Sunday 15th September 2019

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Portrait Of St. Paul

January 27, 2016 Frontpage No Comments

By PHILIP TROWER

I

To paint a completely faithful word portrait of St. Paul would require the gifts of a literary Titian or Rembrandt. I can therefore only give you a pencil sketch. But I have called it a portrait so as to match the “Portrait of St. Peter” which The Wanderer published some months ago. Because history and divine Providence have linked the two princes of the apostles so closely, I can’t help feeling that any representations of them ought to be in the form of a diptych.
I first began to appreciate the greatness and gifts of St. Paul and the unique nature of his vocation in a way I never had before about two years ago when I started putting together an anthology to be called Christian Belief and Life in the Epistles of St. Paul.
The more you study his life and letters the more you are tempted to feel that without him the other apostles would have taken much longer to get the Church off the ground, which is presumably why God called him into his service. It is a bit like a university graduate being sent to the rescue of middle-schoolers. St. John would seem to have been the only exception. He would seem to have been on the same level spiritually and intellectually. But he doesn’t appear to have had St. Paul’s drive or organizing abilities.
If, for instance, God had left the original twelve on their own, how long would it have taken them before they could make the necessary break with Judaism, circumcision, and the ritual law and carry the Gospel to the Gentiles? This, surely, is why, to use St. Paul’s own words, God sent them “one born out of due time.”
St. Paul was also much better equipped educationally to deal with all the quasi-philosophical and quasi-religious ideas like Gnosticism sloshing about in the Mediterranean world of the time which could be rivals to the Gospel or start trying to compete with it.
Marvelous too is the way God’s Providence brings St. Paul and St. Peter together in Rome at the end of their lives and lets them be martyred there at the same time. Had they died in different places, it would have been much easier for later troublemakers to set up St. Paul as a rival head of the Church.
Another thing which struck me while making my selection of texts is how much our saint insists on the fact that he did not receive his knowledge of the faith or what he was to teach from the other apostles but through direct personal revelations to him from our Lord Himself. This even applies to the Last Supper. When our Lord appeared or spoke to him on the road to Damascus and he fell off his horse, this was only the first of many much longer and more detailed revelations. Many passages in both his letters and Acts either state or imply this.
No doubt the apostles filled him in on the details of our Lord’s time on Earth as they had experienced it with Him, but it is possible that our Lord showed St. Paul all this too. What there can be no doubt about, however, is that how he was to understand what he heard — either directly from our Lord or from others — came from our Lord personally. He insists on this.
Here, in his own words, is what he tells the Galatians. “I want you to know, brethren, that the Gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12).
And later in the same letter he writes: “When God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus” (Gal. 1:15-17).
In the light of these texts one is tempted to describe the epistles, coupled with relevant passages from the Acts as The Gospel According to St. Paul and St. Paul himself as a fifth evangelist.
This being the case, how do most of us respond to our fifth evangelist and thirteenth apostle? When writing about St. Peter, I said the adjective which best described my feelings or first sprang to mind when thinking about him was “endearing.” This, I think most people would agree, hardly seems to fit St. Paul. It sounds too cosy. Great, heroic, intrepid, formidable? Unquestionably. And what about lovable?
Here I think not a few people would hesitate. They are intimidated by the many passages in the epistles where our saint has to haul his neophytes over the coals, or take issue with unauthorized or self-appointed rivals. They picture themselves as having been at the butt end of his rebukes as well. Or they find the many doctrinal mazes he is exploring, defining, or expounding for the first time too mentally taxing.
But there is so much more to the epistles than that. I would say that the better you come to know St. Paul, the more you will want to apply the adjective lovable to him, which is hardly surprising when we remember that he is the author of the great paean in praise of love in 1 Corinthians. The epistles also reveal how deeply he was loved by his converts as well as how passionately he cared about them. There is often an almost motherly tenderness about the way he speaks of them and to them.

II

Let us now turn to his life. After our Lord appeared to him on the way to Damascus, his life falls into roughly three parts: what we can call a preparatory period (AD 36-45); the 13 years of his three missionary journeys (45-58), and a final “Roman period” (58-67) after his arrest and appeal to Caesar.
The preparatory period is a period of working out his relationship with God, and establishing his position within the still only recently founded Christian community which up to then he has been persecuting. It begins in Damascus and ends when he sets out from Antioch on his first missionary journey.
Damascus is his first headquarters. From here, to use a modern expression, he “goes on retreat” for a period of unknown length in what he calls “Arabia,” which would certainly not have been Saudi Arabia and was probably a desert area somewhere in western Iraq. Then after a further period in Damascus he visits St. Peter in Jerusalem. From there, on the advice of the local Christians and to avoid being arrested by the Jews, he withdraws to Tarsus, his birthplace.
He spends four years in Tarsus (AD 39-43) about which Scripture tells us nothing. However, we can be sure of one thing: that he spent the greater part of his time preaching the Gospel to his fellow citizens. Then at the end of four years Barnabus comes to find him and take him to join the newly established Christian community in Antioch.
The 13 years of the three missionary journeys start shortly afterward and it is then that his tremendous natural powers begin to display themselves in a fashion now transformed by grace. His incredible toughness and determination are no longer at the service of national prejudice or religious animosity. They are driven by a passionate all-consuming love of our Lord and an equally passionate determination to tell as many people as possible about Him while at the same time bringing them to His Master in tribute.
A famous passage in 2 Corinthians tells us about the cost.
“Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, in danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the Churches” (2 Cor. 11:24-29).
To this we can add the fact that when not traveling, preaching, teaching, and organizing his new communities, or trying to pacify or stimulate them, he spent a large part of each day earning his living by his tent-making, so that no one could accuse him of spreading his new religion to make money. If you met him, one of the first things you would have noticed about him would have been how rough his hands were.
Then there were all the nights when, by what we should find a less than adequate oil lamp, he would be writing his epistles or dictating them to a copyist.

III

About his final years, after his arrest in Jerusalem, appeal to Caesar, and arrival in Rome, we would know next to nothing if we depended on Acts alone, except that up to the time of his first trial he lived in private lodgings at his own expense with a single soldier to guard him and relative freedom of movement. Taking advantage of this, he immediately started preaching the faith to whomever he came in contact with — Jews and Gentiles, slaves and freemen, soldiers and senators. There was no diminution in his energy and activity.
However, Scripture scholars, working on the later epistles and drawing inferences from statements made there have managed to give us quite a detailed picture of the final years which only those who have read a good biography of our saint will be aware of.
After his first trial and acquittal he had three years of complete freedom during which he embarked on what could be called a fourth missionary journey. First came a trip of unknown length to preach the Gospel in Spain. This would seem to have been followed by a year or more in Rome. Finally he set out on another trip revisiting the communities he had founded around the eastern Mediterranean and founding some new ones. Crete, for example.
But by this time the Neronian persecution was underway, the imperial police were on his tracks, and he was soon back in Rome, strictly imprisoned this time, awaiting his second trial.
Meanwhile, to complement the scholarly reconstructions of these final years we have the traditions associated with different sites in Rome. Some of these, like the Mamertine prison and the catacombs, are the same as those I mentioned in my “Portrait of St. Peter.”
This is not the place to go into the authenticity or reliability of each of these traditions. But taken together they give a trustworthy picture, I believe, of the kind of life he would certainly been leading during his years in Rome in addition to touching our hearts and kindling our imaginations. The late 19th to early 20th-century Roman historian and archaeologist, Rodolfo Lanciani, a citizen of Rome and an excellent writer, is one of the best guides I know.
Among other things he provides archaeological and other evidence both about our saint’s appearance and about his relationship with the philosopher Seneca.
About Paul’s appearance he writes: “There is no doubt that the likenesses of Saints Peter and Paul have been carefully preserved in Rome ever since their lifetime, and that they were familiar to everyone, even to schoolchildren. These portraits have come down to us by scores.”
We find them not only in paintings in the catacombs but also on innumerable metal and pottery “souvenirs,” as we would call them, dating from early Christian times. “St. Peter’s face is full and strong, with short curly hair and beard, while St. Paul appears more wiry and thin, slightly bald with a long pointed beard. The antiquity and genuineness of both types cannot be doubted.”
Elsewhere he speaks of “the sympathy and charm” inspired and conveyed by the representations of St. Paul. “The expression of the face,” he writes, “is calm and benevolent with a gentle touch of sadness.”
We should remember that, given the then state of Roman civilization, it is more than likely that the apostles’ richer converts would have had their portraits painted or engraved the way we have photographs of our friends and families.
About our saint’s relationship with Seneca, Lanciani reminds us in the first place that when the apostle was arrested and tried in Corinth it was by Seneca’s brother, the proconsul Marcus Annius Gallio (Acts 18:12-16). He then goes on to explain that when St. Paul arrived in Rome, he was handed over to Afranius Burro, prefect of the praetorium, an intimate friend of Seneca and that Seneca himself, who was consul suffectus at the time, would have been responsible for St. Paul’s case.
In addition he cites archaeological evidence demonstrating close contacts between both Saints Peter and Paul and the Annius family of which Seneca was a member. “We also know,” he continues, that “the presence of the prisoner and his wonderful eloquence in preaching the new faith, created a profound sensation among the members of the praetorium and the imperial household” to which he could have added the Roman ruling class generally.
None of this need surprise us. Anyone who once met St. Paul is unlikely ever to have forgotten the experience, leaving aside all the miracles he worked.
The end came in a field on a hill above the Via Ostiensis, today called Tre Fontane, a few miles beyond St. Paul without the Walls, the great apostle’s final resting place.
As a Roman citizen St. Paul was executed rather than crucified and something said by Pope St. Clement I suggests that Nero was present. If so, we can see it as the one wise thing that model of imperial infamy did in his life. It is impossible to believe that, as he went to his death, the great apostle did not pray for the salvation of his persecutor or that, given the circumstances, the prayers could have gone unanswered.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

I wonder how someone becomes an abortion doctor

Like what's going on in your mind when you choose that as your career

"Kill some babies? Hmmm.. yeah I guess I can see myself doing that for the next 30 or so years"

Controversial tweet. Might delete!

30 years ago, Catholics who warned about the homosexual abuse wracking the Church were reviled by bishops & ignored by major media. The late Paul Likoudis, intrepid and faithful researcher @TheWandererNews, was persona non grata @USCCB, but he's now been vindicated. deo gratias.

Stephen White on Twitter

“The ongoing circus in the Diocese of Buffalo should remind everyone: The price the Church pays for trying to save face is, in the end, always g...

twitter.com

Load More...

Missouri AG refers 12 former Catholic priests for potential prosecution after abuse probe

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Friday that his office had referred 12 former Roman Catholic priests for possible criminal prosecution following a 13-month probe of how diocesan leaders handled allegations of child abuse. The investigation reviewed personnel records for every priest serving…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke, Bishop Schneider call for prayer crusade, cite dangers of Amazon Synod

Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider have issued an eight-page declaration warning against six “serious theological errors and heresies” they say are contained in the Amazonian Synod working document, and calling for prayer and fasting to prevent them being approved. Cardinal Burke, patron…Continue Reading

Leader of Jesuit order: Satan doesn’t exist as ‘personal’ reality, only ‘symbolic’

August 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The devil is a not a personal reality but a symbol for evil, the head of the Jesuit order said this week. Satan, the devil whom the Catholic Church says was behind the fall of…Continue Reading

American Catholics Must Stand with Hong Kong

The autonomous territory of Hong Kong is in a fight for its life. For over two months, the citizens of Hong Kong have persisted in protesting an attempt by the Hong Kong chief executive to impose an amendment to the…Continue Reading

German archbishop in Auschwitz: Stand up against hubris of the politically powerful

Krakow, Poland, Aug 14, 2019 / 02:31 pm (CNA).- On the eve of the 80th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, a German archbishop has called for a stand against hubris and arrogance of those in political power. Speaking…Continue Reading

Vatican ‘struggling to put out fire’ of public scandal over JPII Institute purge

ROME, August 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The “firefighters for the new direction” being taken at the John Paul II Institute in Rome are “struggling” to put out a blaze of public scandal, as controversy sparked by a recent purge of professors threatens to reach the door of the Pope’s…Continue Reading

Survey on Catholic belief in the Eucharist prompts calls for better catechesis

Washington D.C., Aug 10, 2019 / 03:32 pm (CNA).- After a recent survey found that two-thirds of Catholics do not believe Church teaching about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Catholic commenters are stressing the importance of better…Continue Reading

Apple News bans LifeSite without warning: says it ‘shows intolerance’

July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A little over one week ago, Apple approved LifeSiteNews’ application to publish our news on their Apple News platform. Today, without warning, Apple News abruptly reversed course, telling LifeSite that they had deleted our channel and all…Continue Reading

Kamala Harris’ “Medicare for All” Plan Will Force Americans to Fund Abortions

Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris released her own Medicare-for-all proposal today. Just like the proposal handed down by pro-abortion presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Harris’s plan would force Americans to fund abortions. Harris confirms her plan will cover abortions in an…Continue Reading

Pew report: Only half of America’s Catholics know what the Church teaches about Communion

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 26, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) ― Do only half of America’s Catholics know what their Church teaches about Holy Communion? In a recent report called “What Americans Know About Religion,” the Pew Research Center suggested that Catholics are divided…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Businessman Michael Lindell, Creator of MyPillow, May Run Against Pro-Abortion Ilhan Omar

Michael Lindell is a pro-life businessman and the creator of MyPillow, a successful invention and company in its own right. Lindell was responsible for helping to fund production of the popular movie “Unplanned,” but now he’s turning his attention to…Continue Reading

Tucker Carlson: big business is now at war against your family

July 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The first thing to note about Tucker Carlson is that when he’s on stage and riffing on his irritations, he is hilarious. He began his keynote speech at the National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Rochester diocese, facing flood of sex-abuse claims, files for bankruptcy protection

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, facing potentially huge judgments for past sexual abuse by its priests and other ministers, filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday. “This was a very difficult and painful decision,” Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matano said at an afternoon news conference that detailed the action. The diocese filed its petition for Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Rochester at about 9:30 a.m. The petition estimates the diocese’s…Continue Reading

A New Church?

St. Peter Claver was born at Verdu, Catalonia, Spain, in 1580, of impoverished parents descended from ancient families. He studied at the Jesuit college of Barcelona, entered the Jesuit novitiate at Tarragona in 1602, and took his final vows on August 8th, 1604. While studying, the young religious was influenced by St. Alphonsus Rodriguez to go to the Indies and save “millions of perishing souls.” In 1610, he landed at Cartagena (modern Colombia), the principle slave market of the New World, where a thousand slaves were landed every month. After his ordination in 1616,…Continue Reading

Pope Francis’ in-flight press conference

popef105

(Vatican News) Press conference on the flight back from his Apostolic Journey in Southern Africa: Pope Francis recalls the joy of the children he met and affirms that the State has the duty to take care of families. He says that xenophobia is “a disease” and asks that people’s identities be preserved from ideological colonization. He speaks of the criticisms he receives and replies to a question on schismatic temptations with: “I pray that schisms…Continue Reading

Half of Catholics attending Mass 28 years ago no longer do, figures show

You may have noticed the space in church pews widening between you and your fellow Catholics attending Sunday Mass in recent years. It is not your imagination. Mass attendance in parishes of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been dropping for years, and several factors have steepened the long-term pattern of decline to the point where today, half as many Catholics in the archdiocese attend Mass regularly as did a generation ago. The findings of the…Continue Reading

Catholics to gather near Vatican next month to pray for Church in her hour of crisis

ROME, September 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Catholics from around the world are being invited to assemble, on Oct. 5, near St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, to pray for the Church as she lives through what many see as the hour of her “Passion.” The announcement came in a letter published on Sept. 6 on Stilum Curae, a blog hosted by respected Italian journalist Marco Tosatti. According to the letter (see full text below), an interna

Advertisement3

When The Obvious Is No Longer Obvious

By DONALD DeMARCO The late Fr. James Schall, SJ, was a great admirer of Samuel Johnson and, by his own admission, read something from Boswell’s Life of Johnson almost every day. Dr. Johnson was one of the most formidable figures of literature and life of the eighteenth century. He made lasting contributions as a poet,…Continue Reading

After Bolton, Trump Goals Remain Unrealized

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN The sudden and bitter departure of John Bolton from the White House was baked in the cake from the day he arrived there. For Bolton’s worldview, formed and fixed in a Cold War that ended in 1991, was irreconcilable with the policies Donald Trump promised in his 2016 campaign. Indeed, Trump…Continue Reading

K Of C State Council . . . Helps Sponsor Cardinal Burke’s Upcoming Detroit Address

The State Council of Knights of Columbus made a generous donation to help Call to Holiness bring Raymond Cardinal Burke to speak at a dinner on October 26 outside Detroit. The cardinal’s celebration of Mass on the following day will contain all of the ceremony appropriate for a prince of the Church. Cardinal Burke was…Continue Reading

New Divorce Bill In The UK… The Case Against No Fault Divorce

By PIERS SHEPHERD On June 13, 2019, the British government published the Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Bill. The purpose of this legislation is to remove the concept of “fault” from the divorce process, effectively allowing divorce on demand, subject to a six-month waiting period, and taking away any right of either party to contest the…Continue Reading

What Happened To The Concept Of “Person” In American Legal Theory?

By JUDE DOUGHERTY In a sense, there is no such thing as American legal theory. Like science, theory transcends national boundaries. The legal theory in the United States has deep roots in classical and medieval philosophy and more immediately in the British common law. To seek the roots of the current legal meaning of “person”…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. There appears to be some speculation that Pope John Paul I was murdered during the Vatican Bank/Mafia scandal in the late Seventies, especially in the actions of Jean-Marie Cardinal Villot, who appeared shortly after the Pope’s death and essentially was responsible for cleaning and removing all possible evidence from the Holy Father’s bedroom. Your input, please. — R.B.K., via…Continue Reading

Founding Professor . . . Laments “Destruction” Of John Paul II Institute

(LifeSiteNews Editor’s Note: The following is an English translation of the “Public Statement Concerning the Turmoil Surrounding the Pope John Paul II Institute for the Family in Rome,” released on August 28. (The “Statement” was addressed to: Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Great Chancellor of the Institute; Monsignor Pierangelo Sequeri, President of the Institute; Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for…Continue Reading

We Need A Conversion Of Heart

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14 1 Tim. 1:12-17 Luke 15:1-32 In the Gospel reading we are told that tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to listen to Jesus. This did not sit well with the Pharisees who complained, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Many things could…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… The Storm That Never Passes

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “This too shall pass.” These words are often spoken in sympathy to those suffering the darkness of internal anguish or the mind-numbing pain of serious physical illness. Also, more famously, to someone enduring the storm breaking over him following criminal wrongdoing in the aftermath of Watergate: the president humiliated in resignation, Richard Nixon. Always true…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. On the controversial matter of whether to admit to Catholic schools children of same-sex parents, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League has written a very good article. Perhaps you could share it with your readers. — A.M.D., via e-mail. A. We are happy to do so. Here is some of what Mr. Donohue said: “Parents are not required to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Simon De Rojas

By CAROLE BRESLIN The subject of this article lived in a time of great saints, great Spanish saints, so it is not surprising that he is little known. St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) who wrote the Spiritual Exercises, St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) who reformed the Carmelites and wrote The Interior Castle, and St. John of the Cross who wrote…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Child Martyrs Of Tlaxcala

By CAROLE BRESLIN Viva Cristo Rey! This was the call of the Cristeros (1926-1929). Many Mexican saints were martyred during that massive and demonic persecution of the Catholic Church. One young man, José Sanchez del Rio, was only 14 years old when he died for his loyalty to the faith. He had refused to deny Christ, even under torture. Three…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)