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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.)


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

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Columban: Columban was the greatest of the Irish missionaries who worked on the European continent. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh, he sought the advice of a religious woman who had lived a hermit’s life for years. He saw in her answer a call to leave the world. He went first to a monk on an island in Lough Erne, then to the great monastic seat of learning at Bangor. 
<p>After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul (modern-day France) with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for the rigor of their discipline, their preaching, and their commitment to charity and religious life in a time characterized by clerical laxity and civil strife. Columban established several monasteries in Europe which became centers of religion and culture. </p><p>Like all saints, he met opposition. Ultimately he had to appeal to the pope against complaints of Frankish bishops, for vindication of his orthodoxy and approval of Irish customs. He reproved the king for his licentious life, insisting that he marry. Since this threatened the power of the queen mother, Columban was deported to Ireland. His ship ran aground in a storm, and he continued his work in Europe, ultimately arriving in Italy, where he found favor with the king of the Lombards. In his last years he established the famous monastery of Bobbio, where he died. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry and his monastic rule.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus was never a careerist or a glory-monger; he did not demand to be hailed as a king or lauded as a hero. He came to live among us, to suffer with us, and to serve us from the heart. He came to teach us how to love.

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