Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Conversion of St. Paul and Monastic Conversion

On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, one of our Benedictine brothers from St. Vincent Archabbey came out and gave us a wonderful conference on the Conversion of St. Paul and Monastic Conversion.  We thought you might enjoy part of his talk to us...
Saul was trying to destroy this new Way; soon he poured himself out to proclaim Christ, the Way, Truth and Life.  Certainly he was not a convert in the sense that he ceased being a Jew to become a Christian.  Rather, Saint Paul always saw himself as a Jew.  After his encounter with the Risen Christ, he saw himself as a truly faith filled and obedient Jew.  Saint Paul knew in his heart of hearts that the Lord is faithful and kind toward his people.  He also knew that the People of God are a people of purpose, God's purpose.  From the beginning the Lord called a people to himself so that all peoples could hear the Good News and come to praise and glorify his Name.  The Lord did not destroy his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in order to establish a new covenant with the Church.  The Lord fulfills his covenant with our ancestors in the faith by offering us a new covenant in the Blood of the Lamb.  This is the truth that Saint Paul suffered to preach to the ends of the earth.  In the first reading we hear of a disciple named Ananias who approached Saint Paul while he was still blind and gave him new sight.  Then, he began to proclaim Jesus the Lord of every person and all the nations.  As Saint Paul had been commanded, so too, all the apostles were commanded in today's gospel to preach the Gospel and baptize all the nations.  This, too, is our heritage and our mission.  We cannot sit back on our laurels and ignore the fact that most people have not heard the good news.  What will it take to awaken us?  Do we have to fall on the ground or see a blinding light?
...Grace is also defined as God's self donation.  He more than acts upon our personality; He unites himself to us by giving us his own nature.  Christ is divine by nature; we are divine by gift, by grace, by favor.  Living in faith we live in obedience and live a life for others.
...we need a life of devotion or piety which means good worship or honor.  This is the proper kind of life that honors God, that works with God's will to accomplish what God created us for...  If we remember that the nature of God is creation and love, we know that our true happiness and fulfillment come from this way of being like God, not in some other way that is not doing God's will.

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