Monday, July 31, 2017



Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 Spirit Singing-St. Paul Church North Canton, Ohio

Scripture tells us that St. Paul was blind for three days after a light from the sky brought him to his knees as he fell to the ground. The voice of the Lord spoke directly to him, telling him to go into the city. Saul obeyed.

...As he traveled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed about him. He fell to the ground..."Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?...I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting...(Acts 9:9)

Paul, a military man, who was used to giving orders, was suddenly obeying the voice of Jesus and others around him after this life-changing experience. He was able to trust those around him to lead him into the city. Once in the city, waiting to be told what to do, Saul has a vision: a man coming to him and healing him of his sudden blindness. 

St. Paul's conversion story should make us pause and think of how the Lord became the center of our life. Was our conversion experience as dramatic as Paul's? Or was it a gradual change of heart that led us to follow the Lord? Whether it's the story of St. Paul, or another saint, or a friend or family member, a person's spiritual conversion should leave us amazed and grateful for how the Holy Spirit works to convert the hearts of men.

Sometimes, others around us become that blinding light for us. They speak truthfully and sometimes harshly to us about our sinfulness and lack of virtue. Sometimes, it is the Holy Spirit that sheds the blinding light on us in our time of prayer. He convicts us of sin, encourages us in virtue, or sheds light on Scripture or Church teaching for us. St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) speaks of this sometimes painful light as "self-knowledge." It is the gift of the Holy Spirit who shows us who we truly are before the Lord. Hopefully, we respond in humility and not run in fear from the truth and give up on prayer.

The conversion of St. Paul reminds me of the prophet, Elijah. While St. Paul experienced an audible voice of the Lord, a voice that was heard by those around him, Elijah, the man of prayer, heard the voice of the Lord within his heart. For those of us who are seeking the Lord in prayer on a daily basis, we strive to hear His voice in our heart. We look for a word from Him, telling us what we should do, or we wait for a word of encouragement, or an admonition, or His gift of consolation. We are receptive to whatever He wishes to give us in the time of prayer.

We can recall that when we were first converted to the Lord, we needed the help of others to lead us, just as St. Paul needed his men to lead him into the city. Paul needed the wisdom of others to guide him, just as we need confessors and spiritual directors to lead and guide us. Paul was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit!  We who are baptized and confirmed Christians must go forth and evangelize just as Paul did. Sometimes the mission field is in our backyard with family, friends, and coworkers. Let us share the amazing grace of God with others.

"Amazing Grace...I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see!"

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

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