Bernard Malamud, the author of The Natural, a sub-optimal novel converted into a terrific baseball movie, wrote: “Experience makes good people better. We have two lives … the life we learn with and the life we live with after that. Suffering brings us toward happiness.” Similarly, Oscar Wilde opined: “The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past while every sinner has a future.”

On January 25 we celebrate the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Some time between AD 33 and AD 36, Saul (soon to be renamed Paul), rabid persecutor of Christians, was on his famous road to Damascus. As Acts 9 recounts, there was a flash of light from heaven, he fell to the ground (there is no mention of a horse), and a dialogue ensued:

Voice: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

Paul: “Who art thou, Lord?”

Voice: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.”

Paul (trembling): “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”

That’s the question we must ask.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection