A few days ago, a stained glass artist named Rachel Curling emailed me and gave permission to use this piece of stained glass beauty in order to help celebrate today's Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.
|Stained glass image courtesy of www.StainedGlassInc.com|
This piece was created in honor of the event and the feast day. It captures that moment when Paul is confronted with Christ's voice and answers his call to conversion with the words, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do!" He humbly surrenders, as the image denotes. You can see his "Yes!" in his very body. He is completely open to the will of the Christ. That same Christ he had not recognized as his Messiah. The same Christ he was persecuting by attacking His body, the Church. This is a profound moment for Paul, for the Church as well, but let us not forget that Paul's conversion is an important window into our own continual call to conversion and deeper union with Our Lord, too. We need to take it personally!
Like Mary, like you or I, like anyone who has answered that call to conversion, Paul could have refused. Like Paul as Saul, we do Him harm. We may not hold any coats while Christians are killed, but every sin has a painful effect upon our world, ourselves, and our God. Each sin needs repentance, each sinner conversion, with each and every sin.
It is too easy to contemplate a life like his from this end of History. We take such faith as a matter of course. Of course he goes blind and on his way. Of course Paul is Baptized in Damascus by the very people he had planned on persecuting. Of course he writes, speaks, and converts Christians in his time and to this very day. He's Paul. Everybody knows him!
What we tend to forget is that he had no guarantees that those wary Christians would ever trust him. He was Saul, the man who took part in the very first Christian martyrdom. This man helped kill Saint Stephen! Saul's reputation proceeded him whenever he went among Christians. A yes to Christ meant he would be outlawed by his current friends and by all the authorities in power, Jewish and Roman. A yes meant he would have to trust the Christians and be humbled by his past actions. Christ didn't make any guarantees and Paul said yes. As far as he knew, Christ might have had in mind for him a glorious martyrdom in Damascus at the hands of just about anyone.
Yet Paul never hesitates. He gives his fiat as soon as he understands Who is behind the voice. What trust, what surrender that is! Blinded, he journeys to his fate as a new convert to a persecuted faith.
As you look upon this artwork, would it not be a dazzling wonder to ask God for a turning away from your misguided roads, just like His servant Paul. Even the smallest mite of such a moment, even in a more ordinary life, would be miraculous.
Who doesn't know the story of Saint Paul's conversion? It's worth a look, again and again, year after year. Here is one of the readings for today that you could hear if you were blessed enough to attend a Mass.
Acts 22: 3-16
"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.
For from them I even received letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment those there as well.
"On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'
I replied, 'Who are you, sir?'
And he said to me,
'I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.'
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, 'What shall I do, sir?'
The Lord answered me, 'Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told about everything
appointed for you to do.'
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.
"A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
'Saul, my brother, regain your sight.'
And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
'The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.'"
I am going to interview the stained glass artist Rachel Curling on the Podcast next month, so stayed tuned for details!
2013 March for Life is Underway
|Image Source: A Slice of Smith Life blog|
Out in the cold and damp and marching for Life!
Tracy Smith, blogger at A Slice of Smith Life, was gracious enough to share the above photo from last year's cold and damp March for Life (2013's is cold and snowy). She is a veteran of several Marches and has archived her photos and videos of the last few years. Go take a look and see how exciting the March for Life can be. I've only managed to attend our local events, which are smaller but wonderfully exciting. Just imagine the DC March with a hundred thousand marchers with you! Visit Tracy's blog to catch a glimpse of the awesomeness that is the March for Life!
The Pope Tweeted the Marchers!
Source: Catholic News Agency
“I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life,” he tweeted Jan. 25.
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Today is my Fast Once a Week for Life day. I am so happy to have my fasting day coincide with the March for Life today. My heart and my small sacrifices and prayers go out to all the women who have had an abortion.
Peace to you, sisters.