Tuesday, October 20, 2009


“St. Paul of the Cross”
Artist and Date are not sited.
[In the Dioceses of the United States]


Biographical Information about St. Paul of the Cross [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Paul of The Cross

Readings and Commentary:


1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Brothers and sisters:
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written:
I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the learning of the learned I will set aside.

Where is the wise one?
Where is the scribe?
Where is the debater of this age?
Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
For since in the wisdom of God
the world did not come to know God through wisdom,
it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation
to save those who have faith.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength

Commentary on
1 Cor 1:18-25

St. Paul begins this selection refuting those who point to Christ’s crucifixion as proof of Jesus’ fallibility by saying that faith, graciously given by God allows the Christian to see the victory in what appears to the scoffers to be a defeat (“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”) St. Paul supports his premise by quoting
Isaiah 29:14 attacking the “wisdom of the wise”. He calls Jesus a stumbling block for the Jews (probably because they expected a Royal Messiah taking power like King David) and again foolishness for the rational gentiles (Greeks) who pride themselves in logic – the cross is not logical for a savior.
St. Paul concludes by telling the community “those who were called”, that it is God who acts in them giving them faith (see also Romans 9:16) and that in the face of God’s omnipotence all the wisdom and strength of humanity pales in comparison.

CCC: 1 Cor 1:18 268; 1 Cor 1:24-25 272

Psalm 117:1bc, 2

R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!

R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.

R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Commentary on
Ps 117:1bc, 2

“This shortest of hymns calls on the nations to acknowledge God's supremacy. The supremacy of Israel's God has been demonstrated to them by the people's secure existence, which is owed entirely to God's gracious fidelity.”[3] Using a refrain from St. Mark’s Gospel, the psalm is one of praise for the Good News of God’s salvation.


Matthew 16:24-27

Jesus said to his disciples,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory,
and then he will repay each one according to his conduct."

Commentary on
Mt 16:24-27

This is the second time within the Gospel of St. Matthew the Lord instructs the disciples that if they wish to follow him, they must take up the cross (the first time is in
Matthew 10:38). This passage focuses the followers of Christ on the idea that serving the Lord must come before any other purposes in life since it is through following Jesus that eternal life is gained.

CCC: Mt 16:24-26 736; Mt 16:24 226, 618, 2029; Mt 16:25-26 363; Mt 16:25 2232; Mt 16:26 1021

St. Paul of the Cross (1694 - 1775) is memorialized on this, his feast day, because he lived the Gospel proclaimed in his honor. He was raised in Ovada in Liguria (in the Province of Alessandria in the Italian region Piedmont) the son of a merchant. The Lord called him and he answered, giving up all he owned and working to serve the poor and the infirm. He saw in these stricken people the passion of the Lord and the Cross upon which he suffered, giving great reverence to the sacrifice of the Crucifixion. While espousing a cheerful service, he took upon himself severe penance for his own failures, constantly seeking perfection in the love of Christ.

The Lord used him as an example of the lived faith for us. We see in our own lives, opportunities to reach out to those less fortunate and give to them not just from our surplus but from our own need. In this way we join our brothers and sisters who bear the cross of their sufferings in union with the Lord, offering their pain to him who bears all sin for our salvation.

Today we ask for the prayers of St. Paul of the Cross. We ask that the Lord give us the strength to bear any hardship with grace, always seeking his face and recalling his great passion. We also ask that whatever hardships we encounter be borne in union with the Lord, lessening our pain and bringing us closer to him.


[1] The picture is “St. Paul of the Cross” Artist and Date are not sited.
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL).  This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[3] See NAB footnote on Psalm 117

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