Sing to the Lord!



St. Paul the patron saint of Cursillo

He is honored with 3 feast days:
Jan 25 Feast of St Paul - the apostle's conversion. 
Feb 10 Feast of St Paul - the shipwreck in Malta. 
June 29 Feast of Saints Peter & Paul - the day of their martyrdom.

Conversion of St. PaulOn June 29 2008 the church launched the first ever celebration of “Year of St. Paul.”  His impact on the teaching of the gospel has been an intimate part of the faith formation of every professing Christian because no other Christian Writer has contributed as much {Holy Spirit inspired} new testament letters.  He is believed to have written 14 letters, 9 to the 7 churches in Asia Minor, Greece, Rome, as well as four to other individuals. The 14th letter is to the Jewish Christians – the letter to the Hebrews.

Saul, Sha`ul the Israelite pronunciation, Paul, Paulus Latin name, was born a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. He was born in the city of Tarsus, the capital of the roman province of Cilicia. Cilicia was located on the southeast coast of Turkey. Tarsus was given special recognition by the roman political leader Marc Anthony. He gave Tarsus the status of roman provincial capital.  As a side note it was in 41BC that Marc Anthony had that fateful meeting with Cleopatra VII of Egypt.

Paul held duel citizenship in both tarsus and Rome and was given the rights and privileges awarded to both cities. This proved invaluable to him several times in his missionary journeys.

Paul was a Pharisee as was his father. Paul’s father must have provided some important service to the empire to be granted roman citizenship. His wealth and influence probably contributed to Paul receiving a good education. Paul spoke Greek, the international language of his people, Aramaic, the common language of the region, and Hebrew, the liturgical language of his people. He must have been very smart as a youth because his father sent him to study under the great rabbinic scholar and Sanhedrin council member Gamaliel.  Acts22:5  Acts 5:34-39

After his apprenticeship and studies he was later appointed an officer of the Sanhedrin [the Jewish civil and religious law court]. It was in this position he was witness to the martyrdom of St Steven circa 37AD. It was also in this position he was sent to Damascus-Syria with the authorization to hunt, arrest and persecute suspected followers of Jesus of Nazareth. It was on that road the turning point of his life occurred, his encounter with Jesus the Christ the risen Lord and Savior. You can read about it 3 times in acts.

Acts 9:1-19 Acts 22:4-16 Acts 26:1-23.  To continue after the 3rd day of blindness and distress the lord sent his servant Ananias to lay hands on him and call down the power of God the Holy Spirit onto Paul to restore his sight and give him his great mission, to spread the gospel of salvation to the pagan gentiles, to kings, and his own people. After he recovered his health he went to Arabia, where he studied and prayed 3 years in preparation for his mission.  Galatians 1:16-18  He became so skillful using the rhetoric and knowledge taught him by Gamaliel , that in Arabia & Damascus  while he was teaching he was converting large numbers. He became a threat to the Jews and had to flee Damascus by being lowered down the city wall in a basket.

It was then he went to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and the other Apostles. They remembered him as a persecutor and did not trust him. Joseph Barnabas, a Levite from Cyprus and a member of the faith community, took charge of Paul and brought him to the apostles. After a time of moving around and preaching freely in the city, Paul again came under threat of death and he fled to Tarsus. It was there that Barnabas, who was sent to Antioch, Syria to teach the faith, convinced Paul to come with him to share in the mission at Antioch. It was the church in Antioch that first used the name Christian. It was also this church that funded Paul’s three missionary journeys.

Returning from there 1st successful missionary journey Paul and Barnabus discovered that Jewish Christian Pharisees visiting Antioch from Jerusalem had stirred up trouble. The Antioch communities were mixed gentile and Jew working together as one faith filled community. The Jewish Christian Pharisees from Jerusalem said that unless they were circumcised and observed the other commands and prohibitions of the old covenant law they were not members of the new covenant. Paul, Barnabus, and the whole Antioch community were so outraged that Paul and Barnabus were sent to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles. Many other communities sent representatives and in circa 49-50 AD the apostles and councils met under the leadership of Christ’s Vicar St. Peter and the presiding bishop of Jerusalem, St. James. This became the 1st great council of the church. The result was circumcision and obedience to the Law of Moses was not necessary. That those candidates for baptism must only refrain from eating meat sacrificed to idols, reject sexual immorality, avoid meat of strangled animals, and not drink blood. This was 14 years after Paul’s 1st visit to Jerusalem to meet the apostles.

Shortly after this council Paul and Barnabus returned to Antioch and that community funded the 2nd missionary journey to Asia Minor and Europe. This time however there was a falling out of sorts between Paul and Barnabus over St. Mark so Paul took Silas [circa 50-52A]

The Antioch then sent Paul on a 3rd journey circa 53-58AD in which he started a church in Ephesus. Ephesus was the 3rd most important city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria, Egypt. The Christian community in Ephesus would later become the Episcopal seat of St. John the apostle.

After this 3rd journey Paul went to Jerusalem to deliver contributions from the gentile Christians of Asia minor and Greece. The Jerusalem community was in a great depression at that time. The alms sent to them unfortunately were the start of more trouble. Because of Paul’s very successful work with gentiles the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem felt Paul abandon his respect for the Law of Moses and the church was losing its Jewish ethnic character. To appease them St James, bishop of Jerusalem, requested Paul personally pay for the sacrifices for 4 Jewish Christian men who had completed the Nazarene vows. You can find them in Numbers 6:1-21. Paul realizing that those sacrifices were null and void in the new covenant in Christ, Hebrews 10:4-10, still paid the large sum of money. Again unfortunately what St James thought would reconcile things blew up into a riot. It became necessary for roman soldiers to rescue Paul before he was killed by the Jewish crowd Acts 21:22-29, and Acts 22:22-24. This was another time his roman citizenship saved his life. He then executed his right to appeal to the roman authority and was taken to the roman governor.

Paul spent 2 years in Caesarea where he was under house arrest. Christians from all over Judea and beyond visited him and benefited from his teaching on Jesus the Christ. Many Roman political benefited and came to believe as well. Fearing the Jews were going to demand his return to Jerusalem for trial Paul appealed to Cesar, his right as a citizen, and was sent to Rome [circa 60AD].

Paul then spent 2 years their in Rome under house arrest. It was the brilliance of Paul’s teaching during this time that helped solidify the established church in the capital of the Roman Empire, even though St Peter founded that church circa 42AD. Paul was released from his confinement circa 62AD.    

Many Christian historians believe he made his last missionary journey circa 62-63AD before returning to Rome and being arrested by the roman authorities. By this time the roman government was vigorously persecuting Christians because of the burning of Rome circa 64AD blamed on the Christians. It is believed now that Nero their emperor started the fire.

Saints Peter and Paul both were arrested and later both martyred on the same day. St Peter was crucified ST Paul, because he was a roman citizen could not be crucified. He was beheaded outside the city wall on a road called the Ostian Way. It was June 29, 67AD.

Paul zealously dedicated his life to fulfilling Jesus commission to be his apostle to the gentiles.  He was unrelenting in his pursuit of the harvest of souls for Jesus. Paul endured imprisonment, beatings, a shipwreck and eventually death.

As Christians and Cursillistas we can use Paul’s conversion to see God’s Grace and Power. In spite of Paul’s attempts to completely eradicate Christianity God turned him around and used him. He can surely do the same with us. There is no fall so deep that Grace cannot descend to it and no height so high that Grace cannot lift a sinner to it. It also shows Gods power to use everything, even the hostile persecutor to achieve His divine purpose.


St. Paul's Seven Christian Gifts

St. Paul's Missionary Journeys

Life of St. Paul - Timeline