The life and conversion of St. Paul has been a very popular subject for ages, for it represents many positive and inspiring lessons to all. These include such themes as the profound and endless mercy of God Almighty, our individual roles and missions as instruments of God's purpose, and the idea that we can all change for the better.
In recent years, however, politically correct, modernist, feminist, sodomite, and other forces with agendas of their own have seen Paul's life and conversion more as a lump of clay with which they can twist and mold their own biased, false, and deceptive bread rather than the true manna from Heaven which our Creator fed Paul on the way to Damascus. These false interpretations and counterfeit concoctions from those who spin sin and perdition reflect the two faces of the devil at every turn. They either tell us that Paul was a male chauvinist or favored the path to female priests. They either tell us that Paul detested homosexuals or accepted their lifestyles. They either tell us that Paul was an insane zealot or portray him as more significant than Christ! Needless to say, what those who sell sin and perdition have to say about Paul runs the gamut of extremes similar to Paul's life. It is ironic that perceptions about Paul are as diverse and extreme as Paul's life was. One of the most significant areas showing this dichotomy is the relationship between Paul and Ecumenism.
Evil Always Has Two Faces
We should note at the outset that evil always has two faces for it is the source of lies, deception, and hypocrisy. Shakespeare correctly observed that one can smile and smile, and yet be a devil. In fact, if we recall that the evil one has never been called the stupid one, then we must surely accept the fact that he is the epitome of evil intelligence we call sinister and treacherous. Obviously, the devil will not inject evil directly, but rather he will insinuate himself under the guise of goodness and truth.
Ecumenism has been sold to us as the desire to build bridges between religions, to create a system of mutual respect and inclusion, to focus on similarities that bind rather than differences that divide. It is easy to see how much of this bill of goods is packaged so attractively from the Vatican to the numerous clergy who represent such efforts. This all seems so positive, so beneficial, so loving, so merciful, and so "Christ-like" to many people. I mean, did not Christ come to spread love, respect, mercy, and inclusion? Did He not include all types of people in his visits and parables? Did He not tell us to open our arms to all kinds of people?
We define Ecumania as the rampant, zealous desire to melt all religions into one, unified, Pan-Religion which equates Christ with other prophets and religious leaders, which disrespects the true Catholic Faith in its fawning desire to embrace false faiths, and which tramples on the memory of those missionaries and saints who gave their lives to spread the faith to the ends of the earth rather than on some religious mix sandwich!
As I have written before, if we accept that all religions are equal we are saying that these great missionaries and saints were fools who pushed for something they did not have to push for and died for foolish causes. Above all, we are violating God's Own Word and Divine Revelation not to mention His Own call that we carry His message to the ends of the earth per Our Lord's words in Matthew 28: 21 and Mark 16: 15-16.
What we see, then, are two faces of ecumenism. One speaks of positive, constructive unity and the other speaks of negative, destructive melting of religious identity. As expected, Paul's life and conversion is waved as both a call to spread our faith and a call to include our faith in the mishmash of earthly religious distortion. It is in this apparent contradiction that we see the stain of sin and the smoke of evil. It is the warning that we must clarify which face of ecumenism is championed by Paul.
Ecumaniac View of Paul
Ecumaniacs see in Paul a transformation from deadly, intolerant, persecutor into enlightened, inclusive, tolerant visionary. They equate the Saul chasing people who were different to anyone who pushes his view on others, who slices understanding with the edge of a sword leaving division in the name of his own intense beliefs, and who seeks to impose his way on others. To ecumaniacs, those who disfavor bringing religions together are present-day Sauls seeking to divide, to enforce, to impose, to madly destroy unity, all in the name of their holier than thou self-perceptions. On this perverse pastry of perdition these ecumaniacs add the cherry of hypocrisy by telling us that those who defend the identity of our faith are agents of insane, demented, narrow-minded, foolish zeal serving wrong rather than good. Consequently, these people point to the Paul which arose from the ruins of Saul on that path to Damascus as the enlightened pioneer of inclusion, of bringing people of all walks together. Modernists and liberal media tell us, as that infamous ABC special on Paul did a year ago, that the Christianity of Christ would have gone nowhere without Paul's desire to include rather than exclude. Additionally, they will tell us that Saul would have gone nowhere had he remained intoxicated in his intolerant, exclusive, narrow-minded stupor. These people clearly imply that those who seek to stress differences among religions are mere drunken losers too intoxicated in their brew of division to be of any help to society. The story goes on to say that only by being knocked off their horses, by being stricken into a realization of their foolish ways, can people who fight against ecumenism ever hope to be freed from their ignorant arrogance and made useful to society.
The Paul of True Oecumenism
I interpret true ecumenism as the desire to spread the true faith to all people and not just some. It is the recognition of our true Catholic faith as the one and only genuine faith, as the genuine, authentic vehicle which will carry us to salvation. It is the acceptance of that faith as the instrument by which we become instruments, as the path by which we become paths to others, and as the purpose which gives us purpose. Ecumenism is not the surrender of one's faith identity in the footsteps of Europe's surrender of its individual national currency identities at the feet of the Euro. It is the surrender of one's personal identity in the footsteps of Christ's surrender of His life at the feet of His Father's Plan.
True Ecumenism is not about melting Christ in a sea of belief but about melting belief in a sea of Christ. It is not about leading the Catholic faith to some central spiritual or religious destination but about leading as many lost sheep as possible to Christ. Ecumaniacs will tell us that intolerance will lead to violence and death and that those who disfavor ecumenism favor violence against those who are different.
They will point to the transformation of Saul's violence and death into Paul's love and service. True ecumenism is not about spreading violence and harm but about spreading Christ, Who is love and mercy. However, one cannot spread Christ when one denies Christ or distorts His message under the guise of sensitivity to false beliefs. Therefore, ecumania is not about spreading Christ but about spreading deception.
Paul was not about spreading such deception, lies, distortions, or fraud. He constantly stressed that he was spreading Christ and Christ's message, which is truth. Paul told us that we are not called to lose Christ while including others, but to include others in the search for Christ using His words and mission as our guide.
Agents of deception and evil tell us that Paul calls us to include others at the expense of Christ, but this is the core of distortion on which so-called ecumenism is based. This distorted belief is more accurately called ecumania for it is insanity draped in delusion and false nobility. Agents of deception and evil will tell us that Christ desires inclusion for the sake of inclusion as shown by Paul's efforts to spread the faith to new horizons, but this is the superficial triviality on which political correctness is based. Finally, these agents will tell us that the story of Paul is a mandate for draping sin in so-called compassionate understanding as a rationalizing mantle. They will tell us that Christ transformed the Saul of exclusion into the Paul of inclusion, and then raise this claim as evidence that any faith which denounces sodomy, abortion, playing God, and Euthanasia belongs to Saul and not to Paul.
We know, of course, that Paul was about Christ, and Christ is about truth, and truth is about God's Word which tells us that the ecumaniacs have it upside down. These lost fools will tell us that inclusion calls for the Catholic faith and Christianity in general to include itself in the larger pool of worldly religions. We know, however, from Christ, that inclusion calls for the Catholic faith to include as many people from other faiths as are willing to convert, to stand and be counted, and to follow Our Divine Savior on the road to Calvary and beyond.
Yes, Christ is knocking Catholics off their horses and asking them "Why do you persecute Me?" but no, this is not to alert them to surrender their faith into a one religion order. Rather, it is to slap us into our senses and remind us that to the extent that we do not defend, uphold, and protect our religious heritage, we are indeed persecuting Christ all over again!