Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Saint February 23 : St. Polycarp : Martyr : Patron of Against Earaches, and Dysentery


Feast Day:
February 23
155 at Smyrna
Patron of:
against dysentery, against earache

Saint Polycarp (69-155), whose feast day we celebrate today, was a holy and learned bishop of Smyrna—a second generation Christian who heard the word of the Lord directly from the apostle John. He is the first Christian martry whose acts of martyrdom were written at the time of his death, and preserved to demonstrate his faith and lack of fear in persecution. In a time of struggle an unrest in the fledgling faith, Polycarp, along with his friend Saint Ignatius of Antioch, looked to the life and Word of Christ as the example of how to celebrate the liturgy, how to worship, and how to live. Saint Ignatius said of Saint Polycarp, “Your mind is grounded in God as on an unmovable rock.”
Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna at a time when Roman persecution of Christians was in full effect. Despite the constant rear of arrest, torture, and death, Polycarp remained resolute in his faith, candidly preaching his belief in Christ, and telling those of other faiths who demanded recognition and respect, “Yes I recognize you- I recognize you as the son of Satan.”
Polycarp was well-known in the early community as learned, patient, and wise. He demonstrated forgiveness, humility, and diplomacy in settling conflict and controversy in the Church. He wrote prolifically, although few of his work survives. Only one letter, a letter to the Philippians, has been preserved. In this letter, Polycarp summarizes and transmits the teachings of Christ:
“Therefore, prepare yourselves. Serve God in reverence and truth, leaving behind empty, fruitless talk and the deception of the crowd, believing in the one who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave him glory and a throne at his right hand, to whom all things in heaven and earth are subject, whom every breathing thing worships, who is coming as judge of the living and dead, whose blood God will require from those who disobey him. But the one who raised him from the dead also will raise us if we do his will and follow in his commandments and love the things he loved—refraining from all unrighteousness, greediness, love of money, evil speech, and false witness, not paying back evil for evil or abuse for abuse or blow for blow or curse for curse, but remembering what the Lord said when he taught: Do not judge so that you may not be judged; forgive and then you will be forgiven; show mercy so that you will be shown mercy; with what measure you measure out it will be measured again to you; and that blessed are the poor and those being persecuted for the sake of righteousness; for theirs is the kingdom of God.” (Polycarp to the Philippians, 2) Saint Polycarp modeled his life after Christ. He did not seek out martyrdom as did some at the time, instead, like Jesus, waiting until the Lord decided it was his time. When the Romans, bloodthirsty for the death of Christians, called for his death at the hands of wild animals in the arena, Polycarp was persuaded by friends to hide in a small farmhouse outside of the populated area. While there, Polycarp had a dream in which his pillow caught fire, leading him to tell his followers that he would be martyred by fire. There he was eventually found, after the Romans tortured the servant boys providing him food. Hearing the soldiers approaching, Polycarp came out of hiding to greet them, saying “God’s will be done.” He offered them a meal, and asked permission to pray for one hour before being arrested. Given that he was 86 at the time, calm and gentle, and had showed them hospitality, the soldiers allowed him two hours of prayer, during which he prayed for the continuation of the Church, and “every person he had ever known.” Saint Polycarp was then led to the arena for martyrdom. Prior to release of the wild animals, expected to tear him to bits, the magistrate asked him to renounce Christ, unwilling to send an 86 year old man to his death. Polycarp answered, “Eighty six years have I been His servant, and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Again, the magistrate asked for Polycarp to renounce his faith and pledge an oath of allegiance to Caesar. Polycarp responded, "If you imagine that I will swear by Caesar, you do not know who I am. Let me tell you plainly, I am a Christian." Running out of options, the magistrate begged Polycarp to change his mind, or else be thrown to the wild animals. Unafraid, Polycarp responded, "Change of mind from better to worse is not a change allowed to us."
Polycarp, due to his lack of apparent fear, was sentenced to being burned alive. As they were tying him to the stake and lighting the fire, Polycarp prayed to Heaven:
"Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creation and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, among those who are in you presence, as you have prepared and foretold and fulfilled, God who is faithful and true. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen."
The flames were lit, but miraculously did not touch the saint. Rather then spread around him like an arch, causing him to glow with a heavenly light. Seeing what was happening, the Roman soldiers stabbed him in the throat, killing him, his blood quenching the flames of the fire. His body was subsequently burned by the Romans to prevent him from being worshipped, although his bones were stolen by Christians and saved as relics. Saint Polycarp is an inspiration to us, especially during our Lenten season of preparation. He remained true in his faith, candid in his words, and did not go looking for a glorious martyr’s death. But when it came looking for him, he readily accepted the will of the Lord, proclaiming the Good News until the moment he expired. His courage and confidence in the face of persecution inspires us to step outside of our own perceived strength and power, and to look to Him who provides all for us—our Father in heaven. For he will provide us all that we need: hope, endurance, love, strength, and righteousness. All we need to do is repent, believe, and ask.
Therefore we should persevere unceasingly in our hope and down payment of our righteousness, which is Christ Jesus, who bore our sins in his own body on the tree, who committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth, but because of us, in order that we might live in him, endured all things. Therefore let us be imitators of his endurance, and if we should suffer because of his name, we should glorify him. For this is the example he set for us in himself, and this we have believed. (Polycarp to the Philippians, 8) Text shared from 365 Rosaries Blog

#PopeFrancis "I invite each one to become a promoter of the culture of peace in every realm of life." Audience - FULL TEXT + Video

The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We are often tempted to think that Creation is our property, a possession that we can exploit to our pleasure and to which we must render account to no one. In the passage of the Letter to the Romans (8:19-27), of which we just heard a part, the Apostle Paul reminds us, instead, that Creation is a wonderful gift that God has put in our hands, so that we can enter in relationship with Him and recognize  the sign of His design of love, to whose realization we are all called to collaborate, day after day.
However, when the human being lets himself be gripped by egoism, he ends up by ruining even the most beautiful things that were entrusted to him. And so it has happened also with Creation. We think of water. Water is a most beautiful thing and so important; water gives us life, it helps us in everything but to exploit minerals water is contaminated, Creation is soiled and destroyed. This is only one example. There are so many. With the tragic experience of sin, communion with God broken, we have broken the original communion with all that surrounds us and we have ended up by corrupting Creation, thus rendering it a slave, subject to our perishability. And, unfortunately, the consequence of all this is dramatically before our eyes every day. When man breaks his communion with God, he loses his original beauty and ends up disfiguring everything around him; and where everything at first referred back to the Father-Creator and to His infinite love, now it bears the sad and desolate sign of human pride and voracity. Human pride, exploiting Creation, destroys.
However, the Lord does not leave us alone and, even in this desolate picture, He offers us a new prospect of liberation, of universal salvation. It is what Paul makes evident with joy, inviting us to listen to the groaning of the whole of Creation. In fact, if we pay attention, everything around us groans: Creation itself groans, we human beings groan and the Spirit groans within us, in our heart. Now, these groans are not a sterile, disconsolate lament but – as the Apostle specifies – they are the groans of one giving birth; they are the groans of one who suffers, but who knows that a new life is about to come to light. And in our case it is truly so. We are still dealing with the consequences of our sin and everything around us still bears the sign of our toils, of our failures, of our closures. At the same time, however, we know that the Lord has saved us and it has already been given to us to contemplate and to enjoy in ourselves and in what surrounds us signs of the Resurrection, of Easter, which brings about a new Creation.
This is the content of our hope. A Christian does not live outside the world; he is able to recognize in his life and in what surrounds him signs of evil, of egoism and of sin. He is supportive of those who suffer, of those who weep, of those who are marginalized, of those who feel desperate …. But, at the same time, a Christian has learned to read all this with the eyes of Easter, with the eyes of the Risen Christ. And so he knows that we are living a time of expectation, a time of longing that of goes beyond the present, the time of fulfilment. We know in hope that the Lord wants to heal, definitively with His mercy, wounded and humiliated hearts and all that man has disfigured in his impiety, and that thus He will regenerate a new world and a new humanity, finally reconciled in His love.
How many times we Christians are tempted to disappointment, to pessimism. Sometimes we let ourselves fall into useless lament or we remain without words and we do not even know what to ask for, what to hope for … However, once again the Holy Spirit comes to help us, breath of our hope, who keeps alive the groan and expectation of our heart. The Spirit sees for us beyond the negative appearances of the present and already now reveals to us the new heavens and the new earth that the Lord is preparing for humanity.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
In Italian
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. I am happy to receive the Deacons of the Diocese of Milan and of the Society of Mary, as well as the delegation of the “Benedictine Torch of Peace,” with the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Monsignor Renato Boccardo, the Abbot of Montecassino, Dom Donato Ogliari and the Abbot of Subiaco, Dom Mauro Meacci: I invite each one to become a promoter of the culture of peace in every realm of life.
I greet the Mayor and the delegation of the town of Farindola, stricken a month ago by the avalanche that destroyed a hotel, causing numerous victims. I greet the Royal Arch-Confraternity of Piedmonte Matese with the Bishop of Alife-Caiazzo, Monsignor Valentino Di Cerbo; the participants in the manifestation against bullying with the Bishop of Palestrina, Monsignor Domenico Sigalini and the members of the Sophia Naval Operation, geared to the prevention of tragedies of human beings in the Mediterranean. I greet the members of the “Giuseppe Toniolo” Bank of Cooperative Credit of Genzano of Rome, La Stanza Accanto Association and the artists of the Rony Rollers Circus, thanking them for their performance. They create beauty! And beauty leads us to God. It is a way to come to God. Continue to create beauty! Continue, as it does us all good. Thank you!
A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the feast of the See of Saint Peter the Apostle, day of special communion of believers with the Successor of Saint Peter and with the Holy See. Dear young people, I encourage you to intensify your prayer for my Petrine ministry; dear sick, I thank you for the testimony of life given in suffering for the edification of the ecclesial community; and you, dear newlyweds, build your family on the same love that binds the Lord Jesus to His Church.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
The Holy Father’s Appeal
Of particular concern is the painful news reaching us of martyred South Sudan, where, joined to a fratricidal conflict, is a grave food crisis that scourges the region of the Horn of Africa and that condemns millions of people to death due to hunger, among them many children. At this moment, more than ever the commitment of all is necessary not to stop a declarations but to render food aid concrete and to enable it to reach the suffering populations. May the Lord sustain these brothers of ours and all those who work to help them.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. February 22, 2017 - #Eucharist

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
Lectionary: 535

Reading 11 PT 5:1-4

I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Responsorial PsalmPS 23:1-3A, 4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

AlleluiaMT 16:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church;
the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply, 
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."