St. Cyril of Jerusalem Parish,15520 Ventura Boulevard, Encino, California - St. Cyril of Jerusalem Church, 15520 Ventura Boulevard,  Encino, California 91436



From the Desk of Father Mac

July 8, 2018

My Dear Friends in Christ,

In today’s second reading taken from his Second Letter to the Corinthians Saint Paul says “a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated” (2 Cor 12:7). What does Paul mean by “thorn in the flesh?”

Think of a physical thorn. When you touch a thorn bush or pick up a rose stem, a thorn can break off in your skin. This embedded thorn will cause pain even after the contact with the bush is past. The only way to heal the pain is to find the thorn and extract it from the wound. Now what might be the psychological meaning of a “thorn in the flesh?” If a physical thorn continues to cause pain even after contact with the thorn bush is past, then a psychological “thorn in the flesh” could be a memory of something that continues to cause emotional pain even though the event itself is long past.

Many have speculated what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was. Some say it might have been a physical infirmity, a spiritual ailment, or a struggle with a particular temptation. This is pure speculation, but perhaps Paul’s thorn might have been psychological guilt. Recall that before his conversion Paul was a Pharisee who oversaw the persecution and incarceration of Christians and was present at the stoning of Stephen. After his conversion, it’s plausible that Saint Paul may have struggled with the guilt of his past sins. Despite all the graces he received, he may have believed deep down in his heart that he was thoroughly wretched because of his past pride. Perhaps guilt motivated him to beg the Lord three times to remove this thorn.

His guilt, however, did not cripple him. In fact, it strengthened him. It was the reason that God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In other words, Saint Paul’s thorn in the flesh made him humble, and humility is the clear path to sanctity.

In the end, whatever the thorn was, it made Paul more dependent on Christ and – in the words of today’s psalm – made him keep his eyes fixed on the Lord. Paul openly shared his struggles so that in our times of struggle we might learn from him and seek refuge in Christ.

So, what is your thorn in the flesh? Maybe it’s some emotional trauma from your past or an ongoing struggle with a particular sin. Maybe it’s a grudge you are holding onto against another. Whatever it is, you might be aware of it. Perhaps, like Paul, you have begged the Lord to remove it. You might even think that you are over it. But if the thorn is still causing pain, the invitation is to imitate Paul and be humble enough to recognize that our weaknesses and failures are actually a source of spiritual strength because it creates a space where God’s power can truly dwell and expand within us. In our weakness, God’s power is perfected!

In Christ,


For Information, please contact the Parish Office at or phone 818.986.8234


St Cyril of Jerusalem Parish
15520 Ventura Boulevard
(mail: 4601 Firmament Ave)
Encino, CA  91436
818- 986.8234


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Image of artwork in header - Used with permission (one-time use only)  from: Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, WI.
Title: "St Cyril of Jerusalem" - Artist: Anthony Visco, Atelier for the Sacred Arts, Philadelphia, PA - Shrine’s website:

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