25 January 2012

25 January - Conversion of Saint Paul; Robert Burns

Weather:  On St. Paul’s day, half of winter is past, and half is yet to come.

If Saint Paul's Day be fair and clear, it doth betide a happy year;
But if it chance to snow or rain, then will be dear all kinds of grain;
If clouds or mists do dark the sky, great store of birds and beasts shall die;
And if the winds do fly aloft, then wars shall vex the kingdom oft.

If the sun shines on Paul’s day, it betokens a good year;
If rain or snow, indifferent;
If misty, great dearth
If thunder, heavy winds and large numbers of people will die.

If Paul’s day be fair, it will be a pleasant year;
If it be windy, there will be wars;
If it be cloudy, there will be a plague that year.

If the day is fair and clear, it betokens plenty in the year
If cloudy or misty, much cattle will die;
If rain or snow falls, it presages a dearth;
If windy, there will be wars.

Saint Paul’s day clear
Brings a good year.

If Paul’s day is clear and the sun shines, there will be a great abundance of grain and wine.

Tradition says that the winds battle for supremacy tonight, and the wind which proves victorious at midnight will be the prevailing wind for the year.

Let's hope it is sunny and clear.

“The conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, which happened the second year after the Ascension of our Lord.  At Damascus, the birthday of St. Ananias, who baptized that apostle.  After he had preached the Gospel at Damascus, Eleutheropolis, and elsewhere, he was scourged under the judge Licinius, had his flesh torn, and lastly being over whelmed with stones, ended his martyrdom.”

Today is the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles - 'a perfect model of a true conversion' - as he met Our Lord on the road to Damascus.

“St. Paul, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, originally called Saul… though a Jew and a Pharisee, he was by birth a Roman citizen. He was present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen, A. D. 34, and was then a young man.  He was highly educated in the learning of the times, when tot Jerusalem to study the laws, and being a man of great talent, ardent mind, and inflexible resolution, and devotedly attached to the institutions of his country, he viewed with alarm the new religion.  Accordingly, he took an active part against the Christians and pursued them, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter.”  While on his journey to Damascus, authorized to bring to Jerusalem whomsoever of the disciples he might find there, his miraculous conversion took places…

His conversion, which involved the loss of all his brilliant prospects, has, next to the miracles and resurrection of Our Lord, been justly contemplated as one of the most striking and memorable events connected with Christianity…” John Timbs, 1866.

As a convert who saw all of the things that she thought she believed in turned upside down, and the modernist philosophies which she had embraced exposed in a blinding light for the culture of death that it is, I have a strong affection for Saint Paul.

O glorious Saint Paul, who from a persecutor of Christianity, did become a most ardent apostle of zeal,
and who to make known the Savior Jesus Christ to the ends of the world,
Did suffer with joy imprisonment, scourging, stonings, shipwrecks and persecutions of every kind,
And in the end did shed your blood for His sake,
Obtain for us the grace to receive, as favors of the Divine Mercy,
Infirmities, tribulations, and misfortunes of the present life,
So that the vicissitudes of this our exile will not render us cold in the service of God,
But will render us always more faithful and fervent.

On this day is also commemorated the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet, in 1759.

"O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!"

It is called a 'second national day', but seems to be more celebrated that the first national day, Saint Andrew.  (Well, Saint Andrew does belong to other countries, like Russia and Greece, but Rabbie Burns belongs to Scots alone.)

Scotland.org has a listing of the different celebrations connected with Burn's Night, and an interactive video to meet Robert Burns and learn more about his life and times (it is good just to listen to that man talk).

See the Burns Night web-site for menus for a Burns Supper (and the protocol - including piping in the haggis - that goes with it).

A good day to celebrate with your Scots friends.  Even with your 1/32 Scots friends.  Even with friends who haven't a drop of Scottish blood in them, but love to listen to the pipes and drums.  Oh, heck, just break out the Scotch and celebrate!

Artwork: Caravaggio, 1601. Conversion on the Way to Damascus. Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome.