St. Paul: A Vessel of Love filled with fire ~ What fills You with fire?

January 25th, 2021 ~ The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

Paul was an amazing man. He was small of stature; he refused to depend on charity–thus, he worked as a tentmaker wherever he went.  After he was severely beaten, he was in constant pain, but went on and on and on, because, as I tried to learn from him . . . .

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

~ Philippians 4:13

Paul before his conversion was known as Saul of Tarsus, and as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles he says, “I persecuted this Way (i.e. Christians) to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.” And then he tells the story of his conversion on the way to Damascus, that a great light blinded him and he heard a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (You can read the rest of the story in Acts 22: 1:16.) Or the alternative version given in the Mass readings below (Acts 9:1-22).

I enjoyed what St. John Chrysostom, a Bishop and Doctor of the Church, in the early church says about Paul in the divine office for today . . . .

Paul, more than anyone else, has shown us what man really is, and in what our nobility consists and in what virtue this particular animal is capable.  Each day he aimed even higher; each day he rose up with even greater ardor and faced with new eagerness the dangers that threatened him.  He summed up his attitude in his words: “I forget what lies behind me and I push on to what lies ahead.”  (There’s a lesson for us here, isn’t there?)

I never paid much attention to Paul until my later years.  And suddenly, I fell in love with him; thus, I’m writing this blog in his honor, despite the passages that show his Hebraic attitudes toward women and the misuse of his words about gay people. Here’s the reason . . . .

Chrysostom goes on to say that the most important point of all is . . . .

St. Paul knew himself to be loved by Christ.  Enjoying this love, he considers himself happier than anyone else . . . . He preferred to be thus loved and yet the least of all, or even among the damned, than to be without that love than be among the great and honored.  So too, in being loved by Christ he thought himself as possessing life, the world, the angels, the present and the future, the kingdom, the promise and countless blessings. Apart from that love nothing saddened or delighted him; for nothing earthly did he regard as bitter or sweet. (Another lesson for us, isn’t there, especially during this pandemic when we’re in lock-down mode for weeks on end?)

A few years ago, a priest-friend sent me a Christmas card with a favorite quote from St. Paul on the cover that I framed and still sits on my dining room table that I often glance at.  As I have had my own cup of suffering from long years of manic-depressive illness it means a great deal to me . . . .

My grace is sufficient for you,

for in weakness power reaches perfection.”  

And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  

For when I am powerless, it is then I am strong.  

              (2 Cor. 12:9-10) 

You see, Paul has helped me love my Lord ~ or rather to realize in tears of joy that Jesus loves me deeply and richly ~ as I am, weak and sinful.  He has raised me up and heals me, granting me the wonderful grace to share his love as best I can at the tip of my cursor ~ if in no other way.

And so, dear friends, know that you, too, are loved, whether you know it or not.  Our God is love!  Know that–despite whatever else you’ve been taught, despite how guilty you may feel or how unworthy you think you are.  YOU ARE LOVED!  THIS IS A MEANINGFUL UNIVERSE!

We’ll let St. Catherine of Siena have the last word that really grabbed me, Paul “became a vessel of love filled with fire to carry and preach God’s Word.   Amen.  Amen!  

And now, before you go, here are the St. Louis Jesuits singing the Prayer of their Founder, “Take, Lord, and Receive.”  It’s a beautiful prayer and a beautiful song. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen for the slide show that accompanies it.

And here are all of today’s mass readings for today’s Feast, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

A Vessel of Love filled with fire

IMG_0884January 25th, 2017 ~ The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

Paul was an amazing man. He was small of stature; he refused to depend on charity–thus, he worked as a tentmaker wherever he went.  After he was severely beaten, he was in constant pain, but went on and on and on, because, as I learned  tried to learn from him . . . .

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

~ Philippians 4:13

Paul before his conversion was known as Saul of Tarsus, and as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles he says, “I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.” And then he tells the story of his conversion on the way to Damascus, that a great light blinded him and he heard a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (You can read the rest of the story in Acts 22: 1:16.)

I enjoyed what St. John Chrysostom, a bishop in the early church says about Paul in the divine office for today . . . .

Paul, more than anyone else, has shown us what man really is, and in what our nobility consists and in what virtue this particular animal is capable.  Each day he aimed even higher; each day he rose up with even greater ardor and faced with new eagerness the dangers that threatened him.  He summed up his attitude in his words: “I forget what lies behind me and I push on to what lies ahead.” 

I never paid much attention to Paul until my later years.  And suddenly, I fell in love with him; thus, I’m writing this blog in his honor, despite the passages that show his Hebraic attitudes toward women and the misuse of his words about gay people. Here’s the reason . . . .

Chrysostom goes on to say that the most important thing of all that St. Paul knew himself to be loved by Christ.  Enjoying this love, he considers himself happier than anyone else . . . . He preferred to be thus loved and yet the least of all, or even among the damned, than to be without that love than be among the great and honored.  So too, in being loved by Christ he thought himself as possessing life, the world, the angels, the present and the future, the kingdom, the promise and countless blessings. Apart from that love nothing saddened or delighted him; for nothing earthly did he regard as bitter or sweet.

A few years ago, a priest-friend of mine sent me a Christmas card with a favorite quote from St. Paul on the cover that I framed and still sits on my dining room table that I often glance at.  As I have had my own cup of suffering from long years of manic-depressive illness it means a great deal to me . . . .

My grace is sufficient for you,

for in weakness power reaches perfection.”  

And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  

For when I am powerless, it is then I am strong.  

              (2 Cor. 12:9-10) 

You see, Paul has helped me love my Lord–or rather to deeply and richly realize in tears of joy that Jesus loves me–as I am, weak and sinful.  He has raised me up and heals me, granting me the wonderful grace to share his love as best I can at the tip of my cursor, if in no other way.

And so, dear friends, know that you, too, are loved, whether you know it or not.  Our God is love!  Know that–despite whatever else you’ve been taught, despite how guilty you may feel or how unworthy you think you are.  YOU ARE LOVED!  THIS IS A MEANINGFUL UNIVERSE! And if you want, call me and I’ll try to help ~ 904-315-5268.

We’ll let St. Catherine of Siena have the last word that really grabbed me, Paul “became a vessel of love filled with fire to carry and preach God’s Word.   Amen.  Amen!  

And now, before you go, here are the St. Louis Jesuits singing the Prayer of their Founder, “Take, Lord, and Receive.”  It’s a beautiful prayer and a beautiful song. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen for the slide show that accompanies it.

And here are all of today’s mass readings if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

The Jesus I know and Love

IMG_2022Dear Friends,

I promised you that I’d reflect on the Jesus I know and Love.  This will continue through Sunday’s readings.  These are the readings for the Thursday after Ash Wednesday.

In the first reading, Moses says:

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  Choose life, then, that you and your descendents may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

We often hear the word’s Choose Life as a Pro-Life message; that’s important.  But each of us are invited to choose life again and again, every day.  This Lent is an acceptable time to choose the life that affirms and nourishes us and extricate ourselves from the dysfunctional communication and game-playing within the walls of our own home that cauterise the souls of our spouse and our children.

Choose Life this day in the way you speak to and about everyone you meet today.   Choice is an act of the will, the highest power of the human person.  Choose your words carefully. Preside over and take responsibility for what comes out of your mouth; realize your words create life or death.

In the gospel, Jesus says,

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? (Luke 9: 22-25)

Jesus gives us a koan, a Zen word  that denotes a riddle that often takes a long time to get it.  Try to get into it this Lent. Ponder its meaning for you right now. Repeat it often until you get it.

It’s a counter-cultural message.  In our society people do everything to avoid the smallest bit of pain. They even have numbing pads so that you don’t feel an Accu-check stick.  And we avoid emotional pain by not thinking through our problems. We might be tempted to do this by running away.  A quicky divorce or a cruel text message to dump a girl friend who no longer suits you.

The Cross of Jesus is all about commitment. Lent places before us the Cross of Jesus and his loving embrace of it. He willingly stretched out his arms to be nailed. Jesus knew he would have to face immense suffering on his journey.  He knew  he would make people angry by telling the truth he realized in his heart.  He knew that it would lead him to death as he made his way up to Jerusalem. The issue is Acceptance of whatever life calls us to. Jesus  accepted the Cross because he chose to be faithful to his mission.

Jesus brought a brand new thinking and being into the world.  His message was that his Father-God embraces every person without exception.  His message was that He, Jesus, transcended the Law; that the only law was to love.  This went against the grain of those who saw him as a threat to all they knew.

In the desert, Jesus made a firm commitment to BE the truth that he saw in his heart no matter what.  Jesus embodied that highest moral standard: to commit his life to justice and love, no matter what it cost him.  His mission was very simple:   Stay on message, no matter what.    He was a person of absolute integrity.  No one was going to dissuade him from being who he was.

Very sadly, many in the church say that they believe in Jesus but are quick to condemn, quick to hate.  If you are one who has been condemned by the church or treated hatefully, I,  for one, ask forgiveness from you for I know Jesus would never want that for you.  And I ask for forgiveness and change of heart for those who do the condemning and the hating, even in this political season.

Finally, I  would like to be in solidarity with so many of us these days have crosses to bear that are profoundly difficult. Let us help each other to bear the cross we must carry.  But remember, the key is acceptance.  Acceptance, the willingness to be nailed is the secret to our recovery.

This is the Jesus I know and love:  The one who has the strength to love, no matter what. He’s my hero.  I would like very much to be like that.  How ’bout you?  Now. before you go, here are the St. Louis Jesuits singing the prayer of their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola “Take, Lord, Receive”. Click here.

And here are all of the readings, if you would like to reflect on them. Click here.

With Love

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

A vessel of love filled with fire

IMG_0884January 25th, 2016 ~ The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

Paul was an amazing man. He was small of stature; he refused to depend on charity–thus, he worked as a tent-maker wherever he went.  After he was severely beaten, he was in constant pain, but went on and on and on, because, as I myself learned . . . .

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

~ Philippians 4:13

Paul before his conversion was known as Saul of Tarsus, and as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles he says, “I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.” And then he tells the story of his conversion on the way to Damascus, that a great light blinded him and he heard a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (You can read the rest of the story in Acts 22: 1:16. 

I enjoyed what St. John Chrysostom, a bishop in the early church says about Paul in the divine office for today . . . .

Paul, more than anyone else, has shown us what man really is, and in what our nobility consists and in what virtue this particular animal is capable.  Each day he aimed even higher; each day he rose up with even greater ardor and faced with new eagerness the dangers that threatened him.  He summed up his attitude in his words: “I forget what lies behind me and I push on to what lies ahead.” 

I never paid much attention to Paul until recently.  And suddenly, I fell in love with him; thus, I’m writing this blog in his honor, despite his passages Hebraic attitudes toward women and the misuse of his words about gay people. Here’s the reason . . . .

Chrysostom goes on to say that the most important thing of all that St. Paul knew himself to be loved by Christ.  Enjoying this love, he considers himself happier than anyone else . . . . He preferred to be thus loved and be the least of all, or even among the damned, than to be without that love and be among the great and honored.  So too, in being loved by Christ he thought himself as possessing life, the world, the angels, the present and the future, the kingdom, the promise and countless blessings.  Apart from that love nothing saddened or delighted him; for nothing earthly did he regard as bitter or sweet.

In 2012, a priest-friend of mine sent me a Christmas card with a favorite quote from St. Paul on the cover that I framed and still sits on my dining room table that I often read.  As I have had my own cup of suffering from long years of manic-depressive illness it means a great deal to me . . . .

My grace is sufficient for you,

for in weakness power reaches perfection.”  

And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  

For when I am powerless, it is then I am strong.  

              (2 Cor. 12:9-10) 

You see, Paul has helped me love my Lord–or rather to deeply and richly realize in tears of joy that Jesus loves me–as I am, weak and sinful.  He has raised me up and heals me, granting me the wonderful grace to share his love as best I can at the tip of my cursor, if in no other way.

And so, dear friends, know that you, too, are loved, whether you know it or not.  Our God is love!  Know that–despite whatever else you’ve been taught, despite how guilty you may feel or how unworthy you think you are.  YOU ARE LOVED!  THIS IS A MEANINGFUL UNIVERSE! And if you want, call me and I’ll try to help ~ 904-315-5268.

We’ll let St. Catherine of Siena have the last word that really grabbed me, Paul “became a vessel of love filled with fire to carry and preach God’s Word.   Amen.  Amen!  

And now, before you go, here are the St. Louis Jesuits singing the Prayer of their Founder, “Take, Lord, and Receive.”  It’s a beautiful prayer and a beautiful song.  Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen for the slide show that accompanies it.

And here are all of today’s mass readings if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer