We give Thee thanks, O Jesus! who hast, this day, prostrated Thine enemy by Thy power, and raised him up again by Thy mercy. Truly art thou the Mighty God, and Thy victories shall be praised by all creatures. How wonderful art Thou, in Thy plans for the world’s salvation! Thou makest men thy associates in the work of the preaching of thy word, and in the dispensing of Thy Mysteries; and, in order to make Paul worthy of such an honour, Thou usest all the resources of Thy grace. It pleased Thee to make an Apostle of Stephen’s murderer, that so Thy sovereign power might be shown to the world, Thy love of souls be evinced in its richest gratuitous generosity, and grace abound where sin had so abounded. Sweet Saviour! often visit us with this grace which converts the heart; for we desire to have the life of grace abundantly, and we feel that its very principle is often in danger within us.
Convert us, as thou didst Thine Apostle; and after having converted us, assist us; for, without Thee, we can do nothing. Go before us, follow us, stand by our side; never leave us, but as Thou hast given us the commencement, secure to us our perseverance to the end. Give us that Christian wisdom, which will teach us how to acknowledge, with fear and love, that mysterious gift of grace, which no creature can merit, and to which, nevertheless, a creature’s will may put an obstacle. We are captives: thou alone art master of the instrument, wherewith we can break our chains; thou puttest it into our hands, bidding us make use of it; so that our deliverance is thy work, not ours–but our captivity, if it continue, can only be attributed to our negligence and sloth. Give us, O Lord, this Thy grace; and graciously receive the promise we now make, that we will render it fruitful by co-operating with it.
Assist us, thou holy Apostle of Jesus! to correspond with the merciful designs of God in our regard; obtain of Him, for us, that we may be overcome by the sweetness of an Infant-God. His voice does not make itself heard; He does not blind us by the glare of His divine light; but this we know–He often complains that we persecute him! Oh! that we could have the courage to say to Him, with a heart honest like thine: Lord! what wilt thou that we do? He would answer, and tell us, to be simple, and to become little children, like Himself–to recognise now, after so many Christmases of indifference, the love He shows us in this mystery of Bethlehem–to declare war against sin–to resist our evil inclinations–and to advance in virtue, by walking in His divine footsteps. Thou hast said, in one of thine Epistles: If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema (I. Cor. xvi. 22)! Oh! teach us to know this dear Jesus more and more, that so we may grow in his love; and, by thy prayers, preserve us from that ingratitude which turns even the sweet Mysteries of this holy season into our own greater condemnation.
Glorious Vessel of election! pray for the conversion of sinners, who have forgotten their God. When on this earth, thou didst spend thyself for the salvation of souls; continue thy ministry, now that thou art reigning in heaven, and draw down, upon them that persecute Jesus, the graces which triumph over the hardest hearts. Apostle of the Gentiles! look with an eye of loving pity on so many nations, that are still sitting in the shadow of death. During thy mortal life, thou wast divided between two ardent desires–one, to be with Christ, the other, to remain longer on earth labouring for the salvation of immortal souls: now, that thou art united for ever with the Jesus thou didst preach to men, forget not the poor ones to whom their God is a stranger. Raise up in the Church apostolic men, who may continue thy work. Pray to our Lord that He bless their labours, and the blood of such among them as are Martyrs of zeal. Shield, with thy protection, the See of Peter, thy Brother-Apostle and thy Leader.
Support the authority of the Church of Rome, which has inherited thy power, and looks upon thee as her second defence. May thy powerful intercession lead her enemies into humble submission, destroy schisms and heresies, and fill her Pastors with thy spirit, that, like thee, they may seek, not themselves, but solely and in all things the interests of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
For more prayers to St Paul click here.