Reflecting on St. Paul

by Jason Spoolstra

North Texas Catholic contributor

A view of the statue of the Apostle Paul standing in front of the Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, Italy. ( Perna)

Blessed be God!

Hello from Rome! We just spent our first full day in Rome. The last two days were spent full of flights, delays, and some serious jet lag. However, driving back on the streets of Rome reminded me why I think this is the best city in the world. With all its history and timelessness, there’s no wonder it is called “The Eternal City”. Of course for our Catholic faith it is the Eternal City because it is where the Vicar of Christ resides and the Bride of Christ, the Catholic Church will dwell until He comes again, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail.

Jason Spoolstra

Today we headed out to Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major), St. John Lateran (the Cathedral of Rome), St. Paul Outside the Walls, walked by the Colosseum, visited St. Peter in Chains, and finally went to one of the catacombs. It was a whirlwind of a tour but it was incredible. Two of my favorite things were going through the Holy Doors of the three main basilicas (we will go to the fourth and final of the “big” basilicas, St. Peter’s, on Saturday) for the Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy. I encourage everyone to go to at least one church in our diocese that has been designated as a holy doors site. If you are fortunate to be a parishioner at one of the designated churches then I would encourage you to go to another church in our diocese and make a mini-pilgrimage.

My second favorite experience was reflecting on St. Paul. Many churches in Rome show the depiction of Sts. Peter and Paul because in the Roman Catholic Church they are the pillars of our faith. I’ll focus on St. Peter later when we visit that basilica, but today I’ll reflect on St. Paul. This morning at Mass, Bishop Olson mentioned how sometimes when we read Scripture we can think “Oh! I already know this verse,” or story, or line within the Bible and start tuning out, or only listening to what we like. This made me think about St. Paul. I know I take for granted how much this man did for the Church. We normally hear from a letter of his in the second reading at the majority of Sunday Masses. Yet, kneeling right in front of his tomb at the basilica made me stop and recognize that he wasn’t just a man, who with the divine inspiration of God wrote half of the New Testament, but was a man of action and conviction who was willing to suffer and die because above all he was a disciple and apostle for Jesus Christ. For myself, I know I must ask for more of St. Paul’s intercession to be bold, brave, and faithful to Jesus Christ.

God Bless!

Jason Spoolstra

Jason is the director of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Fort Worth. He is a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Keller.

Hello from Rome! We just spent our first full day in Rome. The last two days were spent full of flights, delays, and some serious jet lag.