Category Archives: Christians/Christianity

Today is the Archangels’ feast day!

Today is the Feast Day of the Archangels!

September 29 traditionally was set aside as the Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel. (The word “saint” simply means “holy.”) Then the Church made it the feast day of all the Archangels.

Three Angels are named in the Bible:

  1. Michael: in Hebrew, the name means “Who is like God?”.
  2. Gabriel: in Hebrew, the name means “God is my might”.
  3. Raphael: in Hebrew, the name means “God has healed”.

Notice that all three names end with “El” — which means God, in Hebrew. Thus, each Archangel’s name ending in “el” means they are “of God.”

The word angel, in Greek, is angelos; in Hebrew, malach; in Arabic, mala’ika — which all mean “messenger.”

Angels are incorporeal (bodiless) spiritual beings who act as messengers and intermediaries between God and humanity. St. Augustine said that although angels are defined by their function as messengers or message-bearers, their activities are not limited to just this function. Created by God to serve Him, angels fulfill any and all tasks assigned to them.

my angels2In other words, being an angel or messenger simply denotes one of their functions, not their nature. St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that each angel is unique, a species unto itself — truly a mind-boggling idea.

Major philosophers — such as Thomas Aquinas, René Descartes, John Locke, and most recently, the American philosopher Mortimer Adler — have put forth compelling reasons for the existence of Angels. (For the conversion of Adler, a Jew, to the Catholic faith, see the moving account, “A Philosopher-Pagan Comes Home.)

Theologians maintain there is a hierarchy of Angels, due to the fact that in Genesis 3:24, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1, 10, Romans 8:38, Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 2:15, allusions are made to “seraphim,” “cherubim,” “thrones,” “dominions,” “mights,” “powers,” and “principalities” in the “heavenly places.”

Dionysius the Areopagite and St. Thomas Aquinas delineated three hierarchies of Angels, with each hierarchy comprised of three orders:

  • 1st hierarchy: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones.
  • 2nd hierarchy: Dominions, Virtues, Powers.
  • 3rd hierarchy: Principalities, Archangels, Angels.

Of the nine angelic orders, five are sent by God for external ministry among bodily creatures, as indicated by their names of Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels—all of which refer to some kind of administrative or executive office. Of these five orders, only the last three minister to human beings:

  • Principalities are in charge of the whole of humanity.
  • Archangels minister to nations — their leaders and those persons whom God tasks with special work to do on Earth.
  • Angels, the last order, are God’s messengers to and guardians of individual human beings.

That leaves the orders of Virtues and Powers who, by logical inference, minister to other bodily but nonhuman creatures. The latter would include the non-human animals, such as our pets, whom St. Bonaventure called “creatures without sin” — which is a happy thought indeed!

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

Archangel Gabriel appears to Mary. The Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli, 1485.

Gabriel’s name means “God is great.” The angel Gabriel appears to at least three people in the Bible:

  • To the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:16).
  • To the priest Zechariah to foretell and announce the miraculous birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19).
  • To the Virgin Mary to tell her that she would conceive and bear a son (Luke 1:26–38). As the angel of the Annunciation, Gabriel is the one who revealed that the Savior was to be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

St. Gabriel is recognized as the patron saint of messengers, telecommunication workers, and postal workers.

St. Raphael, the Archangel

st-raphael1The angel Raphael‘s name means “God heals.” This identity came about because of the biblical story that Raphael “healed” the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal Book of Enoch.

Raphael appears, by name, only in the Book of Tobit. , where he, disguised as a human named “Azarias the son of the great Ananias,” accompanies Tobiah, the son of Tobit, in his travels. When Raphael returns from his journey with Tobiah, he declares to Tobit that he was sent by the Lord to heal his blindness and deliver Sarah, Tobiah’s future wife, from the demon Asmodeus. It is then that the angel makes himself known as “the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tobit 12:15).

Although only the archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name in the New Testament, the Gospel of John 5:1-4 speaks of a healing pool at Bethesda where “An angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under.” This passage is generally associated with St. Raphael, the Archangel.

St. Raphael is the patron saint of travelers, the blind, bodily ills, happy meetings, nurses, physicians and medical workers. He is often pictured holding a staff and either holding or standing on a fish.

St. Michael, the Archangel

The name “Lucifer” means “Morning Star,” “Son of the Dawn,” or “Light Carrier.” For that reason, theologians believe that Lucifer was a high-order Angel, most likely the highest order — a Seraphim. Aquinas thought him to be “probably the highest of all the angels.” But Lucifer admires and loves himself more than his Creator and thinks himself to be “as God.” And so, swollen with narcissism and grandiosity, Lucifer rebelled, taking a third of the angelic beings with him.

StMichaelTheArchangelA lower-order Angel, full of courage and love of God, rallied together two-thirds of the angelic ranks against Lucifer and the other apostates, in the First War that began the enduring conflict between good and evil. As related in Revelation 12:7-9:

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it. 

That braveheart’s name is Micha-el, which means “Who is like God?” — Michael‘s battle cry.

St. Michael the Archangel is the prince of the heavenly armies and the most beloved of all the angels. He is mentioned in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he led the heavenly armies against those of the “great dragon”).

Described in Revelation 10:1 as a “mighty angel…with a halo around his head; his face was like the sun and his feet were like pillars of fire,” St. Michael is generally portrayed by artists as wearing full armor and carrying a sword or lance, with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the martyred St. George are often similar, but only Michael has wings.)

Michael has four main titles or offices. He is:

  • Patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament.
  • Patron saint and defender of the Church.
  • The Angel of death, who assists Jesus in the final judgment (thus, Michael is sometimes depicted with a scale).
  • Leading the good angels against the fallen angels or demons. For that reason, Christians consider St. Michael the most powerful defender of God’s people against evil. As such, Michael is also the patron saint of soldiers and policemen. (For the Prayer to St. Michael, go here.)

All of which is why St. Michael, the Braveheart of Angels, is my most favorite saint, whom I admire and love with all my heart. He is my commander in chief. As you can see from this blog’s masthead, he is also the protector of Fellowship of the Minds.

Happy Feast Day, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael!

Thank you for inspiring us with your humility, courage, goodness, and love for God.

Thank you, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for creating the marvelous Angels!

~Eowyn

For a fascinating account of one man’s experience with the Archangel Michael, click here. Check out FOTM‘s other angel posts here!

Sources:

  1. Mortimer J. Adler, The Angels and Us (New York: Macmillan, 1982).
  2. Matthew Bunson, Angels A to Z: A Who’s Who of the Heavenly Host (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), pp. 181-184.
  3. Michael H. Brown, Prayer of the Warrior (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Co., 1993), p. 34.
  4. René Descartes, Meditations On First Philosophy, trans. by Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis & Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1979).
  5. John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited with an introduction by A. D. Woozley (Cleveland & New York: Meridian Books, 1968),
  6. Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume One(New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947).

Sunday Devotional: ‘Who dwells in unapproachable light’

1 Timothy 6:11-16

But you, man of God, pursue righteousness,
devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called
when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus,
who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession,
to keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
that the blessed and only ruler
will make manifest at the proper time,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light,
and whom no human being has seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

The Holy Trinity of three Persons in one God is an enduring mystery that, through the ages, the brilliant minds of the brightest theologians have not been able to plumb.

Since Jesus, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, became incarnate, lived with, and was seen by countless percipient witnesses before He ascended and left our mortal coil, the “King of kings . . . who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see” referred to by St. Paul in the above passage can only be the First Person — the Father and Creator of the Universe.

As St. Paul said in Colossians 1:15:

“The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.”

Indeed, Jesus Himself said (John 14:6):

“I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Here’s a little glimpse of the unimaginable awesomeness of the Creator, “whom no human being has seen or can see”:

And yet the Being “who dwells in unapproachable light” sent His only Son to suffer and die for us puny wretched humans. In the words of St. Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5-6:

“For there is one God.
There is also one mediator
between God and the human race,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself as ransom for all.”

How He must love us . . . .

Christ crucified

May the love and peace and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Angel over Ground Zero, September 2016

On September 9, 2016, a professional photographer named Richard McCormack took a pic of the New York city skyline, and captured the beam of light shooting up from One World Trade Center — Ground Zero of 9/11.

Photo by Richard McCormack

Photo by Richard McCormack

On Sept. 12, 2016, McCormack posted the pic to his Facebook page, with this comment:

Zoom in to the top of beam do you see something, I took this photo no photo shop no gimmicks took many and only one showed this image ,copyright Richard J McCormack 9/9/2016

Here’s a close-up of the figure at the top of the beam of light.

angel-over-ground-zero-closeup

McCormack describes himself as a clerk at the County of Hudson, and a photographer at The Jersey Journal.

His intriguing photo has been published in a number of venues, including New Jersey 101.5:

Richard McCormack took several pictures of the Sept. 11 memorial lights on Friday. All of the pictures looked pretty much the same – all but one that depicts an image he can’t quite explain.

At the very top of one of the beam, where it meets the clouds, there appears to be a distinctly human-like figure. The Jersey City man, who freelances as a photographer around Hudson County, said the image didn’t appear in any of the identical photos he took from the same location, and the pictures wasn’t altered or edited in any way. In fact, McCormack said, he doesn’t even know how to use editing programs such as Photoshop.

According to McCormack, the picture was taken from the waterfront in Hoboken during a festival late last week — just two days before the country held countless services and events in memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The Hudson County man, a former postal worker who serves on the Jersey City Zoning Board, has seen the memorial lights before. He’s photographed them numerous times, but he says seeing the image at the top of the beam was a complete surprise.

“I did a double-take not knowing really what it was, but as I zoomed in it almost looked liked a vision of the Lord with his arms crossed,” said McCormack, who still remembers the horror that unfolded on 9/11. “I got very emotional, and I got tears in my eyes.”

McCormack said that while he does believe in prayer, he admittedly doesn’t go to church every week. He can’t say with any certainty what the image at the top of the beam is, but several people who commented on his picture on Facebook believe it’s spiritual, with many people saying they believe it to be an angel. At least one person recalled seeing it with her own eyes as she was driving.

“Yup. It’s an angel. Noticed it last night driving on the parkway,” Diane Brennan commented on the image, which McCormack posted around 9 p.m. Monday night and was quickly shared almost two dozen times.

Other people also commented, saying they believed it to be an angel or Jesus. Others, who know of McCormack’s lack of photo editing abilities, even commented on the authenticity of the picture.

“If someone else took the pic I would think this was Photoshopped…great pic Rich,” Linda Conner said.

Another person, Yvette Cid, also posted a comment saying, “Rich I know you don’t photo shop that’s an awesome pic wow I lost my two boys and I believe this is a sign to all that have lost a love one.”

Nancy Diaz, another commenter, said “it looks like there’s someone up there looking down.”

In fact, although he took the photos last week, McCormack said he didn’t even notice the anomaly until today. He said had he seen it yesterday, on 9/11, he would’ve been even more emotional.

“That day turned a lot of things around and changed our country,” he said of the terrorist attacks.

McCormack acknowleged that many people would either assume the photo was altered or that they would believe the image atop the beam can be easily attributed to other, non-spiritual factors such as the shape of the clouds. As of now, though, he still has no explanation but said he’s content knowing that so many people found a sense of comfort in seeing the photo.

See also “Angel and Devil on 9/11“.

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: Character matters

Luke 16:10, 13

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones….
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

cross1

Americans have developed the woeful ability to compartmentalize.

In 1998, during Bill Clinton’s second presidential term, his sordid adulterous affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky came the light. Clinton’s public denial of the affair (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”) led to his impeachment (and acquittal) for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Despite all that, I remember being dismayed at the time by a poll showing that a majority of Americans insisted that Clinton’s behavior was merely his “personal” life, which is separate from and does not affect his “public” life and conduct as U.S. president.

The words of Jesus in the above passage from Luke 16 is a reminder that morality cannot be compartmentalized and sectioned off into separate, discrete rooms. Instead, the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.” For “No servant can serve two masters”— you’re either with God, or you’re not. It’s that simple.

Let this be your guide in the upcoming November 8 election, as well as in all our dealings with each other and with ourselves.

Our Founding Fathers knew well morality cannot be compartmentalized, and how integral morality is for democratic self-government:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” -John Adams, 1798.

“Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” -George Washington.

“[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” -Benjamin Franklin

“[W]ithout virtue there can be no liberty.” -Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

“[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God.” -Gouverneur Morris, penman and signer of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Crossmedj

The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and with all our strength.

Jesus, I love You. Thank you for suffering and dying for me and for this wretched humanity.

May the peace and joy and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

Eowyn

Canadian woman, 81, has “Don’t euthanize me” tattoo on her shoulder

Last December, Quebec became the first jurisdiction in Canada to allow “competent” adults experiencing “intolerable suffering” at the end of life to request “medical aid in dying,” aka physician-assisted suicide, aka euthanasia.

In June of 2016, the Canadian Parliament legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide for all Canadians. Doctors, who had sworn the Hippocratic Oath of “First, do no harm,” now can administer lethal injections to mentally fit patients suffering an incurable illness who are in constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain, or in an advanced state of irreversible decline. 

But Christine Nagel, 81, with no confidence in the medical system, had “Don’t euthanize me” tattooed on her shoulders to let medical practitioners know her wishes.

christine-nagel

Below is her essay in Mercator Net, Sept. 15, 2016:

For years, I warned my children to steer clear of tattoo parlors, and now at 81 years old, I have had to resort to one myself.

Bill C-14 makes it legal for us to play God and to make decisions over life and death ourselves. Assisted suicide is promoted as the most dignified way to treat an aging population–humanely, painlessly and without the need for suffering. Financially, it will become the salvation to our overburdened health care systems.

Our Government and Supreme Court do not of course mention anything about money, but they do warn us that within a few years, seniors will outnumber the rest of the population and will need an army of caregivers to cope with them. That will be costly. Inevitably, euthanasia will become a more “socially acceptable” way to solve this problem, than for example Hitler’s “Final Solution”.

Obviously, none of this is acceptable to us Christians. We look to Christ on the cross, stripped of his garments, writhing in agony, and covered in blood–hardly a dignified image of God’s son.

Yet the meaning of this is central to our faith. Suffering is vital to life and to our growth. What occurs at the end of my life is between God and me. Let no one else dare to interfere.

So to understand this message clearly, read my shoulder!

Christine Nagel
Calgary, Alberta

See also:

~Eowyn

Epidemic of loneliness due to decline in religion & church attendance

Carolyn Moynihan reports for Mercator Net, Sept. 12, 2016, that according to The New York Times, there is an epidemic of loneliness in “advanced” economies:

  • In Britain and the United States about one in three people older than 65 live alone, and studies show 10% to 46% of those older than 60 are lonely.
  • In 2012, about 20% of older people in Canada reported feeling lonely. But you don’t have to be old to feel isolated: in a study of 34,000 Canadian university students, almost two thirds reported feeling “very lonely” in the past 12 months.

Dr. Carla M. Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, calls the epidemic of loneliness a public health crisis. She says, “The profound effects of loneliness on health and independence are a critical public health problem. It is no longer medically or ethically acceptable to ignore adults who feel lonely and marginalized.”

A study she conducted showed that, among adults over 60, those who reported feelings of loneliness had significantly higher rates of declining mobility, difficulty in performing routine daily activities, and death during 6 years of follow-up. This association remained significant even after taking into account people’s age, economic status, depression and other health problems.

University of Chicago neuroscience researcher John T. Cacioppo, who studies the social nature of the human brain, puts loneliness on the same instinctive level as thirst, hunger or pain – as a survival mechanism. In an interview he says:

“One of the things that surprised me was how important loneliness proved to be. It predicted morbidity. It predicted mortality. And that shocked me. When we experimentally manipulated loneliness, we found surprising changes in the “personalities” of people. There’s a lot more power to the perception of being socially isolated than any of us had thought.”

Cacioppo’s research has shown links to high blood pressure and impaired immune responses. Other research implicates loneliness in heart attacks and suicide.

Many things beside social circumstances — not having family members nearby or not having friends — contribute to the loneliness epidemic. The following two seem especially significant:

  1. Ethos of individualism: American culture’s emphasis placed on individualism makes “independence” the highest virtue and an excuse for not “needing” others or for not getting involved in the lives of needy people. But the reality of human life is interdependence — we need each other. In fact, a main argument for euthanasia is that people do not want to be dependent – even on their families – and this could become society’s “decent” option for lonely people.
  2. Decline of religion and church attendance has removed an important social as well as spiritual support for people of any age. Researchers reported from a European study last year that joining a religious organization is more beneficial to mental health than joining charity, sport, education or political groups for a sample of people over 50. Epidemiologist Dr. Mauricio Avendano, one of the authors of the report, noted:

“The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life. It is not clear to us how much this is about religion per se, or whether it may be about the sense of belonging and not being socially isolated.”

In the case of Christianity, it teaches us that even if we don’t have a loving family on earth, we have a loving Father in Heaven. Our faith also teaches us how to be loving mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and even enemies, so no one should ever feel abandoned.

Coming Home1

A personal note: I like to think that, in addition to its manifest function of informing, this blog, Fellowship of the Minds, also serves a social purpose by providing political conservatives and Christians with a sense of fellowship and camaraderie. I take some solace in knowing that FOTM did that for at least two of our faithful readers in their last years: Wild Bill Alaska and pnordman. Wild Bill, a military veteran, used to send me jokes, many of which I posted on FOTM; pnordman was a sweet and kind woman, who showered FOTM with her lavish praises and appreciation. Whereas pnordman lived with one of her sons and his family, in Wild Bill‘s case, our fellowship was particularly important because he had lived alone in a modest studio apartment — which I found out only after his passing from cancer. Their respective real names are William Barnham and Patricia Nordman. Both were true blue Christians. May they rest in peace with our Lord.

See also “Being alone is bad for our health,” Oct. 10, 2015.

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: He came for sinners

Luke 15:1-10

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

Good Shepherd saves lost lamb

It is said that the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit is to imagine that one’s sin(s) is so great that it is unforgivable. Imagine the gall of delimiting the omnipotence of the Creator! In other words, the sin against the Holy Spirit is not that God won’t or can’t forgive you; it is that the human refuses to ask for and receive forgiveness. Since God respects the free will He’s given us — even the freedom to not believe in Him and reject His mercy — He does not thrust Himself on us. And so the sinner remains unrepentant to the end, spurning the Creator’s clemency and love.

The proof against such an arrogant conviction that one’s sins are so great as to be unforgivable is in the lives and repentance of countless individuals who had done truly terrible deeds.

One of them is Saul, the highly-educated Roman Jew who hunted down and persecuted fellow Jews who were the earliest followers of Christ, most notably the killing by stoning of St. Stephen. Until the day when Christ really got Saul’s attention by striking him with blindness and spoke to him:

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Saul remained sightless and neither ate nor drank for 3 days, after which he became an entirely different man, which is always a mark of true conversion. He renamed himself Paul, which means “little”. Not only did he stop persecuting Christians, he became a devoted follower of Christ and arguably the most influential early missionary who spent the rest of his life traversing the Mediterranean Basin in a time when travel was arduous, laborious and dangerous, to bring His Word to both Jews and Gentiles.

More than any of Christ’s disciples, it was Paul who fully understood that, by His incarnation, death and resurrection, Jesus replaced the covenant of the Old Testament with a new covenant. This was made clear by Jesus Himself in the Last Supper:

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11.25; cf. Mt 26.27-29; Mk 14.24, Lk 22.20; Heb 8.6, 9.15).

Henceforth, God’s chosen are all who “take up their cross” and follow Jesus the Christ. In other words, what once was a tribal religion — Judaism — is now superceded by the universal faith of Christianity. That is why St. Paul is called the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Without the work of Paul, formerly the sinful Saul of Tarsus, you and I might not be Christians.

So if you think Christ had come only for the perfect and the good, here is Paul’s testimony:

1 Timothy 1:13-16

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.

Paul was beaten, arrested and imprisoned on more than one occasion. According to Christian tradition, he was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero on June 29, AD 67 — the same day as St. Peter was crucified upside down because Peter felt himself unworthy to be crucified as His Lord had been.

Shortly before he was martyred, St. Paul had written to St. Timothy these famous words:

“I am even now ready to be sacrificed, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. As for the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.”

For all these reasons — the sinful, pre-conversion Saul; the post-conversion Paul who turned his back on his past and devoted the rest of his life to Jesus; the Apostle to the Gentiles who taught us about Jesus’ New Covenant; the author of all those letters that teach and inspire “so long as men can breathe, or eyes can see”; the saint who so loves Jesus that he joyfully went to his martyrdom — I love and admire St. Paul with all my heart.

So whenever you imagine your sins to be so great as to be unforgivable — which, of course, is really your overweening arrogance speaking — just remember the man who once was named Saul.

Laughing JesusSee also:

May the love and peace and “ocean of mercy” of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn