Third Sunday after Epiphany – The Conversion of St. Paul – Propers and Reflections

Death of the Sinner - Remorse of a Damned Christian

Death of the Sinner – Remorse of a Damned Christian

“But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 8:12

In the Gospel of this day it is related that, “when Jesus Christ entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion beseeching him” to cure his servant, who lay sick of the palsy. Jesus answered: “I will come and heal him.” No,” replied the centurion,” I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.” Seeing the centurion’s faith, the Redeemer instantly consoled him by restoring health to his servant; and, turning to his disciples, he said: “Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

By these words our Lord wished to signify, that many persons born in infidelity shall be saved, and enjoy the society of the saints, and that many who are born in the bosom of the Church shall be cast into Hell, where the worm of conscience, by its gnawing, shall make them weep bitterly for all eternity.

St. Paul - Apostle and Martyr

St. Paul – Apostle and Martyr

The great apostle Paul, named Saul at his circumcision, was born at Tarsus, the capital of Silica, and was by privilege a Roman citizen, to which quality a great distinction and several exemptions were granted by the laws of the empire. He was early instructed in the strict observance of the Mosaic law, and lived up to it in the most scrupulous manner. In his zeal for the Jewish law, which he thought the cause of God, he became a violent persecutor of the Christians. He was one of those who combined to murder St. Stephen, and in the violent persecution of the faithful which followed the martyrdom of the holy deacon, Saul signalized himself above others. By virtue of the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses, loaded them with chains, and thrust them into prison. In the fury of his zeal he applied for a commission to take up all Jews at Damascus who confessed Jesus Christ, and bring them bound to Jerusalem, that they might serve as examples for the others. But God was pleased to show forth in him His patience and mercy. While on his way to Damascus, he and his party were surrounded by a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, and suddenly struck to the ground. And then a voice was heard saying, “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute Me?” And Saul answered, “Who art Thou, Lord?” and the voice replied, “I am Jesus, Whom thou dost persecute.” This mild expostulation of Our Redeemer, accompanied with a powerful interior grace, cured Saul’s pride, assuaged his rage, and wrought at once a total change in him. Wherefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Our Lord ordered him to arise and to proceed on his way to the city, where he should be informed of what was expected from him. Saul, arising from the ground, found that, though his eyes were open, he saw nothing. He was led by hand into Damascus, where he was lodged in the house of a Jew named Judas. To this house came by divine appointment a holy man named Ananias, who, laying his hands on Saul, said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to thee on thy journey, hath sent me that thou mayest receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he recovered his sight. Then he arose and was baptized; he stayed some few days with the disciples at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen as one of God’s principal instruments in the conversion of the world.


Listen to the words of the “Imitation of Christ,” and let them sink into your heart:

“He who would keep the grace of God, let him be grateful for grace when it is given, and patient when it is taken away. Let him pray that it may be given back to him, and be careful and humble, lest he lose it.”

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler – Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]

Of all the Christians that have ever lived, there is, perhaps, not one whose life is invested with a greater interest than that of St. Paul the Apostle. A Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, of the strictest sect of the Pharisees, highly educated, and brought up under the eye of the chief doctor and teacher of that time, a man of position among the Jews, he must necessarily have been one of the most conspicuous of the early converts to Christianity; even had his conversion not been miraculous. But to us Gentile Christians, St. Paul, the Hebrew of the Hebrews, stands in a very special relation; for he, as the Apostle of the Gentiles, reminds us that we have a claim to the promises which God made to Abraham —promises which the parenthetical dispensation of the Law could in no way disannul. It is in his writings especially that we read of the liberty of Christians, and of the necessity, power, and abundance of the grace of God.


And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer said: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word and my servant shall be healed.

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY / Conversion of St. Paul with a Commemoration of St. Peter

 Semi-double / Green Vestments

Missa – ‘Adorate deum’

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth Sunday’s after Epiphany have the same Introit, Gradual, Offertory and Communion which testify to our Lord’s divinity, to the fact that He worked miracles, and to the worship that we owe him. In fact throughout this time after Epiphany, the church does not cease to manifest our Lord’s divinity and therefore his Kingship over men.

INTROIT – Psalm 96: 7-8 

Adorate deum, omnes Angeli ejus: audívit, et lætáta est Sion: et exsultavérunt fíliæ Judæ. 

Psalm 96: 1. Dóminus regnávit, exsúltet terra: læténtur ínsulæ multæ. Glória Patri.

Adore God, all you His Angels...

Adore God, all you His Angels…

Adore God, all you His Angels: Sion heard, and was glad: and the daughters of Juda rejoiced. Ps. The Lord hath reigned, let the earth rejoice: let many islands be glad. Glory be to the Father.


Almighty and eternal God, mercifully look upon our infirmity, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty to help and defend us. Through our Lord.

2nd Collect – Commemoration of Conversion of St. Paul

O God, who hast taught the whole world by the preaching of blessed Paul the Apostle: grant, we beseech Thee, that we who this day celebrate his conversion, may, through his example, draw nearer unto Thee. Through our Lord.

St. Peter

St. Peter

3rd Collect – Commemoration of St Peter

O God, who by delivering to Thy blessed Apostle Peter the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, didst confer upon him the pontifical power of binding and of loosing, grant that, by the help of his intercession, we may be delivered from the bonds of our sins: Who livest and reignest.

EPISTLE – Romans 12: 16-21

The Lesson is taken from the Epistle of the Blessed Apostle Paul to the Romans

Brethren: Be not wise in your own conceits. To no man rendering evil for evil: providing good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved, but give place unto wrath. For it is written: Revenge is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink: for doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.

GRADUAL – Psalm 101: 16-17

The Gentiles shall fear Thy name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth Thy glory.

V. For the Lord hath built up Sion: and He shall be seen in His glory.

Alleluia, alleluia.

V. The Lord hath reigned, let the earth rejoice: let many islands be glad. Alleluia. 

A leper came and adored Him saying: Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, stretching forth His hand touched him, saying: I will.

A leper came and adored Him saying: Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, stretching forth His hand touched him, saying: I will.

GOSPEL – Matthew 8. 1-13

The Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

At that time, when Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him: and behold a leper came and adored Him saying: Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, stretching forth His hand touched him, saying: I will. Be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him: See, thou tell no man: but go, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. And when He had entered into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying: Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer said: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this: Go, and he goeth; and to another: Come, and he cometh; and to my servant: Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this marveled, and said to them that followed Him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Isræl. And I say to you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.

Only say the word and my servant shall be healed...

Only say the word and my servant shall be healed…


Impurity – St Alphonsus

OFFERTORY – Psalm 117: 16, 17

The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength: the right hand of the Lord hath exalted me: I shall not die, but live, and shall declare the works of the Lord. 


May this offering, O Lord, we pray Thee, cleanse away our sins, and sanctify the bodies and minds of Thy servants for the celebration of this sacrifice. Through our Lord. 

Conversion of st paul -Caravaggio

Conversion of St Paul – Caravaggio

2nd Secret – Commemoration of Conversion of St. Paul

Sanctify, O Lord, by the prayers of Thine Apostle Paul, the gifts of Thy people: that, the things which, as of Thine ordaining are already pleasing unto Thee, may be made the more pleasing by his interceding patronage. Through our Lord.

3rd Secret – Commemoration of St Peter

May the prayer of the blessed Apostle Peter, we beseech Thee, O Lord, commend unto Thee the petitions and offerings of Thy Church: that, what we celebrate in his honor, may avail for our forgiveness. Through our Lord.

Most Holy Trinity

Most Holy Trinity


It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, are one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in con- fessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out with one voice saying:


Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis.  Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis.

Ecce agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccatum mundi. Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.

Ecce agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccatum mundi.
Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.

COMMUNION – Luke 4: 22

All wondered at these things which proceeded from the mouth of God.


Vouchsafe, we pray Thee, O Lord, that we who of Thy bounty frequent these great mysteries, may be made worthy to enjoy their fruits. Through our Lord.

Conversion of St. Paul

2nd Postcommunion – Commemoration of Conversion of St. Paul

Who are sanctified by this saving Mystery, beseech Thee, O Lord: that he under whose patronage Thou dost vouch- safe to place us, may not fail to pray for us. Through our Lord.

3rd Postcommunion – Commemoration of St Peter

May the gift which we have offered, fill us with joy, O Lord: that as we proclaim Thee wonderful in Thine Apostle Peter, so we may through him receive the grace of Thy forgiveness. Through our Lord.

st paul 3


We have already seen how the Gentiles, in the person of the Three Magi, offered their mystic gifts to the Divine Child of Bethlehem, and received from him in return the precious gifts of faith, hope and charity. The harvest is ripe; it is time for the reaper to come. But who is to be God’s laborer? The Apostles of Christ are still living under the very shadow of Mount Sion. All of them have received the mission to preach the gospel of salvation to the uttermost parts of the world; but not one among them has as yet received the special character of Apostle of the Gentiles. Peter, who had received the Apostleship of Circumcision, is sent specially, as was Christ himself, to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel. And yet, as he is the Head and the Foundation, it belongs to him to open the door of Faith to the Gentiles; which he solemnly does by conferring Baptism on Cornelius, the Roman Centurion. But the Church is to have one more Apostle, an Apostle for the Gentiles; and he is to be the fruit of the martyrdom and prayer of St Stephen. Saul, a citizen of Tarsus, has not seen Christ in the flesh, and yet Christ alone can make an Apostle. It is then from heaven, where he reigns impassible and glorified, that Jesus will call Saul to be his disciple, just as, during the period of his active life, he called the fishermen of Genesareth to follow him and hearken to his teachings. The Son of God will raise Saul up to the third heaven, and there will reveal to him all his mysteries: and when Saul, having come down again to this earth, shall have seen Peter,  and compared his Gospel with that recognized by Peter,· he can say, in all truth, that he is an Apostle of Christ Jesus, and that he has done nothing less than like great Apostles. It is on this glorious day of the Conversion of Saul, who is soon to change his name into Paul, that this great work is commenced. It is on this day that there is heard the Almighty voice which breaketh the cedars of Libanus, and can make a persecuting Jew become first a Christian and then an Apostle.

St Paul delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515

St Paul delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515

This admirable transformation had been prophesied by Jacob, when upon his deathbed he unfolded to each of his sons the future of the tribe of which he was to be the father. Juda was to have the precedence of honor; from his royal race was to be born the Redeemer, the Expected of nations. Benjamin’s turn came; his glory is not to be compared with that of his brother ]uda, and yet it was to be very great-for from his tribe is to be born Paul, the Apostle of the Gentile nations. These are the words of the dying Prophet: Benjamin. a ravenous wolf, in the morning shall eat the prey, and in the evening shall divide the spoil.· Who, says an ancient writer, is he that in the morning of impetuous youth goes like a wolf in pursuit of the sheep of Christ, breathing threatenings and slaughter against them? Is it not Saul on the road to Damascus, the bearer and doer of the high-priest’s orders, and stained with the blood of Stephen, whom he has stoned by the hands of all those over whose garments he kept watch? And he who in the evening, not only does not despoil, but with a charitable and peaceful hand breaks to the hungry the bread of life-is it not Paul, of the tribe of Benjamin, the Apostle of Christ, burning with zeal for his brethren, making himself all to all, and wishing even to be an anathema for their sakes? Oh! the power of our dear Jesus! How wonderful how irresistible! He wishes that the first worshipers at his Crib should be humble Shepherds-and he invites them by his Angels, whose sweet hymn was enough to lead these simple-hearted men to the Stable, where, in swaddling-clothes, he lies who is the hope of Israel. He would have the Gentile Princes, the Magi, do him homage-and bids a star to arise in the heavens, whose mysterious apparition, joined to the interior speaking of the Holy Ghost, induces these men of desire to come from the far East, and lay at the feet of an humble Babe their riches and their hearts. When the time is come for forming the Apostolic College, he approaches the banks of the sea of Tiberias, and with this single word: Follow me, he draws after him such as he wishes to have as his Disciples. In the midst of all the humiliations of his Passion, he has but to look-at the unfaithful Peter, and Peter is a penitent. Today, it is from heaven that he evinces his power: all the mysteries of our redemption have been accomplished, and he wishes to show mankind that he is the sole author and master of the Apostolate, and that his alliance with the Gentiles is now perfect: he speaks; the sound of his reproach bursts like thunder over the head of this hot Pharisee, who is bent on annihilating the Church; he takes this heart of the Jew, and, by his grace, turns it into the heart of the Apostle, the Vessel of election, the Paul who is afterwards to say of himself: I live, not I, but Christ liveth in me. The commemoration of this great event was to be a Feast in the Church, and it had a right to be kept as near as might be to the one which celebrates the martyrdom of St Stephen, for Paul is the Protomartyr’s convert.

by: Dom Gueranger – The Liturgical Year

st paul statue


O, God, who by a voice from heaven didst strike with terror thine Apostle Paul when raging against the holiness of the Christian religion and on this the day of his Vocation didst change him both in his heart and his name: so that the Church having once dreaded him as her persecutor, now rejoices in having him as her Teacher in the commandments of God: whom thou didst strike with exterior blindness, that thou mightest give him interior sight: to whom  moreover, when the darkness of his cruelty was removed, thou didst give the knowledge of thy divine law whereby he might call the Gentiles: and didst thrice deliver him from shipwreck, which he suffered for the Faith, saving this thy devoted servant from the waves of the sea: grant also to us. We beseech thee, who are solemnizing both his conversion and his faith, that after the blindness of our sins, we may be permitted to see thee in heaven, who didst enlighten Paul here on earth.

Very Rev. Fr. Dom Prosper Guéranger O.S.B. – The Liturgical Year


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