Saint Aelred of Rielvaux (1110-1167), Cistercian monk
Sermon 18, for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul ; PL 195, 298
"Upon this rock I will build my church"
“Though the earth and all who dwell in it quake, I have set firm its pillars” (Ps 74,40). All the apostles are pillars of the earth but, at their head, the two whose feast we are celebrating. They are the two pillars who support the Church with their teaching, their prayer and the example of their steadfastness. The Lord himself strengthened these pillars. For at first they were weak, completely incapable of supporting either themselves or others. And in this the Lord's great design appears: if they had always been strong people could have thought their strength came from themselves. That is why the Lord wanted to show what they were capable of before strengthening them, so that all might know their strength came from God... Peter was thrown to the ground by the voice of a mere servant... and the other pillar was very weak too: “I was once a blasphemer and persecutor and an arrogant man” (1Tm 1,13)...
Hence we must ought to praise these saints with all our heart: our fathers who bore such trials for the Lord's sake and who persevered with such determination. It is nothing to persevere in joy, happiness and peace. But this is what is great: to be stoned, scourged, struck for Christ (2Cor 11,25) and in all this to persevere with Christ. With Paul it is a great thing to be cursed and to bless, to be persecuted and to endure, to be slandered and to console, to be like the world's rubbish and to draw glory from it (1Cor 4,12-13)... And what shall we say of Peter? Even if he had undergone nothing for Christ, it would be sufficient to celebrate him today in that he was crucified for him... He well knew where he whom he loved, he whom he longed for was...: his cross has been his road to heaven.