"He was not a flat character," said Father Patrick Mullen of St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, Calif. "St.
Paul's letters have a strong founding in Scripture, and like Saint Peter, Paul failed and picked himself up again."
was the keynote speaker at the 46th annual Diocesan Pastoral Congress held Oct. 18, the Feast of St. Luke, at Juan Diego Catholic High School at the Skaggs Catholic Center
More than 550 people attended.
A New Testament Scripture scholar, Fr. Mullen
told the religious educators to, "shape what we give our students and teach what they want to learn.
Start with their questions."
said St. Paul started his
teaching with the people, and although he
never knew Jesus personally, he
was nevertheless an apostle, sent forth by Jesus to teach.
"Paul may have been writing to the church in Corinth or the church is Ephasus, but he
was writing to us, and we should be on fire with his
teaching," Fr. Mullen
Paul the poet wrote things that were beautiful, like Phil.
2:6-11, and the Ode of Love in 1 Cor. 13:1-13, he
"We need to be poets, borrowing from others.
We need to teach the beautiful and the dramatic."
encouraged religious educators to become Scripture scholars, reading their Bibles daily, writing in them, and quoting from them.
"St. Paul quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures 90 times," he
said, and he
had to be quoting from memory because paper was very expensive at that time.
"Read the Scriptures and teach others to do the same."
said in St. Paul's time, only from two percent to five percent of the people were literate, so Paul and the other apostles had to be good story-tellers, passing their teachings on through the oral tradition.
"The Catholic Church went 1,500 years without the Book," said Fr. Mullen
"Our teachers had to make the passing on of stories happen at the level of the heart."
St. Paul was also a theologian, he
said, one who had studies the faith.
"Today we have 2000 years of theology with which to work as religious educators, and the next great theologian might come from this room.
Jesus has empowered each of you to read and teach as Paul did."
One of the great questions today is why some people wander from the faith while others live an intentionally Catholic life, said Fr. Mullen
"Paul was also a liturgist.
would be the first person to recount the actions at the Last Supper, and liturgy should matter to us."
Children must be raised with a love of the Eucharist, and that happens in Catholic homes where parents are the first religious educators, said Fr. Mullen
"St. Paul was also the all competent," he
had to be either a mother or a pastor, doing all things, experiencing all things, then teaching all things."
Paul was also a "scrapper," who argued with St. Peter, and while he
is often seen as "the bane of women," almost everything he
wrote about women has been taken out of context.
The great evangelizer also had a "swaggering ego," and "poured himself out," in his
letters to the churches he
founded, said Fr. Mullen
Little is known of Paul before his
conversion, but Fr. Mullen
had changed his
name from Saul to Paul before his
was from the tribe of Benjamin.
As for the controversy about who wrote Paul's letters, Fr. Mullen
said it is obvious that Paul himself wrote seven of the letters, and others may have been written by scribes while Paul dictated them.
Others were written by people claiming to be Paul, but their writing and teaching is very much in the style of St. Paul.
"There is so much to learn about St. Paul that it's easy to become overwhelmed by him," said Fr. Mullen
"As Fr. Mullen
said, we should borrow some to share the story and then pass on the faith," said Bishop Wester.