The Mystical City of God concerning St. Paul
April 12, 2020
The devil tempts the people who he sees are more active in fulfilling God’s plan. He wants to use their virtues to actively go against the Church and God’s plans as he did with Saul.
THE CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL AND THE PART TAKEN THEREIN BY MOST HOLY MARY; OTHER HIDDEN MYSTERIES.
248. Our mother the Church, governed by the divine Spirit, celebrates the conversion of saint Paul as one of the greatest miracles of grace for the consolation of sinners; for, from a virulent and blasphemous persecutor of the name of Christ, as saint Paul calls himself (1 Tim. 1, 13), he was changed to an Apostle obtaining mercy through divine grace. As in obtaining it our great Queen bore such a prominent part, this rare miracle of the Omnipotent must not be passed over in this history. But its greatness can be better understood if the state of saint Paul as a persecutor of the Church at the time of his calling is explained, and when the causes, which induced him to signalize himself as such a strong champion of the law of Moses and bitter persecutor of Christ, are known.
249. Saint Paul was distinguished in Judaism for two reasons. The one was his own character, and the other was the diligence of the demon in availing himself of his naturally good qualities. Saint Paul was of a disposition generous, magnanimous, most noble, kind, active, courageous and constant. He had acquired many of the moral virtues. He glorified in being a staunch professor of the law of Moses, and in being studious and learned in it; although in truth he was ignorant of its essence, as he himself confesses to Timothy, because all his learning was human and terrestrial; like many Jews, he knew the law merely from the outside, without its spirit and without the divine insight, which was necessary to understand it rightly and to penetrate its mysteries. But as his ignorance seemed to him real knowledge and as he was gifted with a retentive memory and keen understanding, he was a great zealot for the traditions of the rabbis (Gal. 1, 14). He judged it an outrage and absurdity, that (as he thought), a new law, invented by a Man crucified as a criminal, should be published in opposition to them and to that law, which was given by God himself and received by Moses on the mount (Exod. 24). Hence he conceived a great hatred and contempt for Christ, his law and his disciples. Steeped in this error he called into activity all his moral virtues, (if that can be called virtue which was devoid of true chanty), and prided himself much in combating the errors of others. For that is a common fault with the children of Adam, that they please themselves in some good work without making the much more important effort to reform some of their vices. In this self-deception lived and acted Saul, deeply convinced that he was zealously promoting the honor of God in upholding the ancient law of Moses and its divine ordainments. It appeared to him that in acting thus he was defending God’s honor; for he had not really understood this law, which in its ceremonies and figures was but temporal and not eternal and which was necessarily to be abrogated by a more wise and powerful Legislator, as Moses himself foretold (Deut. 18, 15).
250. This indiscreet zeal and vehemence was fanned by the malice of Lucifer and his ministers, who irritated and roused him to even greater hatred against the law of our Savior Jesus Christ. Many times have I in the course of this history mentioned the malicious attempts and infernal schemes of this dragon against the holy Church. Among them was his anxious search for men, who should serve as apt and efficient instruments and executors of his malice. Lucifer by himself or his demons, although they are able to tempt men singly, are yet unable to raise up their rebellious banners in public or become leaders in any sect or sedition against God, unless it be through the assistance of some human being in leading on the blind and unenlightened. This cruel enemy was infuriated by the happy beginnings of the holy Church; he feared its progress, and burned with envy to see beings of a lower nature than himself raised to the participation of the Divinity and glory, which he himself had lost. He recognized the inclinations of Saul, his habits and the state of his interior, and all seemed to harmonize well with his own designs of destroying the Church of Christ through the willing hands of unbelievers.
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