The Conversion of St. Paul
THE great apostle Paul, named Saul at his circumcision, was born at Tarsus, the capital of Silicia, and was by 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 thought the cause of God, he became a violent persecutor of the Christians. He was one of those who combined to murder St. Stephen, and in the violent persecution of the faithful which followed the martyrdom of the holy deacon, Saul signalized himself above others. 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 take up all Jews at Damascus who confessed Jesus Christ, and bring them bound to Jerusalem, that they might serve as examples for the others. But God was pleased to show forth in him His patience and mercy. While on his way to Damascus, he and his party were surrounded by a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, and suddenly struck to the ground. And then a voice was heard saying, "Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute Me?" And Saul answered, "Who art Thou, Lord?" and the voice replied, "I am Jesus, Whom thou dost persecute." This mild expostulation 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. Wherefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Our Lord ordered him to arise and to proceed on his way to the city, where he should be informed of what was expected from him. Saul, arising from the ground, found that, though his eyes were open, he saw nothing. He was led by hand into Damascus, where he was lodged in the house of a Jew 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 thee on thy journey, hath sent me that thou mayest receive thy 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 some 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 con. version 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."
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS
Commemoration of St. Peter
Introit • 2 Tim. 1, 12
I know whom I have believed and I am certain that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him, against that day; being a just judge. Ps. 138, 1, 2. Lord, Thou hast proved me and known me: Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up. Glory be …
O God, Who hast taught the whole world by the preaching of blessed Paul, Thy apostle, we beseech Thee, grant us, who this day celebrate his conversion, that we may advance toward Thee by following his example. Through our Lord.
Commemoration of St. Peter.
O God, Who committing to blessed Peter, Thine apostle, the keys of the heavenly kingdom, didst bestow on him the pontifical function of binding and loosing, grant that, by the help of his intercession, we may be delivered from the bonds of our sins. Who livest.
Epistle • Acts 9, 1-22
Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles.
[Paul's conversion and zeal. Peter heals Eneas and raises up Tabitha to life.]
In those days, Saul, And asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus; and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him. And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.
And he trembling and astonished, said: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do. Now the men who went in company with him, stood amazed, hearing indeed a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. But they leading him by the hands, brought him to Damascus. And he was there three days, without sight, and he did neither eat nor drink. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias. And the Lord said to him in a vision: Ananias. And he said: Behold I am here, Lord.
And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the street that is called Stait, and seek in the house of Judas, one named Saul of Tarsus. For behold he prayeth. (And he saw a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hands upon him, that he might receive his sight.) But Ananias answered: Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that invoke thy name. And the Lord said to him: Go thy way; for this man is to me a vessel of election, to carry my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.
For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name' s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house. And laying his hands upon him, he said: Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus hath sent me, he that appeared to thee in the way as thou camest; that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and rising up, he was baptized. And when he had taken meat, he was strengthened. And he was with the disciples that were at Damascus, for some days. And immediately he preached Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
And all that heard him, were astonished, and said: Is not this he who persecuted in Jerusalem those that called upon this name: and came hither for that intent, that he might carry them bound to the chief priests? But Saul increased much more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, affirming that this is the Christ Jesus.
Gradual • Gal 2, 8, 9
He who wrought in Peter to apostleship, wrought in me, also among the gentiles, and thy knew the grace of God which was given to me. The grace of God in me hath not been void; but His grace always remaineth in me.
Alleluia, alleluia. The great saint Paul, the vessel of election, is truly worthy of all glory; for he hath deserved to possess the twelfth throne. Alleluia.
Gospel • Matt. 19, 27-29
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[Christ declares matrimony to be indissoluble: he recommends the making one's self an eunuch for the kingdom of heaven; and parting with all things for him. He shews the danger of riches, and the reward of leaving all to follow him.]
At THAT time, Peter said to Jesus, Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them, Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of His majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for My name' s sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall possess life everlasting.
Offertory • Ps. 138, 17
But to me Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable: their principality is exceedingly strengthened.
Through the prayer of Paul, Thy Apostle, sanctify, O Lord, the offerings of Thy people, that what is pleasing to Thee by Thine own ordinance, may become more pleasing by the favor of his supplication. Through our Lord.
Commemoration of St. Peter.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, that the prayer of the blessed apostle Peter may commend the sacrifices ad supplications of Thy Church, so that the celebration we hold for his glory may profit for our pardon. Through our Lord.
Communion • Matt. 19, 28-29
Amen I say to you, that you who have left all things and followed Me, shall receive a hundred-fold, and possess life everlasting.
Sanctify by this saving mystery, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that he, under whose patronage Thou hast vouchsafed to place us, may not fail to intercede for us. Through our Lord.
Commemoration of St. Peter.
Let the gift we offer bring us joy, O Lord, that, as we declare Thee wonderful in Thine apostle Peter, so through him we may share the generosity of Thy forgiveness. Through our Lord.