Pope Benedict XVI has declared that from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009 the Church will celebrate a year dedicated to St. Paul. In his homily during First Vespers on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, 2007, the Holy Father stated, “The extraordinary apostolic results that he was able to achieve cannot, therefore, be attributed to brilliant rhetoric or refined apologetic and missionary strategies. The success of his apostolate depended above all on his personal involvement in proclaiming the Gospel with total dedication to Christ; a dedication that feared neither risk, difficulty nor persecution.”
It is not without good reason that so many Vicars of Christ have taken inspiration from this saint. Pope John Paul II has also admired the work of St. Paul, and desired to imitate him:
…I would like my words…to set your hearts aflame, like the letters of St. Paul to his companions in the Gospel, Titus and Timothy… Yes, I wish to sow courage, hope and enthusiasm abundantly in the hearts of all those many diverse people who are in charge of religious instruction and training for life in keeping with the Gospel.
Catechists should be especially eager to celebrate this special year of St. Paul. Josef Andreas Jungmann, a Jesuit scholar of the 20th century, articulated the importance of St. Paul for catechists. St. Paul, he asserted, epitomized the teaching methods used by the early Christian Church. Jungmann wrote, “[I]t is Paul who surpasses the other witnesses of the primitive Church in the power of expression…the predilection for seeing and depicting the Church, grace and salvation from the viewpoint of Christ.”