National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

St. Paul’s Year Begins …

User's Guide to Sunday

BY Tom & April Hoopes

June 22-28, 2008 Issue | Posted 6/17/08 at 12:36 PM


Sunday, June 29, is the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul (Liturgical Year A, Cycle II). At 6 p.m. on Saturday, at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI will solemnly open the year of St. Paul, marking two millennia since his birth. At 9:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, he will give the pallium to metropolitan archbishops at St. Peter’s. The pallium is a wool liturgical garment.


The Vatican has granted a plenary indulgence during the Pauline Year for those who fulfill the requirements of confession, Communion and prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions “in total detachment from sin,” and also:

1. Make a pilgrimage to St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome and pray for the Holy Father’s intentions at the altar of confession, invoking the Blessed Mother and St. Paul.

2. The Catholic faithful in any local church can obtain the indulgence by participating with devotion in a liturgy or other public event dedicated to St. Paul — in any sacred place on the opening and closing days of the jubilee year, and on other days in places designated by the local bishop. The sick must intend to as soon as they’re able.

Media is Steve Ray’s blog. is the website of Ignatius Press, which distributes Steve Ray’s video.

Our family greatly enjoys Steve Ray’s “Footprints of God” video series about figures from the Bible..

Ray calls the DVD “A rollicking adventure biography on St. Paul filmed in six countries. Steve visits his birthplace, the Road to Damascus (where Saul was knocked to the ground), Antioch, Jerusalem, Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus and more.”


Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 34:2-9; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19 offers free homily packs for priests.

Our Take

Pope Benedict XVI, in announcing the year of St. Paul last year, gave some lessons we can learn from St. Paul.

1. Evangelization is necessary to Christians.

The Holy Father said the Church needs modern Christians who will imitate Paul’s missionary energy and spirit of sacrifice. We need to look at our immediate sphere of influence: our family, parish and community. But we should always work to broaden that sphere of influence as much as possible to spread the Kingdom of Christ, like Paul did.

2. Disagreements are human nature, but charity is eternal.

The Pope also pointed out that the Pauline year opens on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. They were very different figures with different roles in the Church, and there was tension between them, the Pope said, but together they helped build the Church and showed the world “a new way of being brothers.” Paul also had a famously sharp disagreement with St. Barnabas, so acrimonious that they split. When the Church seems polarized, we can take comfort that there have always been big disagreements in the Church — and even greater charity.

3. Our Church is built on the sacrifice of the apostles.

It was only a few decades ago that Peter’s tomb was found to be buried deep beneath the center altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. Now Vatican experts have discovered a roughly cut marble sarcophagus deep beneath St. Paul Outside the Walls, which, said Pope Benedict: “according to the common opinion of the experts and unopposed tradition holds the remains of the apostle Paul.”

It should strengthen our faith to know that our Church was built on the martyrdom of the apostles.

4. Be ready for martyrdom.

These are scary times, with new legal challenges are making it criminal to be a believing Catholic on some issues in Canada and elsewhere. Don’t worry, said the Pope.

The Church’s actions are credible and effective only to the extent that Christians are willing to “pay personally for their faith in Christ, in every situation,” said Pope Benedict. Where this commitment is lacking, the appeal of the Gospel will be weaker, he said.

Paul “lived and worked for Christ; he suffered and died for him. How current is his example today!”

The Hoopeses are editorial directors of Faith & Family magazine (