Q&A June AD
Our Lady of the Rosary
Was Saint Paul a Priest?
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?
Praying the Psalms?
Question: In 1
Corinthians i: 7, Saint Paul wrote “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but
to preach the gospel.” Was Saint Paul a priest? (Sr. C.M.P.)
and the administration of the Sacraments are both functions of those in Holy
Orders, deacons and above. Most likely, Saint Paul was emphasizing his role
as an evangelist, for he carried out that role with most exemplary
devotion. There is no implication that he never baptized, and no
possibility that he was incapable of baptizing.
That Paul was an Apostle is clear from his writings: “Am not I an apostle?
Have not I seen Christ Jesus our Lord?”
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle....”
“Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God
For the most part, the Apostles were those close followers of Jesus who were
with Him at the Last Supper and were given the power of celebrating Mass.
This would even seem to include Judas, for Saint John’s Gospel places Judas’
leaving sometime after the Supper.
It is assumed that Matthias, who was with Jesus “beginning from the baptism
of John, until the day wherein he was taken up from us,” and who was chosen
by lot, and “was numbered with the eleven apostles” was ordained bishop by
the Apostles, although there is no certain mention of this.
That Saint Paul had “seen Jesus Christ our Lord” qualified him to be an
Apostle, but did not necessarily make him one, nor make him a bishop. We
know that he was baptized only after his experience on the road to Damascus,
and since the Ascension, Baptism must be received before ordination.
We do have a number of passages which imply that Saint Paul was a priest.
In Acts xii we read about the Apostles “imposing their hands upon” Saul
(Paul) and Barnabas:
Acts xiii:  And as they were
ministering to the Lord, and fasting, the Holy Ghost said to them: Separate
me Saul and Barnabas, for the work whereunto I have taken them.  Then
they, fasting and praying, and imposing their hands upon them, sent them
This could have been a special blessing for their mission. It is unlikely
that it was Sacramental Confirmation for in the early Church most people
were Confirmed at Baptism. Possibly it refers to the ordination of Paul and
Barnabas as priests or bishops.
In Acts xix: It is not certain that Paul administered Baptism, but he
clearly did administer Confirmation to the newly baptized. For this he had
to be a bishop:
Acts xix:  Then Paul said:
John baptized the people with the baptism of penance, saying: That they
should believe in him who was to come after him, that is to say, in Jesus.
 Having heard these things, they were baptized in the name of the Lord
Jesus.  And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came
upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Acts xx:7-11 chronicles the celebration of Mass in a city named Troas. In
addition to preaching, Paul seems to be the one “breaking the bread,” the
term first used for the Eucharistic Sacrifice, making Paul the celebrating
priest or bishop:
 And on
the first day of the week, when we were assembled to break bread, Paul
discoursed with them, being to depart on the morrow: and he continued his
speech until midnight.
there were a great number of lamps in the upper chamber where we were
 And a
certain young man named Etychus, sitting on the window, being oppressed with
a deep sleep, (as Paul was long preaching,) by occasion of his sleep fell
from the third loft down, and was taken up dead.
whom, when Paul had gone down, he laid himself upon him, and embracing him,
said: Be not troubled, for his soul is in him.
going up, and breaking bread and tasting, and having talked a long time to
them, until daylight, so he departed.
In 1 Corinthians xi: 23-26, Paul speaks of being the one who introduced them
to the Mass, something he could not have done were he not at least a priest,
and, more likely, a bishop who gave some among the Corinthians the priestly
power to celebrate Mass:
 For I have received of the
Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same
night in which he was betrayed, took bread.  And giving thanks, broke,
and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for
you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice,
after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood:
this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. 
For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall
show the death of the Lord, until he come.
The Roman Martyrology
has Timothy dying as Bishop of Ephesus, and tradition has it that he was
consecrated by Saint Paul shortly before Paul’s martyrdom in Rome. Timothy
had also been held prisoner at Rome, and in the Epistle to the Hebrews we
learn that he had been set free.
Paul wrote to Titus about his having appointed the latter to ordain priests
(making Titus a bishop) for the Churches of Crete:
Titus i  For this cause I
left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are
wanting, and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed
It was a Paul who set
out the qualifications for those who would be consecrated bishops—something
a bit presumptuous if Paul were not himself in bishop’s Orders:
1 Timothy iii:  A faithful
saying: if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 
It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife,
sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher,
 Not given to wine, no striker, but modest, not quarrelsome, not
covetous, but  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in
subjection with all chastity.  But if a man know not how to rule his own
house, how shall he take care of the church of God?  Not a neophyte:
lest being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgment of the devil. 
Moreover he must have a good testimony of them who are without: lest he fall
into reproach and the snare of the devil.  Deacons in like manner chaste,
not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre: 
Holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience.  And let these also
first be proved: and so let them minister, having no crime.
While it may not be possible to prove
unequivocally from Scripture that Saint Paul was a priest, such is clearly
implied in many passages. It is the tradition of the Catholic Church that
he was an Apostle like the others, possessing and exercising the fullness of
the priesthood—a bishop of Holy Church.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?
On first Fridays we have an
hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, during which we say Vespers and
Compline. What are we to do during the time in between? (M.A.H)
For those who may not know, Vespers is the evening prayer of the Church, and
Compline is the bedtime prayer. Together with six other sets of prayer,
they make up the Divine Office. For the most part, the Office consists of
passages from the Old Testament Book of Psalms.
When the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for
adoration it is proper to make all genuflections by kneeling briefly on both
knees. Sometimes this is called a “double genuflection.” The church should
always be a quiet place without individual conversation, but all the more so
in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
We have about fifteen or twenty minutes
between Vespers and Compline in order to allow individual prayers according
to personal taste. This individual prayer might take the form of reading
from the Scriptures, or from some other devotional book. It might draw from
the formal prayers of the Church—the Lords’ Prayer, the Hail Mary, etc.
Five decades of the Rosary fill the time period nicely, and the mysteries
might be chosen with regard to the mysteries already completed that day.
One may pray without formal means, seeking to know and love God through the
human faculties of the soul. Perhaps the highest form of prayer—one that
grows from the lower forms—is called “passive prayer” or “contemplation,” in
which the soul is open to God without actively exercising the intellect or
well. The presence of our Lord in the quiet of the church may be the most
likely circumstance for the soul to experience this contemplation, but it
should be remembered that it is a free gift from God which cannot be forced,
which may happen under other circumstances, and may not happen at all. The
pious soul may sometimes have to be content with one of the more active
forms of prayer.
One of the reasons form maintaining
silence in church at all times is that Catholics are always free to pray
before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, and have the right to do so
undisturbed by unnecessary noise and conversation—and God has the right to
the undisturbed prayers of His faithful.
Praying the Psalms?
I have difficulty reading the Psalms of the Office. Can you make any
You might have a look at some different translations. Most if the modern
Catholic stuff leaves me cold because it seems to casual, but some people
are distracted by the “stained glass English” of the Douay Rheims Bible and
would do better with something more recently translated. My personal
favorite is the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine version, but it is out
of print and not online. Whatever version you chose, it should be both
intelligible and uplifting for you.
It also might help to be familiar with the
other books of the Old Testament from Genesis through the Books of Kings. A
lot of the Psalms presuppose a knowledge of Jewish history, especially of
the Exodus and the conquest of Palestine by people from Joshua through King
David. A few Psalms also refer to the Exile in Babylon. If you have access
to a book on the chief characters of the Old Testament, that book might be
useful whenever an unfamiliar name appears.
The maps of the Holy Land often found as
an appendix to the Bible will help to make sense of the place names
encountered in the Psalms, and to distinguish the tribes of Israel from the
places. Thabor, Hermon, and Sion are place names (mountains, in fact),
while Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manassa are tribes (the last two together
constituting the tribe of Joseph). It is probably best to ignore the
differences in spelling between one Bible version and another.
With a little bit of Holy Land geography
and Jewish history you should be able to figure out that “the river” is the
Jordan and “the sea” is the Mediterranean, and the “vine” or “vineyard” is
the Jewish people.
Be prepared to appreciate the nature imagery which celebrates the greatness
of God in what He has created—Psalm xvii is a prime example.
It is often worthwhile to think about who
is speaking through the Psalm. Sometime it is God addressing Israel,
sometime it is David or someone else addressing God. Making this
distinction helps to make sense out of the text. Some texts are intended
simply to praise God without telling anything of a story. Some Psalms are
prayers of petition. Some are lamentations in distress.
Unless they are under obligation to pray
the Office in its entirety, I tell people to pray carefully, and not to try
to get in as much as humanly possible. Pray fewer Psalms if doing so gives
you the time to pay more close attention to the ones you do pray. The most
distracting form of prayer is the one that sounds like the tobacco
auctioneer zipping through a lot of words without thinking much about any of
A preacher on the TV said that people who drink wine (and stronger drink)
will not be allowed in the Kingdom of Heaven. He said Jesus drank only
grape juice, and not wine. Does he have any basis for this? (J.A.),
You can prove virtually anything with the Bible if you are willing to snip a
tiny enough quote out of context. This is sometimes called “snippet
theology.” The phrase “There is no God” appears at least twice in the
Bible, and if you are willing to ignore the fact that the phrase is
attributed to “The fool” you might claim to validate atheism with the Bible!
The priests of the Old Testament were
forbidden under penalty of death to “drink wine or anything that would make
them drunk when they entered the tabernacle of the testimony,” lest their
sacred office be impaired by a foggy mind or lack of physical coordination.
Those making the Nazarite vow would
abstain not only from wine, but from grapes and raisins—but this only until
the time of their vow expired.
The proverb says: “Wine is a luxurious
thing, and drunkenness riotous: whosoever is delighted therewith shall not
King James translates this as “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and
whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
The advice in the Bible about wine is
about its inappropriate use or abuse. It is not a condemnation of wine or
any strong drink as being intrinsically evil. Anyone with a Bible
concordance or Internet search tool can find numerous references to wine as
a good gift from God:
 Whosoever immolateth the victim, shall offer a sacrifice of fine flour,
the tenth part of an ephi, tempered with the fourth part of a hin of oil:
 And he shall give the same measure of wine to pour out in libations for
the holocaust or for the victim.
 And that wine may cheer the heart of man. That he may make the face
cheerful with oil: and that bread may strengthen man's heart.
Ecclesiasticus xxxi: Wine drunken with moderation is the joy of the soul
and the heart.
It would be beyond absurd to suggest that
Jesus Christ was trying to keep people out of heaven by turning water into
wine for the enjoyment of the guests at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.
The Jewish people drink wine in moderation when they eat the Passover
sacrifice, and our Lord carried this forth in establishing the Sacrifice of
the Mass at the Last Supper, and indeed speaks about drinking wine in
xxvi:  And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit
of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the
kingdom of my Father.
Saint Paul urged Timothy not to “drink
water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thy frequent
And when people in the crowd suggested that the Apostles might be drunk
(filled with new wine) he replied “For these are not drunk, as you suppose,
seeing it is but the third hour of the day.”
It wasn’t that the Apostles never drank wine, it was just too early to have
been drinking very much of it.
Fermentation is the natural process that
people have used for millennia to preserve foods that would quickly spoil
without refrigeration. Wine, beer, cider, and yogurt are nature’s way of
using a beneficial microorganism to keep a harmful one at bay. And the
alcohol and vinegar produced by fermentation are used to preserve a number
of other foods. Fermented beverages are often far safer to drink than the
untreated water from an untested stream or well. Such techniques were well
known to the people of the Bible. To suggest that Jesus drank only grape
juice reveals an ignorance of the culture in which He lived.