A number of years in the past, on Saint Polycarp’s feast day, I attended Mass at a friary for senior Franciscans. During his homily, the priest emphasised that Saint Polycarp was arrested and martyred at age eighty-six and that he was the identical age as a few of the friars current at this Mass. His homily made me assume that Saint Polycarp could be a great patron and instance for older clergymen and bishops.
Saint Polycarp was born within the yr 69 AD, and he knew the Apostles. He was a disciple of the Apostle and Evangelist, Saint John, who consecrated him as Bishop of Smyrna, in what’s now Turkey. We can study one thing of Saint Polycarp’s teachings from his solely writing that continues to be: The Epistle to the Philippians. In this Epistle, Saint Polycarp inspired the Philippians to stay devoted Catholics, apply advantage, keep away from sin, and comply with Jesus’s teachings and the teachings of Saint Paul. He additionally gave particular recommendation for laypeople, deacons, younger males, virgins, and clergymen. Saint Polycarp’s Epistle reveals his personal humility and his want for the salvation of souls.
When Polycarp was eighty-six years previous, the Christians in Smyrna had been experiencing a time of persecution. One day, whereas watching the martyrdom of some Christians within the amphitheater, the gang referred to as for Polycarp to be killed too. Polycarp had already left the town of Smyrna to remain at a home within the countryside after some associates persuaded him to go. While staying in the home, he devoted his time to prayer. He skilled a imaginative and prescient of his pillow on fireplace and stated, “it should wants be that I shall be burned alive.” Having discovered that the federal government forces had been close to, he went to remain at one other farmhouse. A slave boy revealed the place Polycarp was staying after having been tortured, and the troopers got here to arrest him. Polycarp stated, “God’s shall be executed”. Polycarp spoke kindly to the lads who got here to arrest him and had a meal ready for them. Before departing, he prayed for 2 hours, interceding for everybody he ever met and for the Catholic Church in all of the nations of the world. Two authorities officers drove Polycarp to the stadium of their carriage, however pushed him out when he couldn’t be persuaded to surrender his religion. Polycarp walked the remainder of the way in which. When he arrived, he heard a voice from Heaven say to him, “Be sturdy, and present thyself a person, Polycarp.” The Christians with him additionally heard this voice. The proconsul ordered Polycarp to curse Jesus. Polycarp replied, “Eighty-six years have I served him, and he by no means did me any damage: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?” When the proconsul insisted, Polycarp stated, “Since you might be so intent that I ought to swear by the fortunes of Caesar, and because you faux to not know who or what I’m, hear me declare with boldness, I’m a Christian. And for those who want to study what the doctrines of Christianity are, appoint me a day, and also you shall hear them.” The proconsul threatened to have Polycarp killed by wild beasts until he “repented.” Polycarp bravely answered, “Call them then, for we aren’t accustomed to repent of what’s good with the intention to undertake what’s evil…” Polycarp was then threatened with fireplace. He stated, “You threaten me with fireplace that burns for an hour and after just a little is extinguished, however you might be unaware of the fireplace of the approaching judgment and of everlasting punishment, reserved for the ungodly. Why do you delay? Bring forth what you want.”
After it was introduced that Polycarp confessed that he was a Christian, the gang shouted for him to be burned to loss of life. Polycarp was made to face in entrance of a stake surrounded by piles of wooden. He regarded towards Heaven and prayed, “O Lord God Almighty, the Father of your loved one and blessed son, Jesus Christ, by whom we now have obtained the data of you, the God of angels and powers, and of each creature, and of the entire race of the righteous who reside earlier than you, I offer you thanks that you’ve got counted me worthy of this present day and this hour, that I must be counted within the variety of your martyrs within the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection of everlasting life, each of soul and physique, via the incorruption given by the Holy Spirit. Among them might I be accepted this present day earlier than you as a wealthy and acceptable sacrifice, as you, the ever-truthful God, have foreordained, have revealed beforehand to me, and now have fulfilled. I reward you for all issues. I bless you, I glorify you, together with the eternal and heavenly Jesus Christ, your loved one Son, with Him, to You, and the Holy Spirit, be glory now and without end. Amen.” They set fireplace to the wooden; nevertheless, the fireplace didn’t kill him or burn him. Instead, it appeared to encircle him and he was described as “showing shiny via the flames.” The spectators, indignant that he was not dead, demanded that he be struck with a sword. The executioner shortly did so and Polycarp’s blood put out the flames. Saint Polycarp died on February 23 within the yr 155.
During his lifetime, Polycarp was admired by devoted Catholics as a saintly man and was acknowledged by the Church as a martyr and saint after his loss of life. He is an excellent position mannequin for bishops as he frequently proclaimed the Gospel and Catholic doctrines, strongly opposed heresy, and inspired the members of the Church to reside holy lives. He was a real non secular father to the folks of his diocese. Saint Polycarp’s witness of holiness elevated with age. He courageously accepted loss of life as a martyr out of affection for Jesus.
Saint Polycarp’s life additionally displays the way in which that older folks can share their knowledge with these youthful than themselves– giving it to them as a priceless legacy. As a younger man, Saint Polycarp was instructed within the Faith by the Apostle Saint John. When Polycarp was an older man, he taught the younger Saint Irenaeus what he discovered from Saint John. Saint Irenaeus all the time remembered the particular occasions he shared with Saint Polycarp. Years later, he wrote: “The reminiscence of that point when as a youth I used to be with Polycarp in Asia Minor is as recent in my thoughts as the current. Even now I may level to the place the place he sat and taught, and describe his coming and going, his each motion, his outward look, and his method of discourse to the folks. It appears as if I nonetheless heard him inform of his affiliation with the apostle John and with others who noticed the Lord, and as if he had been nonetheless regarding me their phrases and what he heard from them in regards to the Lord and His miracles….”
Like Saint Polycarp, these senior clergymen and bishops who’ve remained devoted and taught the reality of the Catholic Faith for a lot of a long time may be great non secular fathers to youthful Catholics. You might meet a few of these devoted senior clergymen in the event that they help in your parish. Others reside a hidden life in nursing houses. In my expertise, they often welcome Catholic guests and are blissful to listen to your confessions, present non secular path, and pray with you. They, like Saint Polycarp, have knowledge to share with us.
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