Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 28: Vigil of Sts. Peter & Paul - Domine Quo Vadis?

Last Winter, I read the "The Interior Castle" by St. Teresa of Avila.  For anyone who has not read it, I highly recommend it.  It is a beautiful work, in which she gives us the benefit of her deep and penetrating knowledge into the life of prayer, and demonstrates her extraordinary insight into human frailty and the stumbling blocks which hinder us on our path toward spiritual perfection.

In the last chapter (7th Mansion, Ch. 4), as she is recapping the book, and speaking of the trials and sufferings of those to whom Our Lord grants intense spiritual visions and aspirations, she mentions the famous "Quo vadis" legend regarding St. Peter.  The translator of the edition that I was reading (E. Allison Peers, Sheed & Ward, 1946) puts a footnote there, and states:
"In the old Carmelite breviary, which St. Teresa would have used, the Antiphon of the Magnificat at 1st Vespers on June 29 runs "The Blessed Apostle Peter saw Christ coming to meet him.  Adoring Him, he said: 'Lord, whither goest Thou?' ' I am going to Rome to be crucified afresh.'"  The story has it that St. Peter returned to Rome and was crucified.
Since the Carmelite and Dominican liturgical books sprang from the same older Roman Rite that was widely diffused throughout France in the 13th Century, I decided to look up June 29 in my Dominican Breviary (1967) to see if that antiphon had survived through the centuries.  And sure enough, it did.  (See here...bottom left side of p. 574.)

Than antiphon at 1st Vespers for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is:

Beátus Petrus Apóstolus vidit sibi Christum occúrrere, et adórans eum ait:  Dómine, quo vadis?  Vénio Romam íterum crucifígi.
The blessed apostle Peter saw Christ coming towards him, and adoring him, said, “Lord, where are you going?” “I go to Rome to be crucified again.”

This antiphon is not in the 1962 Monastic or Roman breviaries.  Whether or not the legend is true, it has been borne through the ages in the Dominican breviary and is, in my opinion, a wonderful subject for meditation.  This is particularly true in these dark days when living a faithful Catholic life can at best be full of obstacles and, at worst, lead to outright persecution by the State or groups who align themselves with the eternal Enemy of the Church.