January 25 is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Since this is a special Year of St. Paul, there is special permission to have the option to celebrate this feast on this Sunday. Normally it would be the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. From the readings for the Mass of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle.
Acts 9:1-22: Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him
for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that,
if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
He said, "Who are you, sir?"
The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."...
Although the story from the Acts of the Apostles doesn't mention St. Paul falling to the ground off his horse, it seems that is how the scene is always artistically rendered (see Caravaggio's painting above). After all, falling to the ground from a standing position hurts, but it isn't as dramatic as a fall from a horse!
Some ideas for honoring St. Paul on his conversion (also for June 29, Saints Peter and Paul):
- Incorporating a horse in the celebration seems most obvious to me. This previous post for Horseshoe Cookies for the feast of St. Martin has loads of ideas for other horse themed foods. There is also Podovy: St. Stephen's Horns which is a filled bread in the shape of horseshoes. How about the Giddy-Up Horse Cake from Kraft Foods.
- Roast beef and horseradish, one of my favorite combinations would make a nice main course. And how about Garlic Horseradish Mashed Potatoes?
- Don't forget what we feed the horse! Perhaps a plate of crudités: perhaps just celery and carrot sticks with dip.
- St. Paul followed the Jewish laws strictly, which would mean dietary laws, too. This could be an opportunity to serve a Biblical Jewish meal.
- While thinking of a personal conversion, the image of a Black and White, those famous New York cookies came to mind.
- Perhaps bring in the symbols of St. Paul: a book or scroll (for his letters), a sword (for his martyrdom). Book Cakes are also appropriate for Doctors and Fathers of the Church (for their writings), and Genoise Book Cake is a delicious sponge cake recipe. One could also use cake pans in the shape of a book. The white chocolate cake used for St. Gregory the Great can also be used for other book cake inspiration.
- I'm keeping the food celebration simple here. I'm making chocolate cupcakes and using two symbols of St. Paul as decorations: sword and scroll. And our centerpiece will include a Playmobil horse and St. Paul (Saul) lying on the ground.
Glorious St. Paul, from being a persecutor of the Christian name you became its most zealous Apostle. To make Jesus, our Divine Savior, known to the uttermost parts of the earth you suffered prison, scourgings, stonings, and shipwreck, and all manner of persecutions and shed the last drop of your blood.
Obtain for us the grace to accept the infirmities, sufferings, and misfortunes of this life as favors of divine mercy. So that we may never grow weary of the trials of our exile, but rather show ourselves ever more faithful and fervent. Amen.
St. Paul the Apostle, pray for us!