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Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Time Event
12:51a
The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
I was most pleased to learn today at Mass that we celebrated the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.

For those of you who forget the story, "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And the trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

"And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."

You would have to understand with what hatred and contempt I once held Christians and all forms of supernaturalism and spiritualism, what a loathsome and degrading superstition I held them all to be, to understand why the conversion of Saul, zealous enemy of the Church, has such penetrating personal meaning for me. I was once a petty little Saul, trying my best to shoot the arrows of scorn and doubt into the breast of every St. Stephen I chanced across. I noticed then, and recollect now with shame, how uniformly and unfailingly polite, courteous, and even-tempered was every Christian I interrogated and debated, no matter how base my own manners were, or haughty my demeanor. I noticed it, but I did not deduce anything from it.  In other words, they acted in the same spirit as Ananias.

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