Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 13, 2009
Pauline Year opened hearts to the peace, joy of discipleship
Jubilee Mass ends a time of study and prayer of a pillar of the Church
St. Paul is depicted in a stained glass window at Edmonton's St. Paul's Anglican Church.
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - St. Paul, whose life was entirely oriented to Christ and to the proclamation of his Gospel, could help us get closer to the Lord, says Archbishop Richard Smith.
"As we close this jubilee year, our most fitting tribute to St. Paul is to ask him to lead us, by his intercession, to an ever deeper encounter with the Lord for whom he poured out his life as a libation," the archbishop said during the closing Mass of the Pauline Jubilee Year June 29 at St. Joseph's Basilica.
About a dozen priests and deacons plus Bishop Gary Gordon of Whitehorse assisted Smith at the Mass.
Over the past year, Catholics around the world celebrated the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul.
"In these months, we have paid particular attention to the person of Paul, as well as his writings and witness," the archbishop noted.
"It has been a period in which we have been renewed in our love for this man, who is one of the great pillars of the Church, together with St. Peter, whom we also honour today."
But Smith said if our reflections on St. Paul and his works have not led to a renewed encounter with Christ and a deeper commitment to follow the Lord, then the Pauline Year missed the mark.
PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL
"St. Paul's life was entirely oriented to Christ and to the proclamation of his Gospel," he said.
"Paul is the one who, in his letter to the Galatians, proclaimed 'I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.'"
Smith said the life of St. Paul and his place in the foundation and history of the Church is unique. At the same time, it is instructive of what happens in the life of anyone who truly encounters and accepts Jesus Christ as Lord.
"An encounter with the Lord brings about change. The conversion of the Apostle following his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus was dramatic and radical."
For most people the change is gentle and gradual.
"From St. Paul we learn the nature of this change. It is nothing less than configuration to Christ.
"Concretely, this means that anyone who grows in the knowledge and love of Christ will desire more and more to make of their lives what Paul made of his, a pouring out as a libation."
Smith said from St. Paul and St. Peter we learn three fundamentals of discipleship, the first being that the knowledge of Christ, which is the foundation and source of our lives, is a gift.
"Both of these great apostles came to know Christ by revelation from above, not by their own efforts," he noted.
"Jesus himself confirms this of St. Peter after the latter's great confession of the true identity of the Lord. 'Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.'"
While Paul was making his famous journey to Damascus, Jesus revealed himself to him.
"From this arises the need for us to pray constantly that God will lead us to a deeper knowledge of his Son, a prayer that is fulfilled in the gift of the Holy Spirit," Smith stressed.
We also learn from Peter and Paul that the difficulties and challenges one faces upon the decision to follow Christ need never be a cause for fear.
"Both experienced time and again the saving presence of Christ, who led and accompanied them at all times and rescued them from anything that threatened their mission."
Finally, we learn from Peter and Paul that "life lived in union with Christ brings a consolation and a peace that no hardship can erase," the archbishop said at the Mass.
Over the past year, Catholics in the Edmonton Archdiocese learned about St. Paul through discussion groups, lectures and conferences, the most prominent being Scripturefest 2008, which focused entirely on the Apostle to the Gentiles.
The monthly St. Paul discussion group that followed provided further opportunity for learning about the apostle.
"I would say the Year of St. Paul was a success because it allowed churchgoing Catholics to became more familiar with the life, the letters and the mission of St. Paul - the importance of who he is," said Gerard McLarney, archdiocesan coordinator for the Year of St. Paul in Edmonton.