Friday, February 11, 2011

St. Paul and Fortitude

My son's report for Virtue Club:

St Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica, describes the gift of fortitude like this:

With the gift of fortitude/courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or even physical harm and death.

St. Paul was a great example of fortitude. You remember St Paul . . . .

He was born at Tarsus in Cilicia which is now Turkey. He lived around the time of Jesus but never met Him. Paul was first called Saul. As a young man, he was a very bright student of the Hebrew religion.
He hated the Christians. When he grew older he tortured and harassed the followers of Jesus. He was even at the stoning of St. Stephen the martyr.

In the Bible, in the Acts of the Apostles, you can read about Saul's amazing conversion (chapters 9, 22, 26).
What happened?

The Conversion of St. Paul by Peter Paul Rubens
One day, Paul was on his way to the city of Damascus to hunt down more Christians. Suddenly, a great light shone all around him and he was knocked to the ground. He was struck blind; and he heard a voice say, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"

Saul answered, "Who are you, Sir?" And the voice said, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting." Saul was shocked and confused. After a few seconds, he asked, "What do you want me to do?" Jesus told him to continue on to Damascus and there he would be told what to do.

At that moment, through the power of God, Saul received the gift to believe in Jesus. Weak and trembling, he reached out for help and his companions led him into Damascus. The light had blinded him temporarily. But now that he was blind he could really "see" the truth.

Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da
The Conversion of Saint Paul
painted 1600-1601
And Jesus had come personally to meet him, to invite him to conversion. Saul became a great lover of Jesus. He was baptized and changed his name to Paul to show that he was a changed person. Now he thought only of helping everyone know and love Jesus, the Savior.

We know Saul by his Roman name of Paul. He is called "the apostle." He traveled all over the world, preaching the Good News and led so many people to Jesus. He worked and suffered greatly.

He was stoned, beaten and even put into prison.  Even though his enemies tried to kill him several times - nothing could stop him. That is a great example of fortitude (courage).

When he was old and tired, he was once again put in prison and sentenced to die. Still St. Paul was happy to suffer and even die for Christ. (Colossians 1:24 "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking 14 in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church")

This great apostle wrote wonderful letters to the Christians. They are in the Bible. These letters, called epistles, are read often during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.


Here is a list of the Epistles of Paul in the Bible. (I am still working on details about each Epistle)



First Thessalonians





Second Thessalonians





First Corinthians


On Paul's first visit to Corinth  he stays a year and a half (Acts 18:5)


Second Corinthians


Corinth
is a wealthy, immoral city that is twice evangelized by Paul


Galatians





Romans





Ephesians





Philippians





Colossians





Philemon





Hebrews





Titus





First Timothy





Second Timothy




SOURCES:
SauldieBibleStudy (Protestant)
Catholic Notebook
NAB @ the USCCB site
Communio
Holy Spirit Interactive
Chronology of St. Paul's Epistles (Protestant)

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