If I had a favorite week of saint days, this might be it. Yesterday we had St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers and journalists, today we have the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, and tomorrow, Saints Timothy and Titus. All communicators of Christ.
To me, of course, Saint Paul is much more than a model communicator for Christ. He is a good friend, a patron, and a spiritual father. But he is also an amazing apostle, especially considering he had to forge his own trail in witnessing to and proclaiming Christ. Our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, had great things to say about St. Paul, highlighting why he is such a great model for Christian communicators in the digital age. Here are just a couple of things he highlighted.
Alive in Christ
“Paul is the disciple who knows the Divine Master in his entirety. St. Paul lives Christ totally; he probes the profound mysteries of his doctrine, of his heart, of his sanctity, of his humanity and divinity. He sees him as the supreme Teacher, the Host, the Priest. He presents the total Christ as he had already defined himself: the Way, Truth, and Life.”
“Before the Institute [of the Pauline Family] was placed under the protection of St. Paul the Apostle, many prayers were offered. A saint was needed who excelled in holiness and who at the same time would serve as an example of the apostolate [mission of communicating Christ]. In himself, St. Paul had integrated holiness and apostolate. He truly loved Jesus Christ: ‘What will separate me from the charity of Christ? Nothing…’ Before rendering his ultimate witness to the Master, he gave his whole life to the apostolate. We often call attention to the activity of St. Paul, but first we should call attention to his prayer.”
“Saint Paul’s style of writing is highly personal, the mirror of a soul truly made to lead: ardent, fiery, sure of truth, affectionate as a mother, strong as a father.”
“The saint is not a worn-out man, a half-conscious individual who doesn’t know how to take his part in life. For St. Paul, sanctity is full maturity…
“The saint does not wrap himself up in himself; he opens himself up to development. He does not stay still; rather, his motto is growth and progress… Holiness is life, movement, nobility, dynamic enthusiasm!”
It’s interesting that, in my quick, superficial look at the writings of our Founder, he seems to highlight the “witness” and “transparency/authenticity” aspects of St. Paul as a communicator, rather than specific skills or creativity which St. Paul displayed abundantly, both in his life and his letters. Over the next few months, I’ll be praying about that and reflecting more in general on St. Paul as a communicator for Christ. I’ll begin by asking for his intercession for all Catholics working in the media and the arts with a prayer that I wrote several years ago:
Prayer to St. Paul, Communicator of Christ
Saint Paul, your heart was filled to overflowing with the love of your Lord Jesus Christ. It was impossible for you to stay silent about his great love for you and for all humanity; you could not keep the Good News to yourself.
You preached in places new and familiar, whether you felt welcome or not; you wrote letters filled with the Spirit and inventive phrases to try to capture the inexplicable mystery of Christ Jesus; sending them off to others in the hope of igniting in them that same unquenchable awe and joy.
Under your patronage, we too try to share with the world the unfathomable love of Christ, but our words seem poor and insufficient, our efforts deficient, our faith weak, and our doubts overwhelming.
We are not always certain what to say, what needs to be heard. What we hold inside seems incommunicable, inexpressible.
Help us to listen to the whisper of the Master in our hearts, in the anguished cries of our brothers and sisters.
Inspire us with the same fire that burned in your heart so that every act of communication will shine like a crystal that allows the Master’s glorious truth to pierce all blindness, his profound goodness to draw all hearts, his breath-catching beauty to break through all resistance.
Give us courage to risk, faith to entrust to the Master every word and action, love to persevere, openness to follow the Spirit’s lead, until those whom God wants to touch through our simple words and images are blessed, held, transformed in his grace. Amen.