Peter’s Pence Collection, Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Peters Pence

In case any of you are wondering what is Peter’s Pence, which is collected every Sunday nearest to the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, which falls on 29 June every year (Therefore this year Peter’s Pence is collected on Sunday, 30 June 2013, 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time), Peter’s Pence is a special collection in which the collection will not go into the local church or parish fund, but gathered from all over the world and sent to Rome, to the Holy See. Thus, the collection made during the offertory this Sunday will go directly to Rome.

What is the purpose of the Peter’s Pence collection? Exactly to support the numerous charitable activities and organisations managed by the Holy See, by our Church, all over the world. There are thousands, tens of thousands of charity under the supervision of the Church, and to be able to continue with the action, funds are definitely necessary to provide a solid backing. That is why, Peter’s Pence is done once every year, on the Sunday nearest to the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

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Why Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul? That is because on that day lie the great celebration of the two great saints and apostles that defined our Church, because they met their martyrdom in Rome. St. Peter, the Prince and leader of all the Apostles, whom the Pope is the successor of today, met his martyrdom in what is now Vatican City, through crucifixion, and St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, and author of the Epistles in the New Testament, met his martyrdom in Rome, through beheading.

Peter’s Pence itself had its origins in the late dark ages and early medieval period, particularly from England, where it got the name Peter’s ‘Pence’. Pence is the unit of money still in use until today in the United Kingdom and the related monetary units. ‘Peter’ simply point to the fact that the collection or ‘pence’ is intended to be sent to Rome, to the Pope, in order to support various Church activities.

Monday, 27 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God is our Lord, and He is our Creator. He is everything to us, for without Him, we cannot live, and we cannot survive. Only by being with God can we be saved, and only by staying in His presence and favour, we can gain eternal life, which He rewards to all those who remain faithful in Him and who prove that they love Him with all their hearts, their minds, and their souls, with their entire beings.

If we want to follow the Lord, and become His disciples, we cannot be half-hearted, and we cannot be hesitant. Instead, we must be very certain in our hearts, and be very conscious that we choose the Lord over everything else in this world. We have to put God foremost in our hearts and in all our daily dealings, before other things that may corrupt our hearts and sway our attention away from the Lord.

Wealth and worldly material possessions are some of such things that most easily turn the hearts of mankind away from God who loves them. Countless people across the different ages had spurned the love of God, and the salvation which He had offered freely to all, all just for the sake of money and possessions.

But be careful brothers and sisters, because we cannot misinterpret the Lord’s true intention and desire for us. The Lord is not hostile against wealth or His children having worldly possessions and material goods, but what He warned us all against is the danger of excessive wealth and the corrupting influence such things can have on us, that it turn us away from the Lord and bring us damnation in the end.

Wealth itself is not evil, brothers and sisters in Christ, and when wealth is used correctly, it can be indeed a great tool for love and for the advancement of the cause of Christ in this world. For wealth can feed many who hunger for basic nutrition and food, and those who lack basic needs required for survival. Wealth also can sponsor many of our Church’s charitable actions spread throughout the world, dedicated to the service of the poor, the ones who hunger, both physically and spiritually.

The true evil itself lies in our weakness, ever since the day of our rebellion against God’s will and our disobedience since the day of Adam. We had been exposed to sin ever since in our hearts. Greed in particular is our weakness, and desire to have more goods, more money had caused mankind to do much evil in the history of mankind, even within the Church.

That is why brothers and sisters in Christ, do not shun wealth! and do not hate the rich! but instead do our own part to help those who are less fortunate, especially those among us who have more, in terms of goods, money, or even if we have particular skills or even love, which we can indeed share to those around us who need them more. Indeed, this world has many people who does not just need the food for our stomach, but also food for the heart, that is love. For there remains many who are unloved in this world.

Today, we commemorate the feast of a great saint, Saint Augustine of Canterbury, who first established the Church hierarchy in the chaotic England of the Dark Ages. He established the first diocese in that country, what is to be known as the Archdiocese of Canterbury, and Saint Augustine was its first bishop

Saint Augustine converted many of the Anglo-Saxons who ruled England and much of the rest of Britannia at the time, in the region we know now as the United Kingdom. He established the Church in England. He served the Lord with zeal and strong faith, and through dedicated service, especially to the weak and to the poor. He convinced the rich and the powerful to follow Christ and abandon their old pagan and sinful ways, including even the king, whom he converted to Christianity.

Sadly, now the Church in England had been divided, by irresponsible act of men throughout history, which had brought division in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I am certain that Saint Augustine is sad that his successors have not kept the faith of the Apostles. Let us pray that the Church in England will be reunited once more, and be one with the Universal Church, keeping alive the faith of the Apostles, and fall not into the evils of the world.

Then for all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all strive to do our own best in giving our all to our less fortunate brethren, be it through material donations, skill donations, and even more importantly, by donating the love that is within us. Not that it will lessen the love that is within us. On the contrary, if we share our love to others who lack them and long for love, our own love will grow and strengthen us. May God be with us, in all our deeds, and strengthen our resolve, to do good for the sake of all mankind. Amen.

Monday, 27 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Mark 10 : 17-27

Just as Jesus was setting out on His journey again, a man ran up, knelt before Him and asked, “Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?”

Jesus answered, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments : Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat, honour your father and mother.”

The man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments since my childhood.” Then Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him and he said, “For you, one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow Me.”

On hearing these words, his face fell and he went away sorrowful, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus insisted, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

They were more astonished than ever and wondered, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked steadily at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God; all things are possible with God.”

Monday, 27 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Psalm)

Psalm 31 : 1-2, 5, 6, 7

Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom the Lord sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit.

Then I made known to You my sin and uncovered before You my fault, saying to myself, “To the Lord I will now confess my wrong.” And You, You forgave my sin, You removed my guilt.

So let the faithful ones pray to You in time of distress; the overflowing waters will not reach them.

You are my refuge; You protect me from distress and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Monday, 27 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (First Reading)

Sirach 17 : 20-28

Their misdeeds cannot be hidden from Him, all their sins are before the Lord. He holds a man’s almsgiving dear as a priceless signet ring; He cherishes a good deed like the apple of His eye.

One day He will rise and reward them; He will place their prize on their heads. He allows those who repent to return; He comforts those whose hopes are fading.

Be converted to the Lord and give up your sins, plead with Him to lessen your offense. Return to the Almighty, turn aside from wrongdoing and totally detest evil.

For who in the grave will praise the Almighty, if the living do not give Him glory? The dead man is as if he did not exist and cannot give praise; He who has life and health can praise the Lord.

Saturday, 25 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor; Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope; and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we learn about God, that God is our Father, our creator. God shaped us from dust, in His own image, that we look like Him, and receiving His Holy Spirit through His breath, we gain life that is anchored in the Spirit that is in all of us.

He is our Father, and like our earthly father, He loves us, protects us, and grant us His grace, through His guidance and numerous blessings to us. He taught us many things through subtle means, and He opened our eyes to the knowledge of the world. He brought us up since the day of our conception and cares for us till the day of our death.

God who is our Father loves us, brothers and sisters in Christ, that He even sent His only Son, one of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, to be one of us, to be a lowly man like us, and in doing so, He brought us even closer to Himself, because we now, through Christ, truly become children of God, because Christ Himself, the Son of God, is our brother, just as He is our Lord and Saviour.

But we have rebelled against His love and His faithfulness to us, and we have rejected Him since the first days of creation, beginning with the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, when they ate the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, trusting Satan in the snake more than they trust the Lord their God and their creator.

Yes, one weakness that mankind particularly has today is greed, my brethren, especially greed for knowledge, curiosity, and an excess of it, which resulted exactly in the rebellion of the first mankind, because of their curiosity of the knowledge of good and evil as tempted by Satan. The Lord has given each one of us wisdom and intellect, but we have never felt enough, and are always curious and wanting to know more.

This is how our modern world rapidly becoming less and less faithful to God, and many turn their hearts away from total obedience and love for God. Many question their faith, because they are curious about the truth behind it, and they trust more alternatives to God such as scientific discoveries, because in those discoveries, they gain more and more knowledge, and this displaces God in their hearts, because to them, science seems to offer them something tangible, as science itself represents something that must be verifiable and visible.

Yes, our God and Lord may not be visible to us, and His presence may not be easily felt, if you apply the standards of science, and the standards of our human stature to it, but God does exist in our hearts, brothers and sisters in Christ, and He is present in all of us, through the Spirit of life that He has given us. What mankind is lacking truly is the ability to transcend that greed for more knowledge and more understanding, but in the process, those greed transform them into a corrupted being.

That is why Christ asks us to be like the children, to have faith like the children, because children are pure and innocent, and in the children lie the fullness of the love of God, and they are beings that can truly love God with all their heart, their mind, and their soul, without being disrupted and clouded by the evils of this world, simply because, in the innocence of their heart, they know only the love of God.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we too should follow the children’s example, in their pure and unadulterated love for God. If you see a child pray, you can see that their prayer is pure, and not like many of us who utter litany of wishes in our prayer, because we have been tainted by greed and desire, desiring that God grant us our wishes, although prayer is in fact the bridge of faith, our pure connection, a two-way connection between us and God, instead of being a help line or a wishing line.

That is why those of you who are parents with young children, it is important to educate your children well, and ensure that they are protected from the evil influences that are ever present in our world, and in our surroundings. In a world where knowledge had become much more readily accessible and in the reach of even children through the media and the internet, there is a need for greater vigilance, brethren, that we, and especially young children, do not fall prey to Satan’s advances. Knowledge is good, and knowing more is good, but are we able to truly distinguish between truth or lies? and are we able to distinguish between what is good and what is bad?

Today, we also celebrate feast of saints, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Saints because we do not just celebrate one saint, but three saints! They are St. Bede the Venerable, a holy monk living in the seventh and early eighth century England, who contributed greatly to the development of the Church in Britannia, and we also have Pope St. Gregory VII, a great Pope, and a great reformer Pope, who championed the freedom and the authority of the Papacy against secular powers that try to usurp the Church’s authority from it, and finally St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, a virtuous religious sister who often received visions from the Lord, and was known for her great piety and love for God.

St. Bede the Venerable was a great author who wrote extensively on the early histories of the British Isles, but also made important chronicles of the development of the Church in the West and in Britain, especially in the well known history of the Church and people of England, that is the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. His works brought great advancement in the field of learning and knowledge. This shows the greatness of wisdom and intellect that God has given us, and if we utilise it right, we can bring about great good to mankind, just as St. Bede the Venerable had done.

Pope St. Gregory VII, is a great Pope of the medieval era, who championed Papal supremacy and authority over the rulers of Christendom. He persevered over the power of the secular ruler, in the person of the Holy Roman Emperor, the Christendom’s ruler at the time, over the appointment of bishops, which rightfully should belong to the successor of the apostles, the successor of Peter, that is the Pope, alone. He triumphed against those who in their pride think that they know it all and did not pay proper respect to the Lord out of their pride and arrogance.

St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi gained many visions which she received regularly from the Lord, and through her writings on her visions and experiences, many believed in the Lord. This is the proof that knowledge and wisdom indeed comes from God, and from God alone. We humans receive our knowledge and wisdom from the Spirit that is also our life, but we are prone to think that this knowledge and wisdom is our own, and disregard the Lord’s role in it.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from now on, follow in the footsteps of these great saints, and pursue the true knowledge, the truth that is in the Lord. Do not be tempted by the falsehood that this world offers, that is Satan’s temptation. God who loves us will grant us truth, wisdom, and knowledge that is anchored in Him, that we will not fall like Adam and Eve once did. May God be our light of guidance, and steer us on the path to return to Him one day. Amen.