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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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Gregory VII: The 10th century and the first half of the 11th were dark days for the Church, partly because the papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049, things began to change when Pope Leo IX, a reformer, was elected. He brought a young monk named Hildebrand to Rome as his counselor and special representative on important missions. He was to become Gregory VII. 
<p>Three evils plagued the Church then: simony (the buying and selling of sacred offices and things), the unlawful marriage of the clergy and lay investiture (kings and nobles controlling the appointment of Church officials). To all of these Hildebrand directed his reformer’s attention, first as counselor to the popes and later (1073-1085) as pope himself. </p><p>Gregory’s papal letters stress the role of bishop of Rome as the vicar of Christ and the visible center of unity in the Church. He is well known for his long dispute with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over who should control the selection of bishops and abbots. </p><p>Gregory fiercely resisted any attack on the liberty of the Church. For this he suffered and finally died in exile. He said, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.” Thirty years later the Church finally won its struggle against lay investiture.</p> American Catholic Blog In Christ, true God and true man, our humanity was taken to God. Christ opened the path to us. If we entrust our life to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are certain to be in safe hands, in the hands of our Savior.

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