Wednesday, January 24, 2007

January 25: the Conversion of St. Paul

January 25 - if I've got my dates right - is the day the Church celebrates the conversion of St. Paul. You can read about the actual event in Acts 9.

Patrick Henry Reardon has this observation on the event:

"In Jesus' words to the persecutor of Christians (“Why are you persecuting Me!”), we should see the seed that would grow into Paul's doctrine of the Church as “the body of Christ.” His three-day fast in preparation for baptism, a sort of early Lent, became standard in the Church for centuries to come."

Fr. Reardon - whose excellent book Christ in His Saints is my current devotional reading - always points things out to me that I've never noticed before. Whenever I read his work, I get the eerie feeling that the man has the whole Bible memorized. In the original languages. In fact, I'd be surprised if he doesn't. Anyway, enough to say, these two short sentences provide lots of meditation material for today's feast.

When Jesus talked to Paul, He asked him why he was persecuting Him, when who Paul was persecuting was the Church. Thanks to God's work through Paul, we know we are the Body of Christ. And that's a reason to celebrate today!

And when we see Paul respond to his conversion with prayer and fasting, it reminds me how much time I ought to take to listen and how much attention I ought to pay when the Lord talks to me. Lord have mercy on me.

So today, on the day of the Conversion of St. Paul, I'm going to try to think about being a part of the body of Christ. And maybe imitate Paul in praying, thanking God for graciously making me part of that Body. (And to thank him for St. Paul, and Fr. Reardon, and other men who know how to open the word of God so that it may be understood! Seriously, whenever I hit a thorny point of theology, my first question is WWPS? or, What Would Paul Say? It's a question that's stood me in good stead. :D )

peace of Christ to you,

p.s. Anyone know if the Conversion of Saint Paul is a saint's day, or is it a feast day? Or isn't there a difference?

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Emily said...

I'm confused - do you mean March 25th or January 25th?

Ash said...

I just found your blog via WFMW, and I've been scanning your archives. I, too, am an Anglican stay-at-home mother of two, and I am enjoying your reflections. My husband used to work for Touchstone, and I can tell you, Fr.Pat does pretty much have the whole Bible memorized in the original languages!