Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Conversion of St. Paul

Although there are many other things I want to post about, this must take priority, so as to be here in time for tomorrow's Feast. Not only because I promised the Facebook Catholic Writer's Society I would, but because together with another Dom Gueranger post for 'In the Sight of Angels', it will help me to re-focus on essentials and prepare myself spiritually for tomorrow.

Follows an another extract from 'Gardening with God' (Burns and Oates Continuum International 2002)

"I begin today by looking again at Albrecht Durer's painting of Saint Paul with Saint Mark. The great apostle stands in front of the evangelist. He is side-on to our view and conceals all but the head and shoulders of the much shorter Mark. His face is half turned to us so that we see the piercing gleam in his left eye. The zeal it expresses is startling and forbidding, and I found it quite frightening when I first saw it. But now I have come to think that Durer is showing the fierceness of Paul's love for Christ and his young Church, and his willingness to endure anything and everything on their behalf. He stands in impregnable defence of the written Gospel in the person of Mark, who is looking at him in what seems a mixture of awe and confidence. Indeed no one would attack him with Durer's Paul in the way. It is a work of tremendous power, and my intitial fear has evaporated with repeated viewing. Paul is not repulsing me: rather I can get behing him and, with St. Mark, feel the security of his protection against a hostile world.

After the painting, the reading of Acts 9:1-22 and Acts 22: 1-21. The first is a third-person description of Paul's conversion; the second, Paul's own account of the event that changed his life and, because of God's purpose for him, that of every Gentile who has since embraced the Christian faith. Tne Church celebrates this today and invites us to enjoy its dramatic, faith-strengthening elements, but she also wants to draw us more deeply into knowledge of Paul's missionary activity and into his theology. If we have time it would be good to start a systematic reading of his letters. This would fit well with suggestions made for an approach to Lent outlined in Part One of this book.

Selected Bible Readings (for today)

1 Thess. 4:13 - 5:11; 2 Thess: 1-12 The Second Coming of Christ
Rom. 1:18 - 8:39; Galatians 1:6-24 Paul's gospel preaching
1 Corinth Paul sorts out disorder of various kinds
2 Corinth. 1:8-14; 3:1 - 6:10 Paul's love and endurance in ministry
Eph. 1 - 3 The Divine Plan
Col. 1:15 - 2:5 Christ and Paul's task
Phil. 1:12-26; 4:1-20 Imprisonment and living in Christ
Philem: A private letter to a convert and friends
1 Tim. 1: 12-16 'I acted in ignorance and unbelief.'
1 Corinth. 15:9 'I persecuted God's Church; I am the least of the apostles.'
Acts 26:16b-18 You must tell others what you have seen
Gal 1:11-24 God made Christ known to Paul so that he could preach his gospel

Mark 16: 15-18 Proclaim the good news to the world.
John 15:16 I have chosen you. Go out and bear fruit that will last.

(And bearing in mind what the Holy Father said this last Wednesday about conversion of the heart:
"Place of Spiritual Retreat: On the road to Damascus with Paul and his companions as in Acts 22."

copyright Jane Mossendew 2002

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