Did you ever come across a treasure that was right under your eyes and all of a sudden discovered it as a new-found precious gift?
That's what happened to me—but it was more of a gradual discovery. When I entered the Daughters of St. Paul fifty-seven years ago, I was introduced to Saint Paul with a copy of his Epistles in a translation that was a bit scholarly and hard for my teenage mind to grasp. But over the years, with the encouragement of our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, I learned to love these writings and gradually came to understand the meaning and wealth of the love of Jesus in St. Paul’s heart.
In the words of our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, here are seven reasons to get to know Saint Paul, one of the greatest saints ever!
1. St. Paul is a wonderful model of prayer and virtue
"St. Paul possessed the contemplative life because he attended to prayer and penance in the desert and throughout his life.
"He was a man of prayer; the spirit of prayer was what sustained him amid many difficulties.
"Paul's prayer is a canticle of gratefulness. He does not know egoism, and he imitates Jesus in his thanksgivings to the Father.
"The prayer of St. Paul lifts to God the needs of all people."
2. St. Paul was an innovative evangelizer in his time...and can help us evangelize today
"If St. Paul were alive today he would use all the means of communication to bring Jesus to souls."
“The Pauline Family was raised up by St. Paul as a means of continuing his work. St. Paul is once more alive, but composed today of many members and called us. We must do what he would do if he were alive today. And if he were alive, what would he do? He would fulfill the two great commandments as he knew how to fulfill them: loving God with all his heart, all his strength, all his mind, and loving his neighbor unsparingly because he lived Christ. ‘Christ lives in me.’ ”
“Saint Paul would use the greatest pulpits of modern progress: press, film, radio, television, (social media, and digital communications) to announce the thrilling discovery of the doctrine of love and salvation found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
3. St. Paul was good at networking
In a recent article entitled "Social Network," Fr. Alessandro Paone wrote how Saint Paul was a networker: “Recalling how much St. Paul accomplished through the promptings of the Spirit, we can’t let this great possibility escape us. The Apostle of the Gentiles, that tireless evangelizer, visited foreign lands, wove relationships and strengthened his connections with people by correspondence and by sending persons dear to him to the communities he founded. If we think of the actual communities in the web and the possibilities of keeping in touch with others through e-mail, chat and video chat sites, telephones and e-conferencing, we realize very quickly that we have at our disposal extremely swift and efficacious instruments that can make us new evangelizers in today’s new courtyard of the gentiles.”
4. Reading Saint Paul will strengthen us spiritually
“Everyone who has developed a taste for reading St. Paul has become a sturdy soul."
"Most faithful disciple of the Divine Master, Paul is a great teacher of truth. Every letter describes to us at least one aspect of the Master. Whoever reads St. Paul and becomes familiar with him begins gradually to acquire a spirit similar to his."
The Church certainly wants us to read Saint Paul's letters: the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, and the Divine Office are filled with the writings of St. Paul. For me, reading the letters that he wrote with such ardor is certainly a program, or strategy, for my life.
5. Saint Paul lived in Christ Jesus so completely, that he could truthfully say, "Christ lives in me"
“St. Paul is the disciple who knows the Divine Master in all His fullness. He lives Him completely. He searches the profound mysteries of His doctrine, heart, holiness, humanity and divinity. He sees Him as the supreme Teacher, the Host, the Priest. He presents the total Christ as he had already defined Himself: the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
6. St. Paul is the apostle of love
St Paul’s heart is bursting with love. If you have any doubts, read the famous passage from 1 Corinthians 13. Another beautiful prayer of St. Paul for his gentile converts can be found in Ephesians 3:14-21.
"One who approaches St. Paul is transformed little by little, learns to live as Paul did and to pray like him. One who loves St. Paul soon opens up his heart and becomes generous, broadminded in his views. St. Paul doesn't appear to him as a stern wielder of the sword, but rather the most tender and ardent lover of Jesus Christ."
7. St. Paul is an awesome teacher, model, and protector—as he's proven by how he takes care of the Pauline Family
“The life of our Pauline Family comes from the Eucharist, but it is communicated by St. Paul. St. Paul is the true founder of our religious congregation. For us, he is Teacher, Model and Protector.... It was not we, the members of the Pauline Family, who chose St. Paul but he who chose us.”