Today is January 25th, the day set aside on the Church calendar to celebrate the Conversion if St. Paul the Apostle. You know the story: Paul, still known as ‘Saul,’ a particularly zealous Pharisee who took special delight in arresting and bringing to capital punishment followers of “the Way,” as the Jewish sect that recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, was on his was to Damascus with authorization to cleanse that city of these followers. While en route, he was struck down by an apparition of Jesus.
From the Book of the Acts of the Apostles Ch. 9:3-9
And as he made the journey, it happened that he was approaching Damascus. And suddenly, a light from heaven shone around him.
And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”
And he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
And the Lord said to him, “Rise up and go into the city, and there you will be told what you ought to do.” Now the men who were accompanying him were standing stupefied, hearing indeed a voice, but seeing no one.
Then Saul rose up from the ground. And upon opening his eyes, he saw nothing. So leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.
And in that place, he was without sight for three days, and he neither ate nor drank.
And we know the rest. He became the Apostle to the Gentiles, extending the Kingdom of God to lands beyond the original birthplace of the Way.
I like this feast day for personal reasons. First, my name is Paul. Second, it’s about his conversion; the transformation from a former manner of living to a better one that is in service to the Lord. I connect that with my own reversion to the Faith after about 15 years of being away, followed by the onset of sobriety.
Sometimes conversions take time. Mine took about eight years. Others can happen right away. Like a bolt of lightning, something happens which tells you that God wants something better for you and you must follow. There are many inspirational stories in Catholic devotional books and ‘lives of the saints’ of people converting very quickly, almost ‘miraculously,’ from a life of sin to one of holiness.
The point is, anyone’s conversion is possible. No matter how infused with secularism and materialism one is, the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother can break through the barriers and reach the interior of a person. The power and attraction of the ‘world’ may seem irresistible and insurmountable, but with God, all things are possible.
One additional point is, He may use others as the instrument of conversion. If you are reading this blog fairly regularly, you or another you know probably trod the path of conversion from an addictive life to a sober one. Perhaps one reason for that is for you to be an instrument of conversion for others. You may be the only Gospel, or Catechism that another person sees any given day. Your actions and words may be the springboard from which another person begins their journey.
Something to ponder…If He used St. Paul for the purposes He intended, what might He use you for?Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)