St Paul is at the heart of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. In the Easter Vigil, the beating heart of the process, the reading from St Paul to Romans describes what we are about:
When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised into his death.
Other traditions in the Church taking a different set of imagery for Baptism based on the Baptism of Jesus and John’s writing of the water and the Spirit, but we have Paul and the intimate connection between baptism and the Paschal mystery – the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. If the Paschal Mystery is the Big Bang it is Paul who is its Stephen Hawkings! Coming so soon after the event and realising that everything had changed. That Christ’s death and resurrection changed everything, but not only that but that we have a part in it.
For all his rhetoric Paul’s image of the body is central to his thinking — that we all have a part in being Christ, we are Christ’s ambassadors.
Paul is at the heart of the Rite in another way. At the very centre of all Paul’s writing is a person — Christ. Even though Paul never met Jesus in the flesh it is his response and devotion to the person who turned his life and all his thoughts around. Nothing was ever the same again.
In this year of St Paul:
- See how the second reading at Sunday Mass might feed your reflection and catechesis.
- Find out what your diocese is doing to celebrate the year.
- Have you a favourite passage — why not share it with your catechumens.
- Give a number of short passages from Paul for their prayer and reflection — there are times when Paul seems to be a string of familiar quotations