Catholic Diocese of Wilmington

CELEBRATING THE YEAR OF SAINT PAUL JUNE 28, 2008-JUNE 29, 2009

A Pastoral Letter by Bishop Michael Saltarelli to the People of the Diocese of Wilmington for the January 25, 2008 Celebration of the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle and in Anticipation of the Year of Saint Paul proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI.

On the Eve of the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 28, 2007 at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, Pope Benedict XVI stated in his homily at Vespers: “Dear brothers and sisters, as in early times, today too Christ needs apostles ready to sacrifice themselves.  He needs witnesses and martyrs like St. Paul.  Paul, a former violent persecutor of Christians, when he fell to the ground dazzled by the divine light on the road to Damascus, did not hesitate to change sides to the Crucified One and followed him without second thoughts.  He lived and worked for Christ, for him he suffered and died. How timely is his example today!  And for this reason I am pleased to announce officially that we shall be dedicating a special Jubilee Year to the Apostle Paul from 28 June 2008 to 29 June 2009, on the occasion of the bimillenium of his birth, which historians have placed between the years 7 and 10 AD.  It will be possible to celebrate this ‘Pauline Year’ in a privileged way in Rome where the sarcophagus which, by the unanimous opinion of experts and an undisputed tradition, preserves the remains of the Apostle Paul, has been preserved beneath the Papal Altar of this Basilica for 20 centuries.”

This Pauline Year presents us with many opportunities to spread our Catholic faith here in the Diocese of Wilmington and beyond. I am writing to you in advance of the beginning of the Pauline Year so that the people of the Diocese can discern how best to study, pray and celebrate the life, inspired writing, spirituality and missionary spirit of Saint Paul. 

I offer six themes to consider:

I. Paul’s Conversion Experience on the Road to Damascus and our Personal Conversion in the Year of Saint Paul

I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Get up and go into the city, where you will be told what to do. (Acts of the Apostles 9:5-6)

 Paul was complicit in the murder of Saint Stephen, the first martyr, whose feast day we celebrate on December 26. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that those who were stoning Stephen to death “laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.” (Acts 7:58).

Stephen’s glowing, peaceful face and his forgiveness of his persecutors as he died must have made an indelible impression on Saul, and prepared him for the experience of the Risen Lord that he had on the road to Damascus, when all of Saul’s energetic personality previously focused on the persecution of Christianity suddenly became focused on the spread of Christianity. In a blinding flash of light, the Risen Lord penetrated the inmost being of Saul – henceforth to be known as Paul – and shattered his resistance, causing a complete change of mind and heart, a metanoia1, that led him to be a “servant” and “apostle” of Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1)

We can never underestimate the power of a Catholic life lived with integrity and radiant vitality.  How many potential “Saint Pauls” might we influence by radiating the power of Christ from deep within as Saint Stephen did? Paul’s reversal was so striking and complete as to be almost unbelievable to his contemporaries. When the Lord spoke in a vision to Ananias to seek out Paul and lay hands on him to restore his sight, Ananias replied "Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem." (Acts 9:13)  It’s as though Ananias was politely asking the Lord if he really knew who this man was! 

 The great English churchman, theologian and writer, John Cardinal Newman, meditated on how Paul’s conversion prepared him for his missionary role: “…his awful rashness and blindness, his self-confident, headstrong, cruel rage against the worshippers of the true Messiah, then his strange conversion, then the length of time that elapsed before his solemn ordination, during which he was left to meditate in private on all that had happened, and to anticipate the future – all this constituted a peculiar preparation for the office of preaching to a lost world, dead in sin.  It gave him an extended insight, on the one hand, into the ways and designs of Providence, and, on the other hand, into the workings of sin in the human heart, and the various modes of thinking in which the mind is actually trained.”2

 So much of the story of the early Church can be traced back to the contemplative and enthusiastic heart of Saint Paul ignited by his intimacy with the Risen Lord.  Saint Paul understood how sin works in human nature and how the Holy Spirit can completely transform habits of corruption.  Saint Paul also understood how to influence non-Christian and anti-Christian mindsets with charity so as to be able to be an instrument of another mind’s enlightenment.

 The best way that we can celebrate the Year of Saint Paul is to go to the Risen Lord and ask Him about what deep and intimate conversion of life He is calling us to. 

 We know from Paul’s life that at the heart of conversion is a surrender to the love of the Risen Lord. Any interior movement leading from pride to humility, anger to mildness, greed to detachment, lust to a chaste spirit, envy to joy in the talents of others, sloth to zeal, gluttony (including internet, television, cell phone and blackberry gluttony!) to temperance is a surrender to the power of Christ’s love within. This love allows us to let go of the fear of surrendering completely to Christ3 so that we can see others with the eyes of Christ4.

II. Living and Praying Christ in the Year of Saint Paul

It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)

 Many great saints have built their lives on Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” It can be so easy for us to hear these inspired words over and over again during the course of our lives and never really understand their revolutionary character.

 Christ lives within us. He wants to express himself through our facial expressions, our tone of voice, even our body language.  Paul was aware of his personal weaknesses, his intellectual and personality shortcomings, his unnamed struggle with “a thorn in his flesh.”(2 Corinthians 12:7)  But his humble awareness of these weaknesses only made him more reliant on Christ: “I can do all things in He who strengthens me.”(Philippians 4:13) His understanding of his personal weakness drove him to open up to the presence and power of Christ within him.

 When we are aware of Christ’s presence in this way, we enkindle it in many ways:  through prayer, meditation, Mass and the sacraments, the sanctification of our daily work5, through joyful and sacrificial family life. Then the light of Christ that naturally emanates from us can be an illumination for a wide range of people, be they fellow believers and people of good will on the road to belief or be they atheists and agnostics. All whom we encounter will sense something different in us and be led to ask themselves questions that could alter their lives and destinies.

 We have seen this not only in the lives of saints like Stephen and Paul, but in many others.  Think of Saint Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers, and his example of virtuous governance and family life6.  Think of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac serving the poor on the streets of Paris. Think of Blessed Damien serving his lepers in Molokai.  Think of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta serving the destitute and disfigured in city streets around the world even as she courageously navigated through dry times in her interior life.  Think of Pope John Paul II’s radiant and joyful face on his papal journeys. Think of millions of Catholic lay people who through the centuries have lived the sacrament of marriage heroically and radiated Christ to the generations that came before and after them. All of these lives are eloquent, tangible commentary on Paul’s testimony that, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”

 The Year of Saint Paul is a time for us to stand on the shoulders of Catholic saints through the centuries and to live Paul’s life-changing words in ways that address the world’s need for holiness in the 21st Century.

III. Praying, Studying and Living the Inspired Word of God in the Pauline Year

The Word of God cannot be chained. (2 Timothy 2:9)

 In a September 16, 2005 address to participants in the International Congress organized to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Dei Verbum7 (The Word of God), the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

  • “I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio divina (divine or sacred reading): the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that interior dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church – I am convinced of it – a new spiritual springtime. As a strong point of biblical ministry, Lectio divina should therefore be increasingly encouraged, also through the use of new methods carefully thought through and in step with the times.  It should never be forgotten that the Word of God is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (cf Ps 119[118]: 105).”
  • I echo Pope Benedict’s advice for Catholics to engage daily in Lectio divina of the Sacred Scriptures as a means for deepening our communion with God and attaining spiritual insight.  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Colossians 3:16) This daily meditative prayer on the Sacred Scriptures engages thought, imagination, emotion and desire.  This mobilization of our faculties deepens our convictions of faith, prompts the conversion of our hearts and strengthens our wills to follow Christ.8
  •  A deep focus on the Word of God reveals to us the fundamental Catholic truth of the road to Emmaus story in the Gospel of Luke9.  To be authentically biblical is at the same time to be authentically sacramental and Eucharistic. Any investment in understanding and praying the Scriptures more deeply is at the same time an investment in a fuller, more active and conscious participation in our Catholic Mass and sacramental liturgies.

    Saint Jerome described the union of the Word and the Eucharist: “The Lord’s flesh is real food and his blood real drink; this is our true good in this present life: to nourish ourselves with his flesh and to drink his blood in not only the Eucharist but also the reading of Sacred Scripture.  In fact, the Word of God, drawn from the knowledge of the Scriptures, is real food and real drink.10

    In addition to prayerful Lectio Divina, the Year of Saint Paul affords us the opportunity to rediscover the Roman Catholic Church’s contemporary biblical scholarship. The Church’s scientific approach to the Sacred Scriptures, characterized by a balanced use of the historical critical method, canonical exegesis11 and many other sophisticated tools for the interpretation of the sacred texts, is well documented in the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church issued in 1993 and available on the Vatican website. 

    Of course, Dei Verbum continues to be an excellent resource to understand the Church’s approach to Sacred Scripture:

    • “Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort. But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.  This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.” (Dei Verbum 10)
  • The popularity of recent books and films, which purport to expose Church history or to challenge our beliefs, serve as a catechetical wake up call to promote biblical literacy and daily biblical engagement as well as a fuller understanding of Catholic teaching on Revelation according to the Catholic principle of the union and harmony of faith and reason12.
  • IV. Lifting High the Cross of Christ in the Year of Saint Paul

    I was determined that while I was with you I would speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians: 2:2)

     The Cross of Jesus Christ is at the center of all that Paul does. He teaches us how to deal with the hardships and grief of life. Paul experienced it all: rejection, calumny, indifference, shipwrecks, imprisonment and, ultimately, martyrdom as symbolized in art by Paul holding a sword.13

    The Cross influences everything about Paul.  He states: “I preach Christ and Him Crucified.” The Cross transformed his teaching and allowed him to evangelize others by helping them to interpret the meanings of their own sufferings.  He also uses a curious phrase: “I boast in the Cross of Christ.” (Galatians 6:14)  He puts the Cross of Christ above any temptation to egoism or pride.  The Cross is the true source of his apostolic effectiveness.

     Paul’s letters reveal an intense driving personality. The tone of his letters also reveals temperamental struggles.  Easily hurt, he was prone to brooding especially when the early Christian communities did not live up to the Gospel. Paradoxically, his interior struggles offer us encouragement and strength to continue fighting with regard to our own character and temperament struggles. 

    With Paul, we too fight the good fight, endeavoring to allow the Beatitudes, the theological and cardinal virtues, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and ultimately Father, Son and Holy Spirit to reign in us.  Dying to self and rising in Christ, we embrace the Cross and remember: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)

     Pope Saint Clement I, in his own letter To the Corinthians, 514, described how Paul made progress in these struggles: “It was through jealousy and conflict that Paul showed the way to the prize for perseverance.  He was put in chains seven times, sent into exile, and stoned; a herald both in the east and the west, he achieved a noble fame by his faith. He taught justice to all the world and, when he had reached the limits of the western world, he gave his witness before those in authority; then he left this world and was taken up into the holy place, a superb example of endurance.”

    Pope Benedict XVI’s recent encyclical on the theological virtue of hope entitled Spe Salvi has many references to Paul’s living the virtue of hope while he was in prison15 and shows the inspiration his texts provided to subsequent saints such as Saint Augustine16 and a Vietnamese martyr Paul Le-Bao-Tinh (+1857)17 and the African religious Saint Josephine Bakhita.18

     In the Year of Saint Paul, each of us is called to lift high the Cross of Christ and to carry it with Paul’s courage, determination and trust in God’s providential design.19

    V. Rekindling a Love for the Eucharist and the Church in the Year of Saint Paul

    Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?  And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:16)

     One of the classic Pauline images is that of the Body of Christ as a communion of individuals with specific charisms and talents which build up of the Body.  Paul shows that the Eucharist is the source of unity, harmony and communion in the Body.  Our reverent reception of the Eucharist is the great spark of missionary activity that leads us, like Saint Paul, to the ends of the earth.

     In his 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II wove Paul’s teaching throughout his meditation on the Eucharist:

    • “The words of the Apostle Paul bring us back to the dramatic setting in which the Eucharist was born…The Apostle Paul, for his part, says that it is ‘unworthy’ of a Christian community to partake of the Lord’s Supper amid division and indifference to the poor (cf. 1 Cor 11:17-22, 27-34). Proclaiming the death of the Lord ‘until he comes’ (1 Cor 11:26) entails that all who take part in the Eucharist be committed to changing their lives and making them in a certain way completely ‘Eucharistic.’ [#20]”
  • Studying and praying Pauline texts on the Eucharist help us to “rekindle our Eucharistic amazement”20 and to realize that every Mass has a “cosmic significance.”21 Every Mass is “celebrated on the Altar of the World.”22 When we rekindle our Eucharistic faith, awe and amazement at the truth of the Real Presence, our marriages and our families are rekindled in Christ.  Vocations to the priesthood and religious life are rekindled.  A missionary spirit, evangelization and effective catechesis at every level are rekindled. And as mentioned earlier, a devotion to the inspired Word of God is rekindled resulting in a new “spiritual springtime.” We rekindle a concrete living of our Catholic respect for life and social justice in regard to the poor, the imprisoned, the stranger and the unborn.
  • In his 2007 apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI captures the power of the Eucharist: “More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos (Word), we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving.’ Jesus ‘draws us into himself.’ The substantial conversion of bread and wine into his body and blood introduces within creation the principle of a radical change, a sort of ‘nuclear fission,’ to use an image familiar to us today, which penetrates to the heart of all being, a change meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:28).”23 With Saint Paul’s intercession, we too can be apostles of the Real Presence of the Eucharist in the world.

    VI. The Universal Call to Holiness and the Universal Call to Mission in the

    Year of Saint Paul

    Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! (1 Corinthians 9:16)

     Oscar Andres Cardenal Rodriguez Maradiaga, SDB, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa in Honduras, wrote me a Christmas card which included these words:

    “Que el ano de San Pablo, evangelizador infatigable sea la occasion para renovar nuestro Corazon misionero. ‘Ay de mi si no evangelizo’ (1 Cor 9,16)” [“May the Year of Saint Paul, the untiring evangelizer, be a time for renewing our missionary heart. ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel’ (1 Cor 9,16)”]

     I am convinced that one of the goals of Pope Benedict XVI in proclaiming the Year of Saint Paul is to have every Catholic hold up a mirror to his or her life and to ask: am I as determined and as energetic about spreading the Catholic faith as Saint Paul was?  Is spreading the faith both by example and by our conversations with our friends even a concern?24

    What are we doing, in particular, to instill a love of Jesus and an understanding of our faith in the hearts and minds of our youth who are the future of the Church?  In his boundless energy and athletic metaphors, Saint Paul’s example should be especially appealing to young people, encouraging them to apply their energy and enthusiasm to spreading the Gospel of Christ. 

     Pope John Paul II always reminded us that our Catholic faith only grows when we consciously and conscientiously share it with others.  Christ will look at each one of us with his merciful eyes at our individual judgment and ask what efforts we made during the course of our lifetime to invite people into communion with Jesus Christ and His Church.  Is it any surprise to us that Pope John Paul began his 1990 encyclical on missionary activity Redemptoris Missio with a tribute to Saint Paul? He wrote:

    • “The mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church is still very far from completion.  As the second Millennium after Christ’s coming draws to an end, an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service.  It is the Spirit who impels us to proclaim the great works of God: ‘For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting.  For necessity is laid upon me.  Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!’ (1 Cor 9:16) In the name of the whole Church, I sense an urgent duty to repeat this cry of Saint Paul.” 
  • May each of us living now in the 21st century sense that same duty to repeat the cry of Saint Paul.  Pope John Paul II showed us that mysticism and missionary spirit go hand in hand and that the universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission.25
  •  Pope Paul VI captured the heart of Saint Paul in a passage from his 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi:

    • “That model evangelizer, the Apostle Paul, wrote these words to the Thessalonians, and they are a program for us all: ‘With such yearning love we chose to impart to you not only the gospel of God but our very selves, so dear had you become to us.’ What is this love? It is much more than that of a teacher; it is the love of a father; and again, it is the love of a mother. It is this love that the Lord expects from every preacher of the Gospel, from every builder of the Church.  A sign of love will be the concern to give the truth and to bring people into unity.  Another sign of love will be a devotion to the proclamation of Jesus Christ, without reservation or turning back.”26
  • What better example of that than Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, our own American Saint Paul, whose cause for canonization is currently in process. Living in the dawn of the television age, he recognized early the potential of harnessing modern means of technology to spread the Gospel.  Imagine how Saint Paul would have used satellite communications, the Internet and YouTube.  On the Roman campus of Propaganda Fide,  a seminary that forms future priests for the Third World, there is a retreat center whose main room has a beautiful bust of Bishop Sheen at its heart.  I can think of no better image that describes the Pauline missionary fire in the heart of this great 20th century American, a fire that spread to the ends of the earth influencing the formation of so many African, Asian and Indian priests and religious.
  •  May the fire that the Holy Spirit cast down into the heart of Saint Paul, which in turn lit up the earth, inflame our hearts to be vibrant and effective missionaries in the Year of Saint Paul and throughout our lives.

    TEN WAYS TO CELEBRATE THE YEAR OF SAINT PAUL

    1. Pray to the Holy Spirit about your unique and intimate “Road to Damascus” conversion experience that the Spirit is calling you to in the Year of Saint Paul.
    2. Live Galatians 2:20 “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” and study the lives of saints from Saint Paul to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta who lived these words so inspirationally.
    3. Read and pray The Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Saint Paul in the New Testament. Consult, too, the many helpful biblical commentaries and general studies of Paul that are presently available and will become available during the Year of Saint Paul. 
    4. Take Pope Benedict XVI’s challenge and engage daily in Lectio divina so that the Church will have a “new springtime” of spiritual growth and evangelization. Discover in a personal way that “the Word of God cannot be chained!” For an introduction to Lectio divina, see www.valyermo.com/ld-art.html.
    5. Study the Church’s Teaching on Revelation and biblical interpretation in such Church documents and resources as:
      1. The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum
      2. The Pontifical Biblical Commission’s The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (1993)
      3. Relevant sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [Part One: sections 26-184, pp. 13-50] and the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [Questions 1-32, pp. 5-12]
      4. Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth
    6. Study and Pray through Paul’s teaching on the power of the Cross of Christ. “Preach Christ crucified” in the way you carry the Cross and the way you help others carry their crosses.
    7. Develop even more deeply a Pauline reverence for the Eucharist and the Body of Christ.  Read and pray:
      • Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Dies Domini 1998
      • Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia 2003
      • Pope Benedict XVI’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis
    8. Participate in Parish and Diocesan Masses during the Year of Saint Paul for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (Sunday, June 29, 2008 and Monday, June 29, 2009), the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle (Sunday, January 25, 2009), and the Feast of Saint Stephen, First Martyr (Friday, December 26, 2008).  Make a pilgrimage during the Year of Saint Paul to Saint Paul’s parish in Wilmington, Saint Paul’s Parish in Delaware City and Saint Peter and Paul’s Parish in Easton, MD. If you should be fortunate enough to visit Rome this year, make sure to visit and venerate the tomb of Saint Paul at the Basilica of Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls. Vatican officials announced in December 2006 that several feet below the Basilica’s main altar and behind a smaller altar, they had found a roughly cut marble sarcophagus beneath an inscription that reads “Paul Apostle Martyr.” The small altar was removed and a window inserted so that pilgrims can see the sarcophagus. Also visit the new ecumenical chapel which will be located in the southeast corner of the Basilica (what had been since the 1930s a baptismal chapel). While praying there, ask the intercession of Saint Paul for ecumenical progress and full Christian unity.27
    9. Seek Paul’s intercession to be a more vibrant missionary in the world. Respond to the Universal Call to Holiness and the Universal Call to Mission. Study classical Church texts on missionary spirit and evangelization that discuss the life and ministry of Saint Paul such as Vatican Council II’s 1965 Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes Divinitus, Pope Paul VI’s 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangeli Nuntiandi, Pope John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio and Pope John Paul II’s 1999 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America.
    10. Study and pray the classical paintings of Saint Paul such as Rembrandt’s Saint Paul at his Writing-Desk (1629-1630), Caravaggio’s The Conversion of Saint Paul (1600), El Greco’s Saint Paul (1606), Michelangelo’s The Conversion of Saul (1542-1545), Raphael’s Saint Paul Preaching in Athens.  For an internet tour of these paintings and other art works that focus on Saint Paul, see the website: www.jesuswalk.com/philippians/artwork-st-paul.htm.  And see the 1981 film Chariots of Fire (and other films with Pauline themes) which examines how Eric Liddell, a Scottish 1924 Olympic runner, lives and speaks about the Pauline “running the race” of faith and “feeling God’s pleasure” when he runs.  This film is a moving commentary on Galatians 2:20.28

    We can explore many other Pauline themes during the Year of Saint Paul and many other creative ideas beyond the ten above will help us to live the Year of Saint Paul well. I am counting on you to study the themes and to discover in prayer the ideas. I am counting on you to develop, spread, and live them.

    The great French Catholic historian Henri Daniel-Rops summarized Paul’s charism in this way:

    • “How close he seems to us, this man whom the Divine Light struck down on the road to Damascus – defeated, yet through his very defeat, overwhelmed by a profound anticipation of Grace – for, after all, we ourselves are still treading that same Damascus road today! He is, after Jesus, the most vivid and complete of all the New Testament figures, the man whose face we can visualize most clearly… And whenever we listen to the least important of his sayings, we recognize that tone of unforgettable confidence attainable only by those who have risked their all.” 29

    May you and I risk our all for the Gospel during the Year of Saint Paul.  And may I express my love for you as your Shepherd in the words of Saint Paul himself: “Do I need letters of recommendation to you or from you as others might? You are my letter, known and read by all men, written on your hearts.  Clearly you are a letter of Christ which I have delivered, a letter written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh in the heart.” (2 Corinthians 3:1-3)
    Saint Paul, Apostle, Martyr, Mystic and Missionary, pray for us!


    1. Cf. Roch A. Kereszty Jesus Christ: Fundamentals of Christology (Staten Island, NY: Communio Books), 40.
    2. John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, Sermon 9, Saint Paul’s Conversion Viewed in Reference to his Office, The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997), 290-291.
    3. Cf. Pope Benedict XVI’s Homily for the Mass for the Inauguration of the Pontificate, April 24, 2005.
    4. Cf. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est 18.
    5. See Bishop Michael Saltarelli’s August 30, 2001 Pastoral Letter Holiness in the World of Work published in The Dialog and available on the Diocese of Wilmington website www.cdow.org. The Pastoral Letter was also published nationally in Origins under the same title on August 30, 2001 (Vol. 31: No. 12), 217-220.
    6. See Bishop Michael Saltarelli’s September 30, 2004 Litany of Saint Thomas More, Martyr and Patron Saint of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers and the accompanying statement On the Litany of Saint Thomas More, Martyr and Patron Saint of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers published in The Dialog and available on the Diocese of Wilmington website www.cdow.org.  It has become a custom in the Diocese of Wilmington to pray this litany during October Respect Life month and at the conclusion of the Red Mass that the Saint Thomas More Society celebrates with the Bishop each October.
    7. The full English text of Dei Verbum and the other Church documents referred to in this letter can be accessed using the search feature on the Vatican website at www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm.
    8. Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church (second edition) 2708.
    9. See the Pope John Paul II’s October 7, 2004 Apostolic Letter entitled Mane Nobiscum Domine for the Year of the Eucharist (October 2004-October 2005)
    10. S. Hieronymous, Commentarius in Ecclesiasten, 313: CCL 72, 278 as quoted in the Lineamenta for the Universal Church Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church scheduled in Rome for October 5-26, 2008.
    11. See Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Doubleday, 2007), xviii: “The aim of this (canonical) exegesis is to read individual texts within the totality of the one Scripture, which then sheds new light on all the individual texts.  Paragraph 12 of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on Divine Revelation had already clearly underscored this as a fundamental principle of theological exegesis: If you want to understand the Scripture in the spirit in which it is written, you have to attend to the content and to the unity of Scripture as a whole.”
    12. See Bishop Michael Saltarelli’s September 15, 2005 Pastoral Letter Go and Teach: Facing the Challenges of Catechesis Today published in The Dialog and available on the Diocese of Wilmington website www.cdow.org. The Pastoral Letter was also published nationally in Origins under the title A Vision for Catechesis on October 27, 2005 (Vol. 35: Number 20), 329-334.
    13. See 2 Corinthians 11:23-29.
    14. See the Liturgy of the Hours Office of Readings for the June 30th Feast of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.
    15. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi 4.
    16. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi 33.
    17. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi 37.
    18. Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi 3.
    19. For a reflection on the Cross of  Christ in our experience of September 11, 2001, see Bishop Michael Saltarelli’s September 5, 2002 Pastoral Statement The Spiritual Lessons of September 11 published in The Dialog and available on the Diocese of Wilmington website www.cdow.org.
    20. Pope John Paul II’s 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia 6.
    21. Pope John Paul II’s 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia 8.
    22. Pope John Paul II’s 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia 8.
    23. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis 11.
    24. See Bishop Michael Saltarelli’s January 13, 2000 Pastoral Letter How to Reach Out to Inactive Catholics in the United States Today published in The Dialog and available on the Diocese of Wilmington website www.cdow.org.  The Pastoral Letter was also published nationally in Origins under the title How to Reach Inactive Catholics on January 27, 2000 (Vol. 29: Number 32), 514-518.
    25. Cf. Pope John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio 90.
    26. Pope Paul VI’s 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi 79.
    27. Cf. Catholic News Service Report by Cindy Wooden, December 19, 2007.
    28. See Bishop Saltarelli’s April 1, 2004 Pastoral Letter Contemplating the Face of Christ in Film published in The Dialog and available on the Diocese of Wilmington website www.cdow.org. The Pastoral Letter was also published nationally in Origins under the same title on April 15, 2004 (Vol. 33: Number 44), 764-767.
    29. Henri Daniel-Rops The Church of Apostles and Martyrs (Volume 1) (New York: Image Books, 1962), 72.

     

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