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The Year of St. Paul

{ Tags: , \ Jun30 }

Pope Benedict XVI announced a year celebrating the birth of St. Paul beginning June 29. The year, it is hoped, would help in creating the right climate for ecumenical dialogues with the East. A Zenit report gives us an idea of what the year would be like:

Benedict XVI has declared June 2008-June 2009 the year of St. Paul in celebration of the 2,000th anniversary of the saint’s birth.

The Pope decreed the year in a vespers celebration held today at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The Holy Father explained during his homily: "This ‘Pauline Year’ will take place in a special way in Rome, where for 2,000 years under the papal altar of this basilica, lies the tomb that according to experts and undisputed tradition has conserved the remains of the apostle Paul."

The Pontiff said: "In the papal basilica and Benedictine abbey attached to it, there can take place a series of liturgical, cultural and ecumenical events, as well as
various pastoral and social initiatives, all of them inspired by Pauline spirituality.

"Special attention can also be given to pilgrims who from various places will want to go to the tomb of the Apostle in a penitential way in order to find spiritual benefits.

"Meetings for study will be promoted and there will be special publications on Pauline texts, to promote the immense richness of the teaching contained in them, true patrimony of humanity redeemed by Christ.

"Also, in every part of the world, similar initiatives will be organized in dioceses, sanctuaries and places of prayer by religious institutions, institutions of study and assistance, which carry the name of St. Paul or which have been inspired by him and his teaching."

Benedict XVI explained that this year must have an important "ecumenical dimension."

"The Apostle of the Gentiles, who dedicated himself to the spreading of the good
news to all peoples, spent himself for the unity and harmony of all Christians," the Pope said."May he guide us and protect us in this bimillenary celebration," he added, "helping us to advance in the humble and sincere search for the full unity of all the members of the mystical body of Christ."

For those working in BECs, it would be also a great year to be reminded that the Church started as so many small faith communities built around the teaching of the apostles and the breaking of the bread. St. Paul — if one may say it — built the first basic cell communities among the Gentiles. Not all synagogues where he introduced the new faith accepted him; some were even hostile (as Luke narrates in Acts). Paul had to change strategies because of this: he later on moved to households where those who became members of the new faith came together in fellowship. When Paul writes of “household of the faith” he was actually thinking of the first BECs.

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