(OSV News) — Paul was born about 8 A.D., in what is now Turkey. He was a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee. Saul was his Jewish name; Paul was his Roman name. Paul was a tentmaker by profession.
The letters, or epistles, of St. Paul make up one-third of the New Testament. Thirteen letters are attributed to Paul: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
Paul was beheaded outside the walls of Rome during the reign of Nero, probably between a.d. 65 and 67. Tradition has always maintained that Paul was buried where the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls now stands. Current archaeological evidence confirms this tradition; the chapel of relics in the basilica contains a set of chains said to be those which bound Paul in the last days before his execution.
How would God choose such a man to be an Apostle who, prior to his conversion, even persecuted Christians? And how did this man succeed in proclaiming the Gospel with such power that it earned him the title “Founder of the Christian Church”? We know the answer to this from St. Paul’s own words: “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
In a 2007 homily, Pope Benedict XVI said: “The extraordinary apostolic results that [Paul] was able to achieve cannot, therefore, be attributed to brilliant rhetoric or refined apologetic and missionary strategies. The success of his apostolate depended above all on his personal involvement in proclaiming the Gospel with total dedication to Christ; a dedication that feared neither risk, [nor] difficulty, nor persecution.”
In light of this, what challenges — many of which may seem insurmountable — do we face in our own lives? Are we focused on living our lives or living our Faith, as St. Paul did? Are we allowing Christ to live — to breathe, speak, walk, and reach out — in our daily lives, beyond Sunday Mass?
Ways to grow closer to St. Paul:
Read St. Paul’s Writings:
– Select a book about St. Paul for spiritual reading.
– Invite others to celebrate the life of Paul through a group Bible study.
Make a Mini-Pilgrimage:
– Travel to churches and other places of pilgrimage dedicated to St. Paul in your area.
Pray in Faith and Thanksgiving:
– Pray for each of the countries to which Paul traveled. How are the Christians in that area of the world living out their faith?
– Pray for the unity of all Christian churches.
Spread the Gospel:
– Volunteer to be a catechist or serve in some other capacity in your parish.
– Participate in local ecumenical discussions.
– Donate to a missionary order and pray for their ministries.
Prayer to the Apostle Paul
Glorious St. Paul,
Most zealous Apostle,
Martyr for the love of Christ,
Give us a deep faith,
A steadfast hope,
A burning love for our Lord;
So that we can proclaim with you,
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ
who lives in me.”
Help us to become apostles
Serving the Church with a pure heart,
Witnesses to her truth and beauty
Amidst the darkness of our days.
With you we praise God, our Father:
“To Him be the glory, in the Church
and in Christ, now and forever.”