The Conversion of Saint Paul

Conversion of Saint PaulToday is the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul.

It is a good day to pray for and with our catechumens. And in fact, one of the minor exorcisms in The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults takes Saint Paul’s election, witness, and spirituality as its theme. This prayer would be especially suitable today.

The RCIA has this to say about the minor exorcisms: “They draw the attention of the catechumens to the real nature of the Christian life, the struggle between flesh and spirit, the importance of self-denial for reaching the blessedness of God’s kingdom, and the unending need for God’s help.” (RCIA 90).

Here is the prayer:

God of infinite wisdom, / you chose the apostle Paul / to proclaim your Son to every nation.

We pray that these your servants, / who look forward to baptism, / may follow in the footsteps of Paul / and trust, not in flesh and blood, / but in the call of your grace.

Probe their hearts and purify them, / so that, freed from all deception, / they may never look back / but strive always toward what is to come.

May they count everything as loss / compared with the unsurpassed worth of knowing your Son, / and so gain him as their eternal reward, / for he is Lord for ever and ever.

Amen.

(RCIA 94.J)

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12 comments

  1. Rita, thanks for bringing this up. I just wrote a paper about a Liturgical Response to Evil in the revised Roman Rite, I explore the Rite of Major Exorcism, the Public Prayer after the Desecration of a Church, and the Minor Exorcism and Anointings in Rites of Initiation. Regrettably that wasn’t one of the texts I was able to include. It is amazing how rich the euchology of liturgical texts are and how they form us and our beliefs.

  2. I dunno about this. This “sounds” too preconciliar to me.

    Exorcisms assume a possession otherwise what are we exorcising?
    I prefer using a rite of forgiveness and repentence for sinfulness. It automatically makes one self responsible for one’s own choices especially when one chooses to sin. Blaming the devil for it, “the devil made me do it”, is too easy because one is not at fault because something else made me do it.
    This isn’t the 12th century, hopefully because of Vatican II we are grown up Christians and can take responsibility for our sins. One cannot exorcise sinfulness and turning away from God and definitely not necessarily because we are possessed and need exorcising.
    I do not recall Christ exorcising his fellow apostles/disciples and any who followed Him, only those who were “possessed” were exorcised.

    1. Ha! See what I meant now, Sam? 😉
      You may try to convince Kim — if you wish!

      Kim, if you were just to read the text of this prayer by itself, without knowing it is called a minor exorcism, would you still have the same feeling about it?

      1. No, I don’t think I would call it an exorcism.
        It’s more a prayer of deliverance and fits nicely w/ our Lords Prayer: “..deliver us from evil”.
        I think exorcism denotes possession whereas deliverence denotes sinfulness.

      2. Rita an interesting footnote about St. Augustine that I think you and others might find interesting….

        From St. Augustine:
        Saint Augustine of Hippo, an influential theologian in the early Christian Church, argued in the early 400s that God alone could suspend the normal laws of the universe. In his view, neither Satan nor witches had supernatural powers or were capable of effectively invoking magic of any sort. It was the “error of the pagans” to believe in “some other divine power than the one God.”

      3. Kim, thanks very much.
        You said: It’s more a prayer of deliverance and fits nicely w/ our Lords Prayer: “..deliver us from evil”.

        That’s exactly how the prayers of this kind work in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

        Dale,
        It wasn’t my intention to discuss demonic possession! (Read the post linked by Sam above.) I think St. Paul’s conversion is interesting enough all by itself!

    2. In What American’s Really Believe , Rodney Stark asked about the sources of evil. Many people appear to believe it is multiply caused.

      Among Conservative Protestants 73% say the Devil causes evil, but 84% says that Mankind causes evil, and 39% say that Human nature causes evil.

      Among Liberal Protestants 34% say that the Devil causes evil, 92% say that Mankind causes evil, and only 17% say that Human nature causes evil.

      Among Roman Catholics 38% say the Devil causes evil, 90% say that Mankind causes evil, and 13% say that Human nature causes evil.

      Among Atheists 0% say the Devil causes evil, 88% say that Mankind causes evil, and 19% say that Human Nature causes evil.

      So most people seem to say that we are personally responsible for evil regardless of their beliefs about the Devil or Human nature. Only among a rather small percentage of Conservative Protestants is there any evidence that human responsibility might have been shifted to the Devil or Human nature.

    1. I think it is also a special day for the Paulists, although I do not know precisely at what “level” – can anyone help us out here?

      Belated good wishes to anyone who considers this feast part of their foundation or charism! (Of course, it’s a celebration for everybody in the Church…)

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