Monday, April 25, 2005

St. Paul today!

The Pope visited the basilica of St. Paul and said:

"I thank God because at the beginning of my ministry as Successor of Peter he grants me to pause in prayer before the sepulcher of the Apostle Paul. For me, this is a much longed for pilgrimage, a gesture of faith that I make in my name, but also in the name of the beloved Diocese of Rome, of which the Lord has constituted me Bishop and Pastor, and of the universal Church entrusted to my pastoral care. A pilgrimage so to speak to the roots of the mission, of that mission that the risen Christ entrusted to Peter, to the Apostles and, in particular also to Paul, leading him to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles, until he reached this city where, after having preached the Kingdom of God for a long time (Acts 28:31), he rendered with blood the last testimony of his Lord, who had 'made him his own' (Philippians 3:12) and sent him."

As a Daughter of St. Paul, this statement fascinated me: a pilgrimage to St. Paul's tomb is a pilgrimage to the roots of the mission of the Church. At the beginning of his Petrine ministry, Benedict is also reaffirming the Pauline ministry.

Mother Paula, the sister who started our community here in the States, used to lament the fact that devotion to St. Paul was not terribly popular among Catholics. She could never get used to St. Jude being more popular than St. Paul. She had a real point. I'd be interested to hear about how you look at St. Paul. Is he a saint you can feel familiar with?


Nancy Ullrey said...

I love St. Paul, and he is definately a saint with whom I can identify. I agree with Sr. Paula's wonderment as to why he is not as beloved as some of our other saints, I think he's great. I studied hm and his writings a bit during my New Testament class, but I haven't yet studied his writings as thoroughly as I would like. I suspect some people may not warm up to him because he is so confident of his life in Christ. I'm taking a sabbatical from my lay ministry this year (adult initiation) and I hope to study St. Paul more during this time.

If you have any suggestions regarding studying St. Paul, I'd love to read them. Thank you in advance.

Joanne said...

Interesting question. We grow up knowing him as the guy who wrote all those epistles.

I guess that if I look at Sts. Peter and Paul, I think of Paul as more of the first theologian, and Peter as a fearless leader from the heart and emotional side. That's simplifying things, I know, but that's my gut reaction. Paul faced the threat of persecution bravely. But I think of him mostly through his written words.

I think we could all benefit from more serious scholarly study of the writings of Paul.

Lawrence King said...

Hmm! I think that St Paul, for me, is sort of like Cardinal Ratzinger two weeks ago: I know a lot about his ideas, but not a lot about him.

Paul is so much larger-than-life in Acts that he's almost a superhero. Peter, Thomas, Mary Magdalene -- they are so very human to me. In fact, one of the few places that Paul comes across as really human is in the Pastoral Letters (especially 1 Tim 5:23 and 2 Tim 4:9-13)*, and when he wouldn't let Mark travel with him a second time in Acts.

Also, when the person of Paul is discussed, the issue of "was he misogynist?" and "was he arrogant?" always comes up. And as a man I'm usually not happy to have to defend all of Paul's words about women, but neither do I want to disavow them....

* As a side point, this is one reason I am not happy with the proposal that Paul didn't really write the Pastoral Letters!

Sr. Lorraine said...

Hi Nancy,
A couple good books are Paul: A Critical Life by Jerome Murphy-O'Connor and The Theology of Paul the Apostle by James Dunn.

I think that Lawrence brought up a good point--the idea that Paul was misogynist is part of the reason some people don't find him appealing. But some of what he said, like about women being silent in church, etc., was reflecting the cultural practice of the time. Paul does mention several women in his letters, showing that he worked with them to some extent. That shows a great openness, I think, especially because it was a time when women in general were looked down on.

sapaix said...

I have always loved St Paul!His letters speak directly to me.I guess some people think loving St Paul means loving St Peter less.They don't understand that the two can go together.It's fascinating that he writes like a disciple who lived and walked with Jesus before the crucifixtion and Resurrection yet he was called after and lived as close to Jesus as the first disciples.He is a true Apostle!

Anonymous said...

There is a great book called "Woman and Man in Paul" that explains a lot. However, it is pretty scholarly (untransliterated Greek and so on, but full of historical insights that make so many things, not just in Paul but in Church life, a lot more understandable.