Posted in HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, ON the SAINTS, PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, SAINT of the DAY, SPEAKING of ....., St PAUL!, The APOSTLES & EVANGELISTS, VATICAN Resources

Series on the Catechesis of Pope BENEDICT XVI “Speaking of St Paul” – No 1 – Religious and Cultural Environment

Series on the Catechesis of Pope BENEDICT XVI on St Paul

“Speaking of St Paul ” No 1 – Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Religious and Cultural Environment

386px-Marco_Zoppo_-_St_Paul_-_WGA26005
Marco Zoppo (1433–1478) – Italian painter (1433-1478) St Paul circa 1468

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to begin a new cycle of Catechesis focusing on the great Apostle St Paul. As you know, this year is dedicated to him, from the liturgical Feast of Sts Peter and Paul on 29 June 2008 to the same Feast day in 2009.   The Apostle Paul, an outstanding and almost inimitable yet stimulating figure, stands before us as an example of total dedication to the Lord and to his Church, as well as of great openness to humanity and its cultures.   It is right, therefore, that we reserve a special place for him in not only our veneration but also in our effort to understand what he has to say to us as well, Christians of today.   In this first meeting let us pause to consider the environment in which St Paul lived and worked.   A theme such as this would seem to bring us far from our time, given that we must identify with the world of 2,000 years ago.   Yet this is only apparently and, in any case, only partly true for we can see that various aspects of today’s social and cultural context are not very different from what they were then.

A primary and fundamental fact to bear in mind is the relationship between the milieu in which Paul was born and raised and the global context to which he later belonged.   He came from a very precise and circumscribed culture, indisputably a minority, which is that of the People of Israel and its tradition.   In the ancient world and especially in the Roman Empire, as scholars in the subject teach us, Jews must have accounted for about 10 percent of the total population.   Later, here in Rome, towards the middle of the first century, this percentage was even lower, amounting to three percent of the city’s inhabitants at most.   Their beliefs and way of life, is still the case today, distinguished them clearly from the surrounding environment and this could have two results:  either derision, that could lead to intolerance, or admiration which was expressed in various forms of sympathy, as in the case of the “God-fearing” or “proselytes”, pagans who became members of the Synagogue and who shared the faith in the God of Israel.   As concrete examples of this dual attitude we can mention on the one hand the cutting opinion of an orator such as Cicero who despised their religion and even the city of Jerusalem (cf. Pro Flacco, 66-69) and, on the other, the attitude of Nero’s wife, Poppea, who is remembered by Flavius Josephus as a “sympathiser” of the Jews (cf. Antichità giudaiche 20, 195, 252); Vita 16), not to mention that Julius Caesar had already officially recognised specific rights of the Jews which have been recorded by the above-mentioned Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (cf. ibid., 14,200-216).   It is certain that the number of Jews, as, moreover, is still the case today, was far greater outside the land of Israel, that is, in the Diaspora, than in the territory that others called Palestine.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Paul himself was the object of the dual contradictory assessment that I mentioned.   One thing is certain: the particularism of the Judaic culture and religion easily found room in an institution as far-reaching as the Roman Empire.   Those who would adhere with faith to the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, Jew or Gentile, were in the more difficult and troubled position, to the extent to which they were to distinguish themselves from both Judaism and the prevalent paganism.   In any case, two factors were in Paul’s favour.   The first was the Greek, or rather Hellenistic, culture which after Alexander the Great had become a common heritage, at least of the Eastern Mediterranean and of the Middle East and had even absorbed many elements of peoples traditionally considered barbarian.   One writer of the time says in this regard that Alexander “ordered that all should consider the entire oecumene as their homeland… and that a distinction should no longer be made between Greek and barbarian” (Plutarch, De Alexandri Magni fortuna aut virtute, 6, 8).   The second factor was the political and administrative structure of the Roman Empire which guaranteed peace and stability from Britain as far as southern Egypt, unifying a territory of previously unheard of dimensions.   It was possible to move with sufficient freedom and safety in this space, making use, among other things, of an extraordinary network of roads and finding at every point of arrival basic cultural characteristics which, without affecting local values, nonetheless represented a common fabric of unification super partes, so that the Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Paul himself, praised the Emperor Augustus for “composing in harmony all the savage peoples, making himself the guardian of peace” (Legatio ad Caium, 146-147).

There is no doubt that the universalist vision characteristic of St Paul’s personality, at least of the Christian Paul after the event on the road to Damascus, owes its basic impact to faith in Jesus Christ, since the figure of the Risen One was by this time situated beyond any particularistic narrowness.   Indeed, for the Apostle “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3: 28).   Yet, even the historical and cultural situation of his time and milieu could not but have had an influence on his decisions and his work.   Some have defined Paul as “a man of three cultures”, taking into account his Jewish background, his Greek tongue and his prerogative as a “civis romanus [Roman citizen], as the name of Latin origin suggests.   Particularly the Stoic philosophy dominant in Paul’s time which influenced Christianity, even if only marginally, should be recalled.   Concerning this, we cannot gloss over certain names of Stoic philosophers such as those of its founders, Zeno and Cleanthes and then those closer to Paul in time such as Seneca, Musonius and Epictetus: in them the loftiest values of humanity and wisdom are found which were naturally to be absorbed by Christianity.   As one student of the subject splendidly wrote, “Stoicism… announced a new ideal, which imposed upon man obligations to his peersbut at the same time set him free from all physical and national ties and made of him a purely spiritual being” (M. Pohlenz, La Stoa, I, Florence, 2, 1978, pp. 565 f.).   One thinks, for example, of the doctrine of the universe understood as a single great harmonious body and consequently of the doctrine of equality among all people without social distinctions, of the equivalence, at least in principle, of men and women and then of the ideal of frugality, of the just measure and self-control to avoid all excesses.   When Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4: 8), he was only taking up a purely humanistic concept proper to that philosophical wisdom.

In St Paul’s time a crisis of traditional religion was taking place, at least in its mythological and even civil aspects.   After Lucretius had already ruled polemically a century earlier that “religion has led to many misdeeds” (De rerum natura, 1, 101, On the Nature of Things), a philosopher such as Seneca, going far beyond any external ritualism, taught that “God is close to you, he is with you, he is within you” (Epistulae morales to Lucilius, 41, 1).   Similarly, when Paul addresses an audience of Epicurean philosophers and Stoics in the Areopagus of Athens, he literally says: “God does not live in shrines made by man,… for in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17: 24, 28).   In saying this he certainly re-echoes the Judaic faith in a God who cannot be represented in anthropomorphic terms and even places himself on a religious wavelength that his listeners knew well.   We must also take into account the fact that many pagan cults dispensed with the official temples of the town and made use of private places that favoured the initiation of their followers.   It is, therefore, not surprising that Christian gatherings (ekklesiai) as Paul’s Letters attest, also took place in private homes.   At that time, moreover, there were not yet any public buildings.   Therefore, Christian assemblies must have appeared to Paul’s contemporaries as a simple variation of their most intimate religious practice.   Yet the differences between pagan cults and Christian worship are not negligible and regard the participants’ awareness of their identity as well as the participation in common of men and women, the celebration of the “Lord’s Supper”, and the reading of the Scriptures.

In conclusion, from this brief over-view of the cultural context of the first century of the Christian era, it is clear that it is impossible to understand St Paul properly without placing him against both the Judaic and pagan background of his time.   Thus he grows in historical and spiritual stature, revealing both sharing and originality in comparison with the surrounding environment.   However, this applies likewise to Christianity in general, of which the Apostle Paul, precisely, is a paradigm of the highest order from whom we all, always, still have much to learn.   And this is the goal of the Pauline Year:  to learn from St Paul, to learn faith, to learn Christ, and finally to learn the way of upright living.

St Paul Pray for us!st paul pray for us - 25 jan2018 - catechesis of pope benedict no 1

Posted in MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, WORLD DAYS of PRAYER

The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity 18-25 January 2018

The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity 18-25 January 2018

BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS AND PRAYERS FOR THE EIGHT DAYS
Your right hand, O Lord,
glorious in power
(Ex 15:6)

Day 8:  He will gather the dispersed… from the four corners of the earth

Isaiah 11:12-13 Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not be hostile
towards Ephraim

Psalm 106:1-14, 43-48 Gather us to give thanks to your holy name

Ephesians 2:13-19 He has broken down the dividing wall

John 17:1-12 I have been glorified in them

The Caribbean churches work together to heal the wounds in the Body of Christ in the region, which are a legacy left by colonization. Reconciliation often demands repentance, reparation and the healing of memories. One example is the acts of apology and reparation between Baptists in Britain and the Caribbean. Like Israel, the Church in its unity is called to be both a sign and an active agent of reconciliation.

Reflection

Throughout the biblical narrative of salvation history, an unmistakable motif is the unrelenting determination of the Lord to form a people whom he could call his own. The formation of such a people – united in a sacred covenant with God – is integral to the Lord’s plan of salvation and to the glorification and hallowing of God’s Name.

The prophets repeatedly remind Israel that the covenant demanded that relationships among its various social groups should be characterized by justice, compassion and mercy. As Jesus prepared to seal the new covenant in his own blood, his earnest prayer to the Father was that those given to him by the Father would be one, just as he and the Father were one. When Christians discover their unity in Jesus they participate in Christ’s glorification in the presence of the Father, with the same glory that he had in the Father’s presence before the world existed. And so, God’s covenanted people must always strive to be a reconciled community – one which itself is an effective sign to all the peoples of the earth of how to live in justice and in peace.

Prayer

Lord,
we humbly ask that, by your grace,
the churches throughout the world
may become instruments of your peace.

Through their joint action as ambassadors
and agents of your healing, reconciling love
among divided peoples,
may your Name be hallowed and glorified.

Amen.

The right hand of God
is planting in our land,
planting seeds of freedom, hope and love;
in these many-peopled lands,
let his children all join hands,
and be one with the right hand of God.DAY EIGHT - OCTAVE DAY - OCTAVE FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY - 25 JAN 2018

Posted in MORNING Prayers, NOVENAS

Novena to Blessed Benedict Daswa- Day Three – 25 January

Novena to Blessed Benedict Daswa- Day Three – 25 January

3rd Day: A TRUE FAMILY MAN
In 1980, Benedict married Shadi Eveline Monyai, a Lutheran who was then received
into full communion with the Catholic Church.   They had eight children, the last being
born four months after his death.   Benedict believed that helping his wife with the
children and doing household chores were part of his marriage commitment.   He told
people, “You should assist your wife with her household chores” and taught his
children to help in the home.   He also trained them to work hard, both at school and in
his orchard.
The family prayed together each evening.   This family prayer time, which included the
reading of Scripture as well as family prayer, was a true “domestic Church”.   As family,
they always attended the Sunday liturgical celebrations.   Benedict instituted the
“Daswa Day” around the Feast of Christmas.   The family and all their close relatives
used to spend the day together during which as Christmas gifts, each child received
useful school materials for the coming year.

Word of God
”For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and
the two shall become one flesh”.   This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it
refers to Christ and the Church;  however, let each one of you love his wife as himself,
and let the wife see that she respects her husband. … Fathers, do not provoke your
children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 5, 31-32; 6, 4)

Reflection: – How do I relate to my spouse, my children?
Do we pray together as a family?   How often?

PrayerBlessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Lo, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.
(Psalm 128, 1. 3-4)

NOVENA PRAYER:

O Blessed Trinity,
I believe that You dwell in me through my baptism.
I love You, I adore You and I worship You.
I give You thanks for Blessed Benedict,
Whom You chose to bear witness unto death for his faith
In Jesus Christ, my Saviour and my Lord.

Almighty Father, You filled the heart of Blessed Benedict,
With great love and zeal in building up Your kingdom.
You gave him the courage and the strength
To stand up for his faith without fear, even the fear of death.

Loving God, keep me free from all deeds of darkness.
Protect me from evil spirits and the powers of evil.
Make me a true apostle of life in my family and in society.
May Your light, O Lord, shine upon me and through me.

Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Blessed Benedict,
I ask that I may follow his example
Of always being ready to forgive in a Christian spirit.
You know all about my many problems and worries
And my great fears when I look to the future.
I draw strength and courage from the life of Blessed Benedict.

I come to You now, Lord, and through his intercession
I ask for this very special favour
…………………………………….(mention your request/s)
if it is according to Your will.

Help me always to follow the good example of Blessed Benedict.
By daily prayer and regular attendance at Church,
Help me to love You, O Lord, above all things
And to love others as You love me.
Amen.DAY ONE - NOVENA BL BENEDICT - 23 JAN 2018

Posted in MORNING Prayers, NOVENAS

Novena to St John Bosco – Day Four – 25 January

Novena to St John Bosco – Day Four – 25 January

4th Day – For Young People

O Saint John Bosco,
you became father, teacher and friend
to young people by the great love
and personal sacrifice with which you worked
for their salvation.
Pray for us that, inspired by your example
we also may love this chosen portion of God’s flock
with Christ’s own pastoral charity
and receive every child as we would the Lord Jesus himself.
Through your intercession
may God grant me the following grace
………………….…………….
(mention your request)
so that together with others
I may assist and help young people in today’s society, AMEN.

Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory to the Father…

St John Bosco Pray for us!DAY FOUR - NOVENA ST JOHN BOSCO - 25 JAN 2018

Posted in MARTYRS, MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY, St PAUL!, The APOSTLES & EVANGELISTS

Second Thoughts for Today – 25 January – Feast of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle

Second Thoughts for Today – 25 January – Feast of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle

St Paul’s life is perhaps the best known in the annals of the saints and his conversion was one of the most earth-shattering miracles of the early Church.

Of course, not all of us can be knocked off our feet by a vision of Jesus Christ but we can live our faith with the same intensity as that of St Paul did.   After his conversion, St Paul spent his life spreading the news of Jesus everywhere and died as his final witness to the faith.

It is total commitment and heroism that planted the Christian faith and it is still needed very badly in our day.   The bottom-line is this:

the question is “what is it about”

and the answer is “love”.

St Paul, Pray for us!st paul - pray for us - no 3- 25 jan 2018

Posted in DOMINICAN OP, MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 25 January – The Memorial of Blessed Henry Suso O.P. (1290-1365)

Thought for the Day – 25 January – The Memorial of Blessed Henry Suso O.P. (1290-1365)

Henry Suso is a bundle of contradictions and a person, moreover, who has gathered legends about him like a snowball rolling downhill.   He was a poet, which is not always a key to happiness in this world; a mystic of the highest order;  a hard working Dominican;  and a man with a positive genius for getting into embarrassing situations. He has suffered at the hands of chroniclers who dislike his followers, or his tactics, or his poetry;  he is all but canonised by those who see in him the Dominican mystic.   It will require many years of exhaustive research to sort out the diverse elements in his personality, if, indeed, it can ever be accomplished.   Poets are not easy to analyse, and Henry, before all else, was a poet and a mystic.

Anyone who endures dryness at prayer or feels abandoned by God will find instruction, and perhaps some relief, in the experience of Henry Suso.   A mystic who called himself the “servant of Eternal Wisdom,” he endured long stretches of spiritual darkness interrupted only by occasional bursts of brightness.   Henry’s life says to us that in apparent barrenness the soul draws closest to God.   And we see him only by learning to look deep within.

Henry Suso was born at Constance, Switzerland and became a Dominican there at 13. Five years later an extraordinary divine encounter launched him on his lifelong mystical pursuit of God.   For the next decade, however, Suso suffered severe depression and doubt.   Finally, counsel with Meister Eckhart, the patriarch of 14th-century German mysticism, delivered him from the worst of it.

Like many other mystics, at midlife Henry threw himself into active Christian work.   For nearly two decades he travelled throughout the Rhineland preaching, teaching and giving spiritual direction.   He also wrote extensively about the inner life.   His work on prayer, The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom, became the most popular Christian book in Europe before The Imitation of Christ appeared.   In this excerpt he asks God, the Eternal Wisdom, why he seems to forsake those he loves:

Eternal Wisdom: When I hide myself, only then do you become aware of who I am or who you are. I am eternal Good, and so when I pour myself forth so lovingly, everything I enter becomes good. One can thus detect my presence as one detects the sun by its brightness since one cannot see its essence.

Servant: Lord, I find within myself a great unevenness. When I feel forsaken, my soul is like a sick person to whom everything is repugnant. But when the bright morning star bursts forth in my soul, all gloom disappears. Quickly, however, it is all snatched away and I am again forsaken. But then after intense sadness it returns. What is going on?

Eternal Wisdom: I am causing it, and it is the game of love. As long as love is together with love, love does not know how dear love is. But when love departs from love, then truly love feels how dear love was.

Servant: Dear Lord, teach me how to conduct myself in this game.

Eternal Wisdom: On good days you should consider the bad days, and on the bad days consider the good days. Then neither exuberance at my presence nor despondency can harm you. To find joy on earth, it is not enough that you give me a certain period of the day. You must constantly remain within yourself if you want to find God, hear his familiar words and be sensitive to his secret thoughts.

Suso’s individualistic piety and his association with Meister Eckhart, who was suspected of heresy, won him many enemies.   He was accused of theft, sacrilege, fathering a child, poisoning and heresy, he suffered greatly but he was completely cleared of all charges. Toward the end of his life he served as the prior of the Dominican house at Ulm in central Germany. Henry Suso died there in 1366.

Henry died in 1365, in Ulm and was buried there in the convent of St Paul.   However, in spite of the fact that his body was found intact and giving forth a sweet odour two hundred and fifty years later, the beatification was delayed until 1831.   The relics, meantime, had disappeared entirely and have never been recovered.

Blessed Henry Suso, pray for us!bl henry suso - pray for us - 25 jan 2018

Posted in DOMINICAN OP, EUCHARISTIC Adoration, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on LOVE, QUOTES on SANCTITY, QUOTES on SILENCE, QUOTES on SUFFERING, SAINT of the DAY, The HOLY EUCHARIST

Quote/s of the Day – 25 January – The Memorial of Blessed Henry Suso O.P. (1290-1365)

Quote/s of the Day – 25 January – The Memorial of Blessed Henry Suso O.P. (1290-1365)

“Suffering is the ancient law of love;
there is no quest without pain;
there is no lover
who is not also a martyr.”

“Suffering is
a short pain
and a long joy.”

“After big storms
there follow
bright days.”suffering is the ancient law of love - bl henry suso - 25 jan 2018

“I have often repented of having spoken.
I have never repented of silence.”i have often repented - bl henry suso - 25 jan 2018

“The eternal God asks a favour of His bride:
“Hold me close to your heart,
close as locket or bracelet fits.”
No matter whether we walk
or stand still, eat or drink,
we should at all times
wear the golden locket
“Jesus” upon our heart.”the eternal god asks a favour - bl henry suso - 25 jan 2018

“Nowhere does Jesus
hear our prayers
more readily than
in the Blessed Sacrament.”

Blessed Henry Suso O.P. (1290-1365)nowhere does jesus hear our prayers - bl henry suso - 25 jan 2018

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on FAITH, SAINT of the DAY, St PAUL!, The APOSTLES & EVANGELISTS, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 25 January – Feast of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle

One Minute Reflection – 25 January – Feast of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle

I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness of what you have seen and what you will be shown.   I shall deliver you from this people and from the Gentiles to whom I send you,to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been consecrated by faith in me…Acts 26:16-18acts 26-16

REFLECTION – “Paul, more than anyone else, has shown us what man really is and in what our nobility consists and of what virtue this particular animal is capable.   Each day he aimed ever higher; each day he rose up with greater ardour and faced with new eagerness the dangers that threatened him.   He summed up his attitude in the words:  “I forget what is behind me and push on to what lies ahead”…The most important thing of all to him, however, was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ.   Enjoying this love, he considered himself happier than anyone else”…….St John Chrysostomchrysostum-on-paul-2018

PRAYER – Today Lord, we celebrate the conversion of St Paul, Your chosen vessel for carrying Your name to the whole world.   Help us to make our way towards You by following in his footsteps and by being Your disciples before the men and women of our day.   Grant that by the prayers of St Paul, we too may say, “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)   Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, amen.st paul apostle, pray for us - 25 jan 2018

Posted in BREVIARY Prayers, CATHOLIC-PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH, HYMNS, MARTYRS, MORNING Prayers, ON the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, St PAUL!

Our Morning Offering – 25 January – Feast of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle

Our Morning Offering – 25 January – Feast of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle

Morning Hymn from the Psalter
for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul

Apostle of the gentiles, Paul
The greatest witness of them all.
You turned to Christ, the risen Lord,
When out of light you heard Him call.

You journeyed far and wide to tell
That Christ was risen from the dead,
That all who put their faith in Him
Would live forever, as He said.

To Father, Son and Spirit blest,
The light of man’s uncharted ways,
With all the Church throughout the world,
Give glory and unceasing praise.apostle of the gentiles paul - hymn from the psalter - 25 jan 2018

Posted in FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MARTYRS, MIRACLES, MORNING Prayers, ON the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, St PAUL!, The APOSTLES & EVANGELISTS

Feast of the Conversion of St Paul – 25 January

Feast of the Conversion of St Paul – 25 January

St Paul the Apostle is the greatest of the early Christian missionaries.   He first appears in the Acts of the Apostles under the name of Saul.   Saul was raised in the Jewish faith as a Pharisee trained in the strict observance of God’s Law.   He believed the Law should be obeyed by himself and all Jews.   Saul was upset by the early Christian Church, believing that the early Christians had broken away from their Jewish traditions.   He actively persecuted the Church in Jerusalem.   As the first Christian martyr Stephen was being stoned to death, Saul watched the cloaks of the persecutors (Acts 7:58).

Paul then traveled to Damascus to further persecute early Christians.   On the road to Damascus Saul had an encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ (Acts of the Apostles 9:1–19, Galatians 1: 13–14).   Jesus asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”   Paul replied, “Who are you, sir?”   Jesus responded, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9: 4 – 5).   Jesus then sent Saul into Damascus to wait for further instructions.   Saul was shaken and blinded by the experience.   When a Christian named Ananias came and baptised Saul, his blindness went away.   As a result of this encounter Saul became a follower of Christ.   He was now convinced that fellowship with the risen Jesus Christ, not the observance of the Law, was all that was needed to receive God’s promise of salvation. (Galatians 1:11–12; 3:1–5)header 1 conversionHEADER 2 - conversion of st paulheader - conversionStPaulEscalante

Saul, whose name now became Paul, went to Jerusalem to consult with Peter (Galatians 1: 18).   After his first missionary journeys, Paul was called by Jesus to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles.   He spent the rest of his life journeying on his missions, establishing local churches and writing to them when he heard of their accomplishments and failures.   Paul’s letters are the earliest records of the life and history of the early Church.   As inspired by the Holy Spirit Paul’s letters are part of the Canon of the New Testament.   As a record of the happenings in the early Church they are in invaluable record of the expansion of the Christianity.LARGE - conversion - caravaggio

St Paul’s Writings

All together, there are 13 epistles that bear Paul’s name as the author.   However, scholars do not believe that he wrote them all.   Paul himself was the author of first and second Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, first and second Corinthians, Romans and Philemon.  The epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, Titus and first and second Timothy bear Paul’s name but it is believed that they were written after his death.   The writers of these letters were disciples of Paul who wanted to continue his teaching.   Whoever the authors of these epistles were, these writings have been accepted into the New Testament as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Centrality of Jesus Christ

The most profound and moving day in Paul’s life was when he met the risen Jesus Christ. Paul was well respected by the Jewish community and his peers.   But he gave it all up for Christ.  “More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8) Jesus Christ, Paul realised, was sent by the Father to bring salvation for all.   Paul taught that we are united with Christ in faith and Baptism – “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

On the personal level, individual Christians recognise that when they are united with Christ, they receive the grace needed to overcome sin and to live moral lives.  (Galatians 5:16–26)conversion of st paul 2conversion of st paul - LARGE VERSION detail

Justification

Paul teaches that the justice of God was saving justice at its best.   God is faithful, fulfilling the promises made in the Old Testament covenant.   Through the sin of Adam and Eve the human family was alienated from God.   Through Christ the human family is called back into relationship with God.   This process of reuniting the human family with God is called justification. (Romans 3:21–31)   It is impossible for us to justify ourselves; we are only justified by being united in faith with Jesus Christ and by accepting the gift of grace won by Christ. (Romans 5:1–2)   We can only be made right with God and set free from a life of immoral living by accepting the gift of God’s reconciling grace.

Life in the Spirit

Paul teaches that the love of God is being poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5)   The Holy Spirit is the source of all love.   The Holy Spirit creates a bond between us and God like children bound to a father.  (Romans 8:14–16)   The Holy Spirit not only establishes our relationship with the Father.   Even though we are weak, the Holy Spirit helps us to live faithfully within that relationship. (Romans 8:26–27) It is through the Holy Spirit that we can live in love with all people. (1 Corinthians 13:3–7)

The Moral Life

What does it mean to live a Christian moral life?   Paul thought deeply about this question.   He was raised as a faithful Jew.   As we have seen Paul, was raised to believe that following the strict moral code of the Jewish faith was the way to salvation.   Paul believed “… the law is holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Romans 7:12.)   What Paul realised, however, that because we are weakened by the sin of Adam and Eve, it was impossible to us to reconnect in our relationship with God through our efforts alone (Romans 7:14).

After his experience with Jesus Christ, Paul knew that he was not alone on the road to salvation.   Jesus Christ has already accomplished salvation for us.   In faith and Baptism, Christians receive the grace of the Holy Spirit, who is our constant guide.   The Holy Spirit helps us to live in relationship with God and others.

So Paul’s great message to the world was:  You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do.   Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more “works” than the Law could ever contemplate.

St Paul Pray for us!conversion-of-st-paul-2018

Posted in FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, SAINT of the DAY

Feast of the Conversion of St Paul and Memorials of the Saints – 25 January

Conversion of Paul the Apostle (Feast)


St Agape the Martyr
St Agileus of Carthage
St Amarinus of Clermont
St Ananias of Damascus
Bl Antoni Swiadek
Bl Antonio Migliorati
St Apollo of Heliopolis
Bl Archangela Girlani
St Artemas of Pozzuoli
St Auxentius of Epirus
St Bretannion of Tomi
St Donatus the Martyr
St Dwynwen
St Emilia Fernández Rodríguez de Cortés
St Eochod of Galloway
Bl Francesco Zirano
Bl Henry Suso
St Joel of Pulsano
St Juventinus of Antioch
Bl Manuel Domingo y Sol
St Maximinus of Antioch
St Palaemon
St Poppo
St Praejectus of Clermont
St Publius of Zeugma
St Racho of Autun
St Sabinus the Martyr
Bl Teresa Grillo Michel