Friday, March 23, 2018

2 Takeaways from the Movie "Paul the Apostle"

I found this to be a FANTASTIC movie, and it portrays something that I think is HUGELY important for people to remember.

On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul last year, I was struck by and preached on the fact that many people look at Paul's conversion and say "I wish God would hit me with lightning...then I'd be like Paul and become a saint too."

But we KNOW that throughout the rest of his life, he struggled.  Unfortunately, sometimes we think of Paul like we think of Mary...automatons who had some religious experience, and so had no doubts and no real pains moving forward, like they just floated on air from that religious experience that they had.

"Paul the Apostle", though, shows the reality of being a disciple - struggle, suffering, doubts, tormented at times by thoughts of things done wrong in the past...and yet, despite this, Paul perseveres.  THAT is holiness.  And THAT is achievable for you and I as well.  

Satan gets so many people to give up by thinking that having doubts and fears means you are not a saint.  This film is in accordance with the testimony of the Saints and the Church, and thus gives people HOPE.

Anyone who has ever had any kind of religious conversion experience like St. Paul's getting hit by lightning KNOWS that the "religious high" never lasts - but for some reason we think it DID for Paul?  The guy was shipwrecked, beaten, scourged, stoned almost to death, harassed - if we think that he experienced that without difficulty, we deceive ourselves.

Therefore, I find James Faulkner's portrayal of Paul to be COMPLETELY in alignment with what the Church and her saints ACTUALLY teach about the reality of Christian living.  I thus find Faulkner's Paul to be a perfect antidote to the sugary preaching that seems to dominate our airwaves.  If the "Prosperity Gosepl" is a real thing, Paul definitely missed out on it!

2) The second take away that I have is simply this: every day priests and religious are given a reading by the Church.  Usually it is a homily or a teaching from a saint.  One of my top five readings of the entire year is from a homily by St. Fulgentius given to us for the Feast of St. Stephen

I share an excerpt here: 

"love led Stephen to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition. 

Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exalts, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy."

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