On February 23, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna. St. Polycarp does not have an official patronage, but he is a great saint to seek intercession from in many circumstances. You can ask St. Polycarp to pray for you if you are facing persecution for your Faith, since he endured persecution for his Faith and was ultimately martyred. Or you can ask him to pray for someone you know who is suffering persecution for their Faith. St. Polycarp is also a great saint to seek intercession from on behalf of Church leaders, since he was a holy bishop who did a lot to combat heresy and to lead the Church well.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Great martyr, Saint Polycarp, make us steadfast witnesses to the truth in word and deed, just as you witnessed to the truth in your own life and death. Through your intercession, make our commitment to our religion of long duration, a life project, enduring until our life of faith concludes with a death of faith. As we devote ourselves to you in this period of nine days, hear the humble prayers we make before God and intercede for us in order that we become beneficiaries of the heavenly graces especially in this particular need(s) (state your intentions). Grant this, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
MEDITATION: ABOUT SAINT POLYCARP
St. Polycarp was born in 65 A.D. Nothing further is known about his early life.
Polycarp was a companion of a bishop named Papias. Both men were disciples of St. John the Apostle. Polycarp was also known to have corresponded with St. Ignatius of Antioch.
According to St. Irenaeus, Polycarp converted to Christianity after hearing the preaching of the Apostles. Polycarp was ordained a bishop in Smyrna.
Polycarp was one of the leaders of the Church during the tumultuous time when many who had known Christ personally began to die. Because the first-hand witnesses of Jesus’ works were no longer living, debates began to spring up among Christians about practices and teachings. Many heresies began to flourish, even while Christians were being persecuted by the secular government.
Polycarp saw imitation of Christ as the only answer to the problems that the Church was facing. He sought to imitate Jesus’ attitude toward the Pharisees when confronting heretics.
When dealing with disagreements among faithful Christians, Polycarp emphasized respect and forgiveness. He had to navigate through the controversy in the Church about when Easter should be celebrated since the East celebrated it in conjunction with Passover and the West celebrated it on the Sunday following Passover.
As Polycarp faced persecution for his Christian Faith, he did not seek martyrdom but waited until it was clear that God willed it. Those who knew him best admired Polycarp for this, as it allowed him time to bring more souls into the Church.
At one point, a crowd of pagans who were gathered to watch Christians be eaten by animals in the arena began to demand that Church leader Polycarp be found and put to death. Polycarp calmly left the city and hid at a farm that was nearby. He prayed for the Church as he waited to be found and killed.
As Polycarp prayed, he had a vision of his pillow turning to fire. He understood that the vision meant he would be burned alive.
When Polycarp was found by his persecutors, he talked to them and even gave them a meal to eat. Then he asked for an hour to pray. He spent the time praying for every person he knew and for the Church. His captors began to see his holiness and to question whether they should be arresting him.
Because he was eighty-six years old and clearly fragile, the proconsul begged Polycarp to give in and renounce his Faith. But Polycarp held fast to his Faith. He was set on fire, but the fire miraculously did not burn him. When his persecutors saw that he was not dying from the fire, they stabbed him to death. He died in 155. St. Polycarp’s Feast Day: February 23rd
(Culled from “Know Your Saints Online”)
CONCLUDING PRAYER – DAY 1
You became a bishop and devoted yourself to serving the Church. You worked to combat heresy and to heal divisions. You ultimately gave up your life for God as a martyr. Pray for me, that I may be as devoted a servant of God as you were. Pray that I may be eager to give my entire life to God.
Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory be…
Through the intercession of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, may Almighty God bless you + the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Compiled by Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora da Immaculada Conceição, Paulo Ramos, Maranhão, Brazil
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PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?