Today happens to be the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul – two great Christian leaders. One served in Rome as a symbol of Church unity, the other was sent to the ends of the earth as a symbol of Church missionary activity. For me, this feast is significant mostly on the account of St. Peter in Chains, which was today’s first reading (Acts 12:1-11). Indeed I felt a connection here because I was raised a Catholic in the parish of St. Peter in Chains, and my home diocese (Cincinnati) is headed at the cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. I was also baptized on the Feast of St. Peter in Chains (Aug 1, 1954) and I selected for my Confirmation name … St. Peter.
But the reading this morning captured me (in chains) because of the telling of the angel. Lately I have been drawn in prayer to consider the role of the Lord’s angel in my life. Our faith teaches that we are committed to an angel throughout the course of our earthly life, and I believe that is true. St. Anselm, for instance, believed that “every soul is committed to an angel when it is united with the body.” St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that not only do baptized Christians receive an angel, but so does every member of the human race. These guardians never leave us, even when we sin, and will accompany us to our eternal reward. The most appealing part of the reading from Acts is that St. Peter thought the guardian who released him was a dream, and that it just couldn’t be real. In fact, Peter learned a bit more clearly what “real” means. He was really freed and really given grace from God. Created spirits, to whom we bodily humans have been assigned, really love and care for us on behalf of the One who created us. Thank God!
Nunc scio vere quia misit Dominus angelum suum (Acts 12:11)