Tag Archives: St Paul

St Paul’s Conversion

Conversion of St PaulO glorious St. Paul, who from a persecutor of Christianity, didst become a most ardent apostle of zeal; and who, to make known the Savior Jesus Christ unto the ends of the world, didst suffer with joy imprisonment, scourging, stoning, ship-wrecks and persecutions of every kind, and in the end didst shed thy blood to the last drop, obtain for us the grace to receive, as favors of the Divine Mercy, infirmities, tribulations, and misfortunes of the present life, so that the vicissitudes of this our exile will not render us cold in the service of God, but will render us always more faithful and more fervent.  Amen.

The 25th of January this year is a Sunday so the feast is not commemorated in the NO Liturgy but a clued-in preacher will be able to link the Scripture readings with Paul’s move from persecutor to Apostle of Jesus Christ. The missionary impulse of the Church needs to follow the paradigm we find in Paul: meet the Lord first, know and love the Lord, and then share call to holiness to all nations.

All I have is what I love

It is said that one of our late Benedictine abbesses said, “All I have is what I love!” This is what learned in homily today at Vespers.

A true judgment of man’s spirit and humanity. It is a touchstone in understanding who each of us is before God and others. The question” What do I love?” needs to be asked and answered daily. In fact, that is what happens in the daily Ignatian Examen. The discovery in answering this question is a work.

But as fragile people we are easily distracted; we can fool ourselves by making excuses, and rationales get in the way. Still, “What do I love” requires a concrete answer. What specifically do I love? Deeper down, a love holds my heart?
What stands out in what St Paul said today in his Letter to the Philippians:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.

St Paul’s letter can remain in the abstract and useless without going deeper in ascertaining the meaning of the various points the Apostle raises viz. our experience. Hence, we have to ask: What do I think is true? What is does it means to act honorably? What difference does purity make? What does the word gracious mean to mean?
It seems that this matter one of several keys for the spiritual life, and not mere word-smithing and academic argumentation. What it does necessitate, I have learned, is a disciplined focus of mind and heart in working with divine revelation.

Christ cannot be divided, Pope urges

At Solemn Vespers for the Solemnity of the Conversion of Saint Paul this evening, Pope Francis preached the following homily at the Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls.

“Has Christ been divided?” (1 Cor 1:13). The urgent appeal which Saint Paul makes at the beginning of his First Letter to the Corinthians, and which has been proclaimed at this evening’s liturgy, was chosen by a group of our fellow Christians in Canada as the theme for our meditation during this year’s Week of Prayer.

The Apostle was grieved to learn that the Christians of Corinth had split into different factions. Some claimed: “I belong to Paul”; while others claimed: “I belong to Apollos” or “I belong to Cephas”, and others yet claimed: “I belong to Christ” (cf. v. 12). Paul could not even praise those who claimed to belong to Christ, since they were using the name of the one Savior to set themselves apart from their other brothers and sisters within the community. In other words, the particular experience of each individual, or an attachment to certain significant persons in the community, had become a yardstick for judging the faith of others.

Amid this divisiveness, Paul appeals to the Christians of Corinth “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” to be in agreement, so that divisions will not reign among them, but rather a perfect union of mind and purpose (cf. v. 10). The communion for which the Apostle pleads, however, cannot be the fruit of human strategies. Perfect union among brothers and sisters can only come from looking to the mind and heart of Christ Jesus (cf. Phil 2:5). This evening, as we gather here in prayer, may we realize that Christ, who cannot be divided, wants to draw us to himself, to the sentiments of his heart, to his complete and confident surrender into the hands of the Father, to his radical self-emptying for love of humanity. Christ alone can be the principle, the cause and the driving force behind our unity.

As we find ourselves in his presence, we realize all the more that we may not regard divisions in the Church as something natural, inevitable in any form of human association. Our divisions wound Christ’s body, they impair the witness which we are called to give to him before the world. The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, appealing to the text of Saint Paul which we have reflected on, significantly states: “Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communities present themselves to people as the true inheritance of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but they differ in outlook and go their different ways, as if Christ were divided”. And the Council continues: “Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the sacred cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1).

Christ, dear friends, cannot be divided! This conviction must sustain and encourage us to persevere with humility and trust on the way to the restoration of full visible unity among all believers in Christ. Tonight I think of the work of two great Popes: Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. In the course of their own lives, both came to realize the urgency of the cause of unity and, once elected to the See of Peter, they guided the entire Catholic flock decisively on the paths of ecumenism. Pope John blazed new trails which earlier would have been almost unthinkable. Pope John Paul held up ecumenical dialogue as an ordinary and indispensable aspect of the life of each Particular Church. With them, I think too of Pope Paul VI, another great promoter of dialogue; in these very days we are commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his historic embrace with the Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople.

The work of these, my predecessors, enabled ecumenical dialogue to become an essential dimension of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, so that today the Petrine ministry cannot be fully understood without this openness to dialogue with all believers in Christ. We can say also that the journey of ecumenism has allowed us to come to a deeper understanding of the ministry of the Successor of Peter, and we must be confident that it will continue to do so in the future. As we look with gratitude to the progress which the Lord has enabled us to make, and without ignoring the difficulties which ecumenical dialogue is presently experiencing, let us all pray that we may put on the mind of Christ and thus progress towards the unity which he wills.

In this climate of prayer for the gift of unity, I address a cordial and fraternal greeting to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and to His Grace David Moxon, the personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the representatives of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities gathered here this evening.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord Jesus, who has made us living members of his body, to keep us deeply united to him, to help us overcome our conflicts, our divisions and our self-seeking, and to be united to one another by one force, by the power of love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5). Amen.

Conversion of Saint Paul

Conversion of St PaulWith the Church we pray,

O God, who taught the whole world through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, draw us, we pray, nearer to you through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world.

As the Mass prayer illustrates for us, Saint Paul, the once persecutor of Christians, is now called by Christ to preach the Good News, to heal people, and to give witness to the Truth of Jesus to the world.

As our first theologian we learn from Saint Paul of the newness generated by the Lord in the heart of each person who places his or her trust in Him.

I am remind today that one of the aims of Pope Benedict in calling for the Year of Faith which Saint Paul indicates with key tools for conversion:

is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 5:31). For Saint Paul, this Love ushers us into a new life: “We were buried … with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. “Faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life (cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:20-29; 2 Cor 5:17).

Conversion of Saint Paul

Conv of St Paul Granger.jpg

O God, who taught the whole world through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, draw us, we pray, nearer to you through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world.

“Today, there is a great need for reconciliation, dialogue and mutual understanding,” in contemporary culture, said Pope Benedict XVI.

Let’s pray for the unity of Christians…

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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