Thursday, January 15, 2009

St Paul the First Hermit

This great saint deserves great attention: the first to flee into the desert and devote himself entirely to Christ, according to tradition, St Paul died at the age of 113 in 341, in the desert near Thebes in Egypt.  In his honour is named the Order of St Paul the First Hermit, an originally Hungarian order founded in 1250 or thereabouts that, after a great flowering in Eastern and Central Europe, suffered hard times at the hands of the secular powers, and was for a while reduced to two monasteries only, albeit one of them the famous shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa.  These Pauline Fathers are now in Australia, running centres of Marian devotion; their habit resembles the Dominican and Præmonstratensian.

The Mass of St Paul the First Hermit has most notably proper lessons, from Philippians iii, 7-12 and St Matthew xi, 25-30; these will repay careful consideration:

The things that were gain to me, the same I have counted loss for Christ.  Furthermore I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ: and may be found in him, not having my justice, which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ Jesus, which is of God, justice in faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death, if by any means I may attain to the resurrection which is from the dead; not as though I has already attained, or were already perfect; but I follow after, if I may by any means apprehend, wherein I am also apprehended by Christ Jesus.*

At that time, Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones.  Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in thy sight.  All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him.  Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.  Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.  For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

(*St Paul's advice continues in verses 13b-15a:

...forgetting the things that are behind, and stretching forth myself to those that are before, I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded...)

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