Thu, 16 Jan 2014 05:07:17 +0000
First and foremost, I apologize to this wonderful Saint for my tardiness in drafting his post. I was busy with my Catholic Study Group and I have just now been able to set forth this important man’s life. Please forgive me St. Paul.
Today, January 15th, the universal Church honors St. Paul. He was an Egyptian hermit and friend of St. Jerome. Indeed and in fact, Paul’s life was composed in Latin by St. Jerome, in or about 375/376.
Paul was born in Egypt in or about 229 A.D., and as a young 15-year-0ld, he fled to the Theban desert during the persecution of Decius and Valerianus in or about 250 A.D. As I stated in my post yesterday, the Emperor Decius was the most raging Roman emperor with regard to the elimination of any and all Christians, and his goal was to eradicate Christianity entirely. This emperor was relentless in his pursuits against Christ; one can only conclude that Satan was his mentor and director.
At or about this time, Paul and his married sister lost their parents. So as to obtain Paul’s inheritance, his brother-in-law betrayed him to the persecutors. (I don’t think anything hurts more than being betrayed by a family member or a close friend.) He lived in the mountains of the desert in a cave near a clear spring and a palm tree, which provided him refreshment and some fruit, his only source of food. When he was 43 years of age, a raven began bringing Paul half a loaf of bread daily. Amazingly, he lived in that cave for the rest of his life, almost a hundred years.
The great St. Anthony of Egypt was told in a dream about Paul’s situation; so he went to find him. (St. Anthony was regularly physically assaulted by the devil, because of his great holiness and love; much like St. Pio (Padre Pio). St. Jerome set forth the details of this important meeting when he wrote about his life. He showed how each Saint, Paul and Anthony, invited the other to bless and break the bread. St. Paul held one side, putting the other side into the hands of Father Anthony, and soon the bread broke through the middle and each took his part. They were celebrating the Holy Eucharist.
The next time that St. Anthony visited St. Paul, he was dead at the age of 113, in the year 342. Anthony wrappe3d him in a tunic which was a present from the great St. Athanasius of Alexandria, and buried him. It was said that two lions helped to dig his grave. (I love St. Athanasius’ description and explanation of the Holy Eucharist, which is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as God making himself accessible to us.) St. Anthony described St. Paul as the first monk.
It is remarkable that St. Paul’s brother-in-law’s actions literally sprung St. Paul to his lifestyle and to great holiness. It is extremely hard to understand how a human being would have such fortitude to remain living in the harsh climate of a desert for so many years. But St. Paul’s love, courage, patience and diligence, especially his absolute Trust in Our Lord, rose him to greatness through a contemplative life. Heaven took care of this determined man, sending him food delivered by a raven as set out above, and making sure that St. Anthony visited him. And, his greatness was solidified in the fact that the well-known St. Athanasius acknowledged him, giving him a gift of a tunic, a kind of blanket.
And finally, the scholarly St. Jerome made sure that St. Paul would be remembered through posterity pursuant to his writings documenting his holiness and his life.
Let us learn from St. Paul’s example, to put Our Lord and our Faith first in our life and to Trust in God utterly and completely.
Sources: www.catholic.org; Wikipedia