesus told the man with the withered hand to stretch it out, the man’s withered hand was restored.  (cf. Matthew 12:13) At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread and said “This IS my body.”  What a wondrous gift: that Our God would feed us with Himself!

God bless,

Father White

Epiphany 2010

January 3, 2010

Today we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany, the Feast by which we commemorate the fact that the Salvation of our God is for all the nations.  Throughout the Old Testament, we hear of how God spoke to His Chosen People, the Jews, through the Prophets.  In the fullness of time, God sent His own Son, born of the Virgin Mary, in order to fully reveal Himself, not just to His Chosen People, but to the whole world.  The three Magi were the first non-Jews to adore the Word-made-flesh, Emmanuel: God-with-us.

The Magi found the child with Mary His mother and they prostrated themselves before Him and adored Him.  They saw a baby with His mother and they fell down and worshipped.  God alone is worthy of our worship.  We do well to venerate the Blessed Mother and the Saints, but worship is something that is due to God alone.  The First of the Ten Commandments demands that we put no other god before the One, True God.  As the Magi beheld the child, they perceived one thing with their bodily eyes, and another thing with the eyes of their minds.  With their bodily eyes, they saw a newborn infant, but they knew that it was God that they adored.  It would have been pointless for the Magi to offer their adoration to a mere infant; an infant would have been unable to comprehend their worship; yet the Magi knew that there was more to this child than what they could see with their eyes.  They worshipped the baby before them knowing that He was God; God Who knows all things and comprehends all things and alone is deserving of all our love.

We are to adore God in the way that He is pleased to reveal Himself to us.  The Magi knew Him to be God, even though their senses told them that what they beheld was only a little child.  We, too, are to adore Our God as He is pleased to appear to us: we do not see a baby in a manger with His Mother, we see what looks like a piece of unleavened bread placed upon our altar by the priest.  Just as the Magi knew that what looked like an ordinary child was actually Almighty God, worthy of all adoration, so too, we know that what appears to be ordinary bread and wine on our altar is, after the consecration, Jesus Christ truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  We, like the Magi of old, are here to adore Him Who IS God among us.

After falling prostrate before Him, the Magi offered their gifts to Him.  We know that their gifts were full of significance: Gold signified the tribute they paid to Him as to their king; they offered incense to Him for they knew Him to be God; they offered myrrh, (which was used to embalm dead bodies in those days).  Myrrh was given to indicate the fact that God truly became a mortal man.  The gifts each had a symbolic or prophetic significance, but it is also important to note the fact that the Magi brought gifts with them when they came to worship.

God created everything that exists; God continually holds all creation together.  If God ceased to sustain something, it would cease to exist.  He created us and all that we have that is good comes from Him.  There isn’t anything that we can offer to Him that He hasn’t given to us; whatever we offer, we are only returning to Him what He has given to us in the first place.  Furthermore, God doesn’t need anything.  He is God; He created everything.  And yet, we learn from the three kings that it is important to offer a gift to God as we worship Him.

What, then, are we to offer to God?  We look to Jesus for the answer.  He is our example: He is the Way and the Truth and the Life.  What does Jesus give to us?  Jesus gave us the gift of Himself.  Jesus became a man for us; He was born for us in order that He may die to save us from sin and death.  He continues to give Himself to us in the gift of the Holy Eucharist at each and every Mass.  We are to imitate Christ: we should give to God the gift of ourselves.

How are we to make a gift of ourselves to God?  As the Magi brought the gift of gold, acknowledging that Christ was their King, so we too should acknowledge Christ as our King and put our fidelity to Him above all else.  As the Magi brought incense, so we can offer incense.  We offer incense here in Church, but each one of us can also offer the gift of incense.  In one of the Psalms, King David says that our prayers ascend as pleasing incense in the sight of Almighty God; and so we offer incense on the altar of our hearts whenever we pray to God from the heart.  Spending time in prayer is a gift that we can make to God in order to thank Him for all that He has done for us.

Finally, there is the gift of myrrh.  As I already mentioned, myrrh was used to embalm bodies in the ancient world: it was a gift that signified death.  Myrrh can be a reminder to us that if we are to offer ourselves to God, we need to die to self.  Jesus tells us that if we are to follow after Him, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow after Him.  By denying our sinful tendencies and rooting sin out of our lives, we make a more pleasing gift of ourselves to God.  Let us imitate the Magi and adore our God.  As we adore, let us bring our gift to Him: the gift of ourselves.  Let us strive to conform our lives and our hearts to that of Christ, and thereby make of ourselves an ever more pleasing gift to God.

January 3rd

January 3, 2010

The General Instruction recommends the First Eucharistic Prayer be used on Sundays and major feasts. (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal # 365)  The First Eucharistic Prayer addresses the Father through the Son.  The priest then blesses the gifts and asks that the Father accept the gifts that we offer.

The priest then prays for the Church throughout the world.  We pray for our Holy Father, our bishop, and for all “who hold and teach the catholic faith that comes to us from the Apostles.”  It is important that we pray for all the members of the Church; we are all members of the mystical body of Christ and it is good for us to lift the other members of the body up in prayer.  This prayer is also a beautiful reminder that our Catholic Faith is Apostolic: it can be traced back to the Apostles and through the Apostles to Jesus Christ.

The next part of the Eucharistic Prayer is called the “Commemoration of the Living”; there is a brief pause which gives us a moment to call to mind those for whom we wish to pray for in a special way at that Mass.  The Mass is the most efficacious prayer that we can offer to God.  It is good for us to remember our family and friends during the Mass, and ask God to assist them with His grace.  The priest then prays for all who are gathered together at that Mass, and for all our loved ones.

Following the commemoration of the living the Saints are honored and we beseech their prayers, that through their intercession we may constantly be assisted and protected.

The first Saint to be mentioned is Our Blessed Mother.  Mary is the Mother of God and Queen of all Saints and therefore is always mentioned first.  Immediately following her, Saint Joseph, the foster-father of Our Lord, is named.  The twelve Apostles (Saint Paul is listed instead of Judas Iscariot) are then named.  They come right after Our Lady and Saint Joseph because they are the foundation upon which the Lord founded His Church.  Saint Peter and Saint Paul are listed first because of their importance: Saint Peter was the first Pope and Saint Paul was the great Apostles to the gentiles.

Following the twelve Apostles, there is another list of twelve martyrs of the early Church.  The first five of them were Popes, then a bishop (Saint Cyprian), a deacon (Saint Lawrence) and five laymen (including two sets of brothers).  All of these martyrs lived virtuous lives and died heroic deaths bearing witness to their faith in Christ.  Their lives so greatly inspired the early Christians that their names were included in this ancient Eucharistic Prayer.

God bless,

Father White