Paul's Love Letters Get New Review
Abbot Discusses Winding Down of Jubilee Year
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ROME, JUNE 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The writings of St. Paul elaborate what happens when someone falls hopelessly in love with Christ, according to the Benedictine abbot at the Pauline basilica in Rome.
And, Father Edmund Power affirmed, the Pauline Jubilee Year that ends next week has served to give new focus to those writings.
"What I have noticed [about the jubilee]," the Benedictine said in an interview with earlychristians.org, "is the great desire to know Paul better, on the part of so many people, and the sense that maybe they have missed something very important -- because Paul’s writings are sometimes difficult."
Father Power admitted that it is hard to judge what kind of global repercussions the jubilee brought about, but that at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, there was "a fairly constant round of celebration." So much so, he added, that "there is hardly room for anything else."
Benedict XVI convoked the Pauline year last June. Next week at St. Paul's Outside the Walls, during vespers for Monday's feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Holy Father will officially bring it to a close.
Father Power said the original idea for the jubilee came from the archpriest of the basilica. "It was discussed with us, the monks, and then proposed to the Holy Father who welcomed it with enthusiasm," he added. "Our proposal was a symbolic date, more or less coinciding with the 2,000th anniversary of [Paul's] birth."
The Benedictine priest said the Pontiff took the initiative as an opportunity to highlight two basic possibilities: First, the chance to better get to know St. Paul, the apostle "who has had more influence on the Christian tradition than any other -- and knowing Paul and his writings means knowing Jesus Christ."
Second, Father Power added, the Holy Father saw the celebration in an ecumenical perspective. The chance to grow closer to non-Catholic Christians, in fact, was one of the main effects of the jubilee, the abbot contended. He noted how the Orthodox ecumenical patriarch also called a year of St. Paul, roughly coinciding with the Catholic celebration.
As the Pauline Jubilee Year comes to an end, Father Power recommended continuing to go deeper into the writings of the Apostle to the Gentiles.
"Paul is a person who fell 'hopelessly' in love with the crucified and risen Christ," he said. "The experience marked everything he did from then on. This is the deepest vocation of the Christian, for people young and old. Paul’s writings are an elaboration of the implications of this experience."
The Benedictine abbot suggested lectio divina as "one fundamental way to take advantage of this new prominence given to Paul."
"We monks prepared a division of the 13 letters of Paul into 365 short consecutive texts, one for each day of the year," he noted. "You could start on any day, and continue for a whole year."
Father Power explained: "Lectio divina includes the four traditional 'activities' of reading, meditating, praying and contemplating, and can be done alone or with other people. To the four a fifth can be added: 'acting,' with the question, 'What does this word of God urge me to do in practice?'"
"This leads to 'mission,' which was so important for Paul."
Nevertheless, the priest emphasized: "Mission follows falling in love with Christ: It doesn’t precede it."
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On the Net:
Full interview: www.earlychristians.org/docs_interest/Interview_Abbot_Power.html
Benedictine compilation of 365 excerpts from Paul's writings: http://www.abbaziasanpaolo.net/old_sito/lectio.en.pdf