Wednesday, December 29, 2010

St. Paul the Apostle (c.5 to c.67)

  "Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes in all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."
      (St. Paul the Apostle)

  Since I started writing "A Sinner's Guide to the Saints," at the beginning of the year, I've encountered people of all faiths who have expressed an interest in my blog. They want to know what inspired me, ask me specific questions, or are eager to tell their own stories about Roman Catholic saints.
  But, perhaps one of the most interesting things I've noticed is that many lapsed Catholics, who claim they will never go to Mass again and bash the church, are hooked on my blog.
  Since I only have three entries left, I feel compelled to mention a letter I just finishing reading in the local Catholic newspaper by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, my homestate. It's one of the most insightful things I've read all year. In it, Bishop Tobin encourages "inactive Catholics" to return to the church.
  He doesn't say former Catholic because once you're baptized a Catholic, you're one for life (your soul is infused with Catholic DNA). And, forget fallen Catholic. Bishop Tobin states it reminds him of someone falling out of a tree or off a fence.
  Next, he states four reasons that people are inactive Catholics, myself included. I think I fall under #4. (#1 doesn't apply to me because I tend to make my own rules.)
  1. You disagree with the teachings and practices of the church. (Matters of faith and morals aren't negotiable. They can't be changed. They were given to us by Christ.  He encourages readers to understand what the church teaches and why.)
  2. You found it boring and didn't get anything out of it. (He agrees that sometimes church leaders haven't fed the flock very well, haven't provided sound and challenging teaching and preaching, and haven't very kind or welcoming. He also apologizes, then says it's not all about us. It's about God and we should go to Mass to ask forgiveness, thank him, pray for others, and to receive the Body and Blood of Christ adding you can't do that anywhere else.)
 3. You left the church because another member of the church offended or disappointed you. (He says that bishops and priests included are completely human and often make statements that are unacceptable or even immoral. We belong to a community of sinners and that the virtue of forgiveness is an essential part of Christian life. He suggests we give it another try.)
 4. You left the church because of your own spiritual laziness. (The ball's in our court. We must think about our relationship with God and understand how important the church is in helping us fulfill our God-given potential. It was founded by Christ and is guided by the Holy Spirit. He says that the church has much to offer and if we feel it's imperfect in serving its mission, in serving the Lord, and caring for one another, perhaps we can help it to do better.)
   Bishop Tobin concludes by saying that inactive Catholics should return to the church and if there's an issue or problem to contact our local parish or him. Again, his letter was brilliant.
  St. Paul the Apostle is a patron saint of many things including the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island and evangelists. He was born c.5 in Tarsus, Turkey.
  St. Paul the Apostle was known as Saul the Jew and persecuted Christians. On his way to Syria one day between the years 33 and 36, he was struck to the ground and blinded by a heavenly light. The message was that by persecuting Christians, he was persecuting Christ.
  He then changed his ways. St. Paul the Apostle was baptized a Christian and spent the rest of his life teaching the words of Christ. Thirteen of his epistles are in the New Testament. He was beheaded in Rome, Italy c.67.
  St. Paul the Apostle shares his feast day, June 29, with St. Peter as the Solemnity of  Saints Peter and St. Paul.

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