Friday, May 22, 2015

Come Holy Spirit: Paul

St. Paul Preaching in Corinth
Paul traveled through the interior of the country and down to Ephesus where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered him, “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” He said, “How were you baptized?” They replied, “With the baptism of John.” Paul then said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Altogether there were about twelve men. Acts 19:1-7
Now to be perfectly honest, this is not Paul preaching in Ephesus; it is Paul preaching in Corinth, but there were no pictures of Paul preaching in Ephesus that I could find. There is a picture of Paul working miracles in Ephesus, so surely the Holy Spirit was there, too. 

Miracles of St.Paul at Ephesus, Jean Restout
And here is a picture of Paul preaching.

Painting of Paul from Cave of St. Paul in Ephesus, ca. 450 AD
A bit further on in Acts, Paul tells of another action of the Holy Spirit in his life.
But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace. “But now I know that none of you to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels will ever see my face again." Acts 20:22-25
Once again, the Holy Spirit brings a message that isn't what one would want to hear, but Paul is steadfast. He knows that soon he will suffer, but he has suffered before in the cause of Christ and is willing to do so again. I wonder if never seeing his friends again wasn't one of his greatest sorrows. That last line is so very sad. When I read it Mass I teared up a bit.

Martyrdom of St. Paul, Stefaneschi Altarpiece, Giotto 
I looked quite a while before I found a picture of St. Paul's martyrdom that I liked, and then when I finally found out who the artist was, it turned out to be Giotto. 

Paul's severed head lies looking heavenward. It's interesting to see that a severed head retains its halo. The angels mourn his death . . .

but who is that woman on the hill, and what is that white thing that she is casting into the air to be carried away in the wind?

The Web Gallery of Art says that this is "a maiden" and that the cloth is one that has soaked up the blood of Paul. It flies up to heaven where it is a awaited by an eager recipient.

Is this the Father? I don't know. He looks like he should be the Father, but he has wings. Maybe it's an angel appointed to take the cloth to the Father. He is in a mandala that is being carried by the angels.
Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen Prayer from Day 8 of  Novena to the Holy Spirit.

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