Six years ago, I was privileged to be a pilgrim and pray with Archbishop Carlson as he received the Pallium as our new Archbishop. I had been to Rome several times before, but this time,something really struck me as we visited the many Churches and learned more about our beautiful faith.
I couldn’t help but notice the prominence of St. Paul in the sacred art of so many churches. Even those dedicated to other saints seemed to celebrate the life and influence of this great apostle who spread the gospel to the gentiles, including the people of Rome. St. Paul is depicted as the great apostle of strength and courage, who, along with Peter, helped spread the gospel to every corner of the earth. One of the most remarkable images of Paul can be found in the Basilica dedicated to him outside the walls of Rome. As you walk into the courtyard of this magnificent church, you see a large statue of Paul, holding a sword in his right hand and a book of the scriptures in his left hand. His head is covered in a hood, his eyes are looking down, and his expression is serious, almost to the point of being severe. This statue conveys the strength and inner resolve of Paul that enabled him to endure shipwrecks, stonings, persecutions, and so many other sufferings for the sake of Christ. And while this statue depicts the strength and power of Paul, we hear about another side of him in today’s second reading.
The Apostle Paul, like us all, knew weakness. He had what he called a thorn in the flesh – some believe that he had severe headaches, others, a battle with impurity, but whatever it was, we don’t know for sure. Three times, he tells us, he prayed that this weakness, this affliction might be removed, that he might be cured. On the third occasion when Paul prayed God answered him and said -“My grace is sufficient for you – for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ……….. Continue Reading on Fr. Schroeder’s blog.