The time of Saint Paul – Apostle to the Nations
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
In the Church we have begun the Year of St Paul, which will last till 29 June 2009. We are facing a very important time, a wide-angle reflection on Christianity, which was enormously influenced by St Paul. What we read about this Apostle in the Acts and in his Letters, which are an extraordinary theological work, interpretation of God’s Revelation, testifies to the fact that we can hardly imagine the Church and Christianity without the teaching of St Paul. The Year of St Paul is a good occasion to look at the work of evangelisation. This disciple of Christ took to heart Christ’s calling to apostleship. Throughout centuries he has been an example of missionary involvement, which resulted from his absolute love for Christ. We constantly draw from St Paul; we base our teaching on his theology and take him as a model of evangelizer.
St Paul is called the Apostle to the Nations. One should notice that on the one hand, we have St Peter who especially devoted himself to evangelising the Jews, and on the other hand, we have St Paul who fulfilled his mission mainly among pagans. Proclaiming Christ both of them came to Rome and both gave their lives for him. Considering the special idea of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, who wanted to remind the Church of the figure of St Paul, we attached a little album entitled ‘Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Nations’ to ‘Niedziela’ on 22 June (you can also get the album in the editorial board of ‘Niedziela’). Thus we wanted to show our Readers the person of this great missionary and the places connected with his life and activities, which today may have completely different cultural dimensions and characters. The places show us the distances that St Paul covered during his mission as a preacher of Christ’s teaching. The photos, taken by our reporters in present-day Turkey, Greece and Rome, have been described by suitable verses from the Holy Scriptures, which are the best commentaries. The land of Jesus – the Holy Land – is said to be the fifth Gospel. And the territories of St Paul’s evangelisation complete the teaching of the Gospel to a marvellous extent. As I have mentioned some places are under the influence of a completely different culture today, e.g. Turkey inhabited by Muslims. But there is historical memory there. Bishop Luigi Padovese, the President of the Turkish Bishops’ Conference – a large interview with him was published in ‘Niedziela’, issue 24, on 15 June – is very glad to celebrate the Year of St Paul and he is looking forward to the celebrations in Tarsus, the hometown of the Apostle to the Nations. Since it is a great chance for the Church to be enriched again by the life of this Saint and it is also a chance for Christians in Turkey. Their number is small and they will certainly be more active and assume the courage of St Paul...
I want to remind you that the Library of ‘Niedziela’ has published the New Testament in eight practical pocket volumes. This year a special Synod of Bishops will be held in Rome to discuss the theme of the Word of God. We should read the Holy Scriptures as often as possible, and this year we should especially read the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of St Paul. Our Christianity should increase its reflection and theology on God’s Revelation. St Paul helps us see suffering Christ and victorious Christ. Apart from the above mentioned album we are preparing a bigger publication with photos, which were taken by our reporters who had followed St Paul’s footsteps. But this publication will appear after summer. We also have an interesting book – readings about St Paul prepared by Deacon Jacek Pawlowicz from Ukraine.
On 20 June 2008, an exhibition of art photographs showing the places of St Paul’s life and activities was opened along Sienkiewicza Avenue in Czestochowa. The exhibition will not only remind the citizens of Czestochowa but also pilgrims going to the Jasna Gora Shrine that the universal Church celebrates the Year of St Paul. It will make them interested in this great Apostle and in his teaching. The Church tries to meet people’s needs concerning their spiritual growth. Let us keep Paul’s guidelines; let us be close to his teaching. Sometimes the media publicize some events (e.g. football matches). Let us keep to the values that do not perish but last for ever. For indeed, only these values are meaningful; only they are important.