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'Sincerely Yours, Paul' View Comments
By Theresa Doyle-Nelson

NINE OF THE LETTERS attributed to St. Paul were sent to large groups of people: the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. They are filled with advice, instruction, and spiritual insights for these communities. The remaining four letters, however, were addressed to specific people: Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

Written later in Paul’s life, they are shorter and a bit more private. Though these letters were perhaps intended to be read by only a few people, they are now quite public because they were copied and shared with other followers of Jesus. For almost 20 centuries, Christians have recognized them as inspired, as words that feed us as much now as they did these firstcentury Christians. The feast of Sts. Timothy and Titus (January 26) uses these letters.

Once a Christian-hater who became a phenomenal Christian leader, Paul, through his letters, guided and strengthened an unfolding Church, helping believers keep their new faith growing, alive, and true. Did Paul realize that these letters would be read for centuries by Christians all over the world? Almost 2,000 years later, they are still full of rich help to countless Christians who strive to nurture their faith. (Unless otherwise noted, all translations are from the New American Bible.)

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Theresa Doyle-Nelson is a former elementary teacher with a master’s degree in educational administration. Married for 27 years, she and her husband have three adult sons. She can be contacted through TheresaDoyle-Nelson.com.

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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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