History has not recorded St. Paul’s exact date of birth, but scolars have narrowed it down pretty well. We are very likely within one year of the two-thousandth birthday of the Holy Apostle who is the human author of half of the New Testament. Pope Benedict has set this year aside as a special Pauline Year.
During the Church’s yearly cycle of readings, our second readings at Holy Mass on Ordinary Sundays are taken in sequence from St. Paul’s letters. Perhaps you have noticed that, through the summer, we have been reading sequentially through Romans at Mass. (For some homilies on these readings, see:
If there were ever a year to follow through on your resolution to try to read St. Paul’s letters, this is it. (And if you never made such a resolution, you should have.) It might be more enjoyable and more stimulating to read them along with the whole Church. The Sunday Mass readings do not include every verse of the letters, so if you read on your own at the same time, you will be a step ahead of everybody else at Mass, and you could give a little lecture in the parking lot afterwards.
Here is the schedule between now and the end of the Pauline Year, next June 29:
Starting on September 28, we will spend three weeks reading Philippians.
From October 19 until the beginning of Advent, we will spend five weeks reading I Thessalonians. (Though on two Sundays we will have special readings: November 2 for All Souls, and November 9 for the Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran.)
[During Advent and Christmas season, we break out of our sequential reading of St. Paul, so I am going to have to get back to you on this.]
From January 18 until February 25, we will spend four weeks readings chapters six through eleven of I Corinthians and then two weeks reading the beginning of II Corinthians.
During Lent and Easter season…Very complicated; I will have to get back to you.
From Pentecost to the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, we will spend three weeks reading more of II Corinthians.
To summarize all this complexity, here is your St. Paul reading plan for the Holy Year:
Read Romans before September 28.
Read Philippians between September 28 and October 19.
Read First Thessalonians between October 19 and November 30.
Read First Corinthians 6-11 between January 12 and February 24
Read Second Corinthians between June 1 and June 29.
Follow this reading plan, dear reader, and I guarantee that…
1. You will become smarter.
2. You will impress people.
3. God will be pleased.
4. Good things will happen!