Pastor's Letter - June 30, 2019

The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul has been celebrated in the Church as early as 258AD. In Rome the joint feast of these two great apostles seems to have always been kept on June 29. There are a few theories as to why this solemnity which honors both saints is celebrated on the 29th of June. One theory is that Peter and Paul were both martyred on the same day but in different locations in Rome. Another theory is that Peter was martyred on June 29 between the years 65-67AD and Paul was martyred on the same day but a year later.

One aspect of this feast which is relatively unknown is its connection with the conferral of the Pallium to new archbishops by the pope on this day. The Pallium, which is made with the wool of a lamb, is worn by archbishops. It speaks to us of the catholicity of the Church, of the universal communion of the Pastor and flock and refers us to apostolic succession: to communion with the faith of the Apostles on which the Church is founded. Pastors who succeed St. Peter are Pastors like him, they are together with him, they belong to the common ministry of the Pastors of the Church of Jesus Christ, a ministry that continues in them. It is this faith which Jesus called Peter and Paul to live and die for and it is this faith that Jesus continues to call all to live and die for so that they may be with Him forever.

This coming Thursday we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. This is an opportune time for us to reflect upon the great gift which freedom is, and the obligation that it places upon us. As Christians we should remember that God made us with a mind to know and a will to choose. Freedom is an inalienable right. God gave it to us – made it part of our very nature. It is not granted to us by any state or human power. It is, rather, the obligation of the state to protect and defend human freedom. This is the purpose of law enforcement and defensive armies. Freedom is a gift from God which enables us to choose the good. As we celebrate our nation’s birth, pray that God will preserve us from tyranny and evil. Pray that He will preserve us in freedom: freedom to choose the good, freedom to live for God.

The ordination of Frs. Ethan Hokamp (whose home parish is Our Lady Queen of Heaven) and Brandon Guenther on Saturday, June 22, was a great celebration for our community and for the Diocese of La Crosse! Please join me in praying for our newest priests of the Diocese of La Crosse, that God will strengthen them to be faithful priests, according to the Heart of Christ!

May God bless you! Fr. Schaller