Pauline Spirit

Eight years and counting
January 3, 2017, 5:02 pm
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Thank you for your visit.

It took a spam comment on this blog to remind me yesterday that this project for the Year of St Paul has really completed its purpose. I thought I might occasionally update it with new reviews on books about Paul (Michael Gorman wrote another one–a bit above my pag grade, to tell the truth).

Alas, I have more good will in this area than hours in a day. Also more commitments.

So I will keep this blog online as a resource, but for more articles on St Paul see the blog I helped create for our Sisters in the UK (see what I mean about commitments?). There’s a lot of great stuff in the archives there, so do take a look.


God bless you!

Sister Anne Flanagan, fsp (@nunblogger, Daughters of St Paul)


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Gorman’s latest
June 10, 2009, 9:23 pm
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I’m loving it.

In “Inhabiting God,” right from Chapter 1 you start to get a better sense of how deep and widespread the effects of sin are (sin always going the full extent of sinfulness, as Paul noted in Romans). I don’t just mean sin as “wrong deeds” or sin on the level of behavior (and neither did Paul, of course), but sin penetrating all the way down to our human categories and presuppositions, our “givens” (even about God!). Gorman’s whole point in this book is that God, as God, is “weak” by human calculations. God is a loser. God’s idea of strength, God’s way of being God, is in the weakness of service, of “not considering equality with God a thing to be clung to,” of “taking the form of a slave” and “being all things to all people.” That means that prerogatives that we associate with dignity, importance, status–these are the opposite of divine qualities even when we attribute them to God, even when we mean to honor God through these attributions. It is Jesus Christ “and him crucified” who reveals the whole truth about God.

What does this reveal about what we are asking when we say “Thy Kingdom come”?

Just started Chapter 2 and the book is already bristling with those little Post-It tabbies.

New title by Gorman
June 6, 2009, 12:30 am
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I was happy to make this discovery, just weeks before the Pauline Year is formally concluded:

Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology

Gorman’s “Apostle of the Crucified Lord” and “Cruciformity” are excellent, insightful and well-rounded, so when I spotted this new arrival, I snatched it right up. Haven’t read it yet, but I’m confident I’ll be inspired.

Pope’s talks available in book form
May 8, 2009, 9:29 pm
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paul-igIgnatius Press and Our Sunday Visitor have both released the Holy Father’s General Audience talks on St Paul in book format. Will you go with el Greco (OSV) or Caravaggio (Ignatius)?


Hymns in Honor of St. Paul
March 25, 2009, 10:17 pm
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J. Michael Thompson has prepared lyrics several hymns in honor of St. Paul, using commonly known melodies. He can offer a Hymn for the Year of St. Paul, as well as hymns for the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, for the Votive Mass of St. Paul and a hymn in honor of the imprisoned St. Paul. Contact chantermt{at}yahoo{dot}com for information on licensing these hymns for your parish or organization.

The book that launched a thousand talks…
February 19, 2009, 11:32 pm
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I really regret not having posted this sooner: Sister Armanda’s wonderful book came out on time for the Conversion of St. Paul, and I am only now putting it on this resource page. And this was the manuscript that inspired me to do my own research and presenting on the life and legends of Paul in art! Here’s the book–and the story behind it.

For years she ran the presses, printing books by the thousands. Her practiced eye scrutinized the sheets as they glided from the rollers of offset presses the size of tractor-trailers. She had to check that the print was clear and the colors sharp and true–especially important when reproducing masterpiece art. Now Sister Armanda Santos, FSP, of Redwood City, has a new book to show for her labors, but this time, she is the author.

“Facing the Apostle: Paul’s Image in Art”–a meditative look at the life of Paul through the lens of Christian art–was released, appropriately enough, during the Jubilee Year of the Apostle’s birth. Sr. Armanda says that her intention was “to allow Paul’s iconography to reveal something of his personality and inner life.” One appreciative reviewer, Rodolfo Papa (Professor of the History of Aesthetic Theory, Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome) commented “….This book shows in a fascinating way the real and everlasting connection between art and spirituality.”

Sister Armanda’s admiration of St. Paul began long before the Pauline Jubilee was announced. It could be said that Sister really “met” Paul during her initial formation in the religious congregation of the Daughters of St. Paul, which she entered in 1971.  “My favorite aspect of St. Paul is his humanness. I like to emphasize that aspect to people who feel intimidated by him.” But while Paul established communities, the Daughters of St. Paul established publishing houses and book centers “to help the individual person encounter Christ,” Santos explains. Sister Armanda worked the publishing house presses even as a postulant and novice, and was eventually made head of the pressroom at Pauline Books and Media, Boston, before being tapped for roles as a superior and Provincial Councilor. The ministry she kept coming back to, however, was in the Pauline book centers. “I love book center ministry. I find that it is a wonderful way to reach people in a very personal manner,” Santos says. “Being in the marketplace creates a non-threatening environment for people to come in and encounter Christ in his Word by what they read, in the music, in the chapel and even in our presence.”

Through the years, she collected images of the community’s patron saint. “The iconography of Paul is huge,” she commented, “hundreds of depictions from every era and every type of medium: icons, oil, polychrome…”

After several terms in leadership, including service on a province-wide level (the network of Pauline communities across the U.S. and English-speaking Canada), Sister Santos welcomed the opportunity to pursue a Master’s Degree in Theology. While stationed in Culver City, CA, she began a program at Loyola-Marymount, but transferred to the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, where she would be near enough to help care for her mother in San Leandro. (The Santos family came to the Bay area from the Azores when Sister Armanda was eleven years old.)  A stimulating course on St. Paul, and Sister’s long-standing interest in the language and symbols of Christian art naturally inspired the direction her graduate studies took. She found  her favorite images of Paul and began to craft a thesis around them. “I built chapters around the pictures I really  liked,” Santos admits. “Then I had to choose others in order to tell the whole life of Paul from beginning to end.”

The life of Paul, beginning with his oft-depicted conversion, provides the framework for the entire book. Opening with a relevant Scripture passage, each of the 13 chapters is built around a single work of art, with an overall description of the piece and of the artist (when known), the circumstances of its creation and an interesting analysis of its unique details. From this, Santos offers a deep and informative reflection on one aspect of the life and teachings of the Apostle, allowing the artwork to once more illustrate Paul’s thought and spirituality. A concluding prayer, composed by the author’s sister, Sister Germana Santos, FSP, allows the reader to enter into Paul’s own spirit of prayer, and makes the book even more useful for group use. (An appendix also provides discussion questions.)

“Facing the Apostle” could be used as a guide in a study of Christian art (from the masterpieces of Raphael and Rembrandt to the work of anonymous iconographers) or for a course on the life and letters of Paul. The entire book is printed on high-quality paper that brings out the best in images. Its fine reproductions make “Facing the Apostle” an ideal gift book for RCIA or ordination.
Sister Santos is currently stationed in Redwood City, CA. Her community’s Pauline Bookstore hosts her ongoing presentations on the language of Christian symbols.

Paperback / 144 pages / Dimensions: 6″ x 9″ / ISBN: 0819826839
Retail Price: $16.95
Pauline Books & Media, Boston

Upcoming talks
December 27, 2008, 10:48 pm
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If you are a member of the Catholic social network (and quite possibly even if you are not), you can access a list of my scheduled talks on St. Paul. (There’s still a possibility of scheduling a Pauline Year talk for your parish or organization!)