The Conversion of Saint Paul

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The Conversion of Saint Paul

Apostle to the Gentiles
(36 A.D.)

The great Apostle Paul, named Saul at his circumcision, was born in Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, and was by that privilege a Roman citizen, to which quality a great distinction and several exemptions were granted by the laws of the Empire. He was early instructed in the strict observance of the Mosaic law, and lived up to it in the most scrupulous manner. In his zeal for the Jewish law, which he believed to be the divine Cause of God, he became a violent persecutor of the Christians. He was one of those who combined to murder Saint Stephen, and then he presided in the violent persecution of the faithful which followed the holy deacon’s martyrdom. By virtue of the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses, loaded them with chains, and thrust them into prison. In the fury of his zeal he applied for a commission to seize in Damascus all Jews who confessed Jesus Christ, and to bring them in bonds to Jerusalem, that they might serve as examples for the others.

But God was pleased to manifest in him His patience and mercy. While Saul was journeying to Damascus, he and his party were surrounded by a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, and suddenly the chief was struck to the ground. And then a voice was heard saying, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? And Saul answered, Who art Thou, Lord? and the voice replied, I am Jesus, whom you persecute. This mild admonition of Our Redeemer, accompanied with a powerful interior grace, cured Saul’s pride, assuaged his rage, and wrought at once a total change in him. Therefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out, Lord, what wilt Thou have me do? Our Lord ordered him to proceed on his way to the city of Damascus, where he would be informed of what was expected of him. Saul, arising from the ground, found that although his eyes were open, he saw nothing.

He was led into the city, where he was lodged in the house of a Christian named Judas. To this house came by divine appointment a holy man named Ananias, who, laying his hands on Saul, said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your journey, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he recovered his sight; then he arose and was baptized. He stayed a few days with the disciples at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an Apostle, and chosen as one of God’s principal instruments in the conversion of the world.

Reflection. Listen to the words of The Imitation of Christ, and let them sink into your heart: He who would keep the grace of God, let him be grateful for grace when it is given, and patient when it is taken away. Let him pray that it may be given back to him, and be careful and humble, lest he lose it.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); The Holy Bible: Old and New Testaments

INSTRUCTION ON THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

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INSTRUCTION ON THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

The Church’s Year
Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine

INTROIT Adore God, all ye His angels: Sion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Juda rejoiced. The Lord hath reigned; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad. (Ps. XCVI. 1.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT Almighty everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmity, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty for our protection. Through etc.

EPISTLE (Rom. XII. 16-21.) Brethren, be not wise in your own conceits. To no man rendering evil for evil: providing good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, having peace with all men; not revenging yourselves, my dearly beloved but give place unto wrath; for it is written: Revenge is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink; for doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.

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Saint Timothy

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Saint Timothy

Bishop of Ephesus and Martyr
(† 97)

Saint Timothy was a convert of Saint Paul, born at Lystra in Asia Minor. His mother was a daughter of Israel, but his father was a pagan, and though Timothy had read the Scriptures from his childhood, he had never been circumcised. On the arrival of Saint Paul at Lystra the youthful Timothy, with his mother and grandmother, eagerly embraced the faith. Seven years later, when the Apostle again visited the country, the boy had grown into manhood. His good heart, his austerities and zeal had won the esteem of all around him, and holy men were prophesying great things of the fervent youth. Saint Paul at once saw his fitness for the work of an evangelist, and Timothy was ordained a priest. From that time on he was the constant and much-beloved fellow-worker of the Apostle.

In company with Saint Paul he visited the cities of Asia Minor and Greece, once hastening on ahead as a trusted messenger, at another time lingering behind to confirm in the faith a recently founded church. Eventually he was made the first Bishop of Ephesus; and there he received the two epistles of his master which bear his name, the first written from Macedonia and the second from Rome, where Saint Paul from his prison expresses his longing desire to see his dearly beloved son, once more, if possible, before his death. It is not certain whether Saint Timothy arrived in Rome in time, but devotion to Saint Timothy has always been strong in Rome, which seems to argue for his presence at the martyrdom of his spiritual father.

Saint Timothy was of a tender and affectionate disposition, and certainly found his role in the idolatrous city of Ephesus difficult to sustain. Saint Paul, when he writes to Timothy, then a tested servant of God and a bishop advancing in years, addresses him as he would his own child, and seems most anxious about his forcefulness in his demanding role. His disciple’s health was fragile, and Saint Paul counsels him to take a little wine for his digestion. Saint Timothy is the Angel of the Church of Ephesus of the Apocalypse, its bishop whom Our Lord, too, exhorted to remember his original faith and piety.

Not many years after the death of Saint Paul, Timothy, who had surely profited from these counsels, won a martyr’s crown at Ephesus, when on a feast day of the goddess Diana, whose temple stood in that city, he entered into the ungovernable crowd to calm it, exhorting these souls, deprived of the light of truth, to renounce vain worship and embrace Christianity. Wild with idolatrous passion, a pagan struck down the bishop of the Christians, thus freeing him to join his beloved spiritual father in the realm of the Blessed.

Reflection. All Christians can profit, like Saint Paul’s disciple, from Our Lord’s admonition and the great Apostle’s letters. It is remarkable what great stress Saint Paul lays on the avoidance of idle talk, and on application to holy reading. These are his chief topics. He exhorts his son Timothy to avoid tattlers and busybodies; to give no heed to novelties; to shun profane and vain chatter, but hold to sound teaching; to be an example in words and conversation; to attend to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine. Let us faithfully follow these excellent counsels.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); The Holy Bible: Old and New Testaments.