1. Why do we celebrate the Year of St. Paul?
Periodically, the Church sets aside an entire year to encourage all of us to focus on some particular and important aspect of our faith. This year, we are given an opportunity to honour one of the great saints and founders of the early Church – the Apostle Paul. In order to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of his birth, Christians all over the world will celebrate "The Year of St. Paul" from Jun 28, 2008 to Jun 29, 2009.
Pope Benedict XVI said that this special "Pauline year" is an invitation to join with "the Apostle of the Gentiles, who dedicated himself to the spreading of the Good News to all peoples, [and] spent himself for the unity and harmony of all Christians".
"May he guide us and protect us in this bi-millenary celebration, helping us to advance in the humble and sincere search for the full unity of all the members of the mystical body of Christ," the pope added.
"From [St. Paul] we draw a very important lesson: What counts is to place Jesus Christ at the centre of our lives, so that our identity is marked essentially by the encounter, by communion with Christ and with his word," Pope Benedict XVI said.
2. Who is St. Paul?
• Paul was born about AD 8, in what is now Turkey.
• Paul was a Pharisee.
• Saul was his Jewish name; Paul was his Roman name.
• Paul was a tentmaker by profession.
• The letters, or epistles, of St. Paul make up one-third of the New Testament.
• Fourteen letters are attributed to Paul: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
• Paul was beheaded outside the walls of Rome during the reign of Nero, probably between AD 65 and 67.
• Tradition has always maintained that Paul was buried where the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls now stands. Current archaeological evidence confirms this tradition; the chapel of relics in the basilica contains a set of chains said to be those which bound Paul in the last days before his execution.
3. Is St. Paul relevant today?
From his letters, we know that Paul was far from being a good speaker; on the contrary he shared with Moses and Jeremiah a lack of oratory skill.
"His bodily presence is weak. and his speech of no account" (2 Corinthians 10:10), his adversaries said of him, Pope Benedict XVI commented.
How could God choose such a man to be an Apostle who, prior to his conversion, even persecuted Christians? And how did this man succeed in proclaiming the Gospel with such power that it earned him the title "Founder of the Christian Church"?
We know the answer to this from St. Paul’s own words: "It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).
Pope Benedict continues, "The extraordinary apostolic results that [Paul] was able to achieve cannot, therefore, be attributed to brilliant rhetoric or refined apologetic and missionary strategies."
The success of his apostolate depended above all on his personal involvement in proclaiming the Gospel with total dedication to Christ; a dedication that feared neither risk [nor] difficulty nor persecution. In light of this, what challenges – many of which may seem insurmountable – do we face in our own lives? Are we focused on living our lives or living our faith, as St. Paul did? Are we allowing Christ to live – to breathe, speak, walk and reach out – in our daily lives beyond Sunday Mass?
May we spend this jubilee year of St. Paul rising to the challenge of the great Apostle’s exemplary perspective and actions.
4. How are we to celebrate the Year of St. Paul?
Read St. Paul’s writings:
• Select a book about St. Paul for spiritual reading.
• Invite others to celebrate the life of Paul through group Bible study (see "More Resources").
• Make a mini-pilgrimage: Travel to churches and other places of pilgrimage dedicated to St. Paul. (In Singapore, visit Church of Sts. Peter & Paul.)
• Pray for each of the countries to which Paul travelled. How are the Christians in that part
of the world living out their faith?
• Pray for the unity of all Christian churches.
• Obtain the plenary indulgence
offered for this Year of St. Paul. (See www.annopaolina.org for details.)
• Spread the Gospel.
• Volunteer to be a catechist or serve in some other capacity in your parish.
• Participate in local ecumenical gatheringss.
• Donate to a missionary order and pray for their ministries.The meaning of the Year of St. Paul logo
The chain represents the imprisonment of Paul in Rome.
The sword is symbolic of his martyrdom. As a Roman citizen, Paul could not be crucified nor stoned, the two most common means of execution, but rather was accorded the "honour" of beheading by sword.
The book represents his epistles.
The cross is emblematic of Christ, of whom Paul said, "We preach Christ crucified"
(1 Corinthians 1:23).
The tongue of flame refers to the Holy Spirit.
2008-2009 are the dates of the Pauline year.
29 VI represents Jun 29, the ending day of the Pauline celebration and the Feast of Sts. Peter and St. Paul. n