Posted in MARTYRS, PRAYERS of the CHURCH, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 23 February – A rich and pleasing sacrifice –

Thought for the Day – 23 February – A rich and pleasing sacrifice – Memorial of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, Apostolic Father, Bishop and Martyr

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna (c 69 – c 155)
Bishop, Apostolic Church Father and Martyr

An excerpt from a Letter on the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp by the Church of Smyrna

When the pyre was ready, Polycarp took off all his clothes and loosened his under-garment.   He made an effort also to remove his shoes, though he had been unaccustomed to this, for the faithful always vied with each other in their haste to touch his body.   Even before his martyrdom he had received every mark of honour in tribute to his holiness of life.

There and then, he was surrounded by the material for the pyre.   When they tried to fasten him also with nails, he said:  “Leave me as I am.   The one who gives me strength to endure the fire will also give me strength to stay quite still on the pyre, even without the precaution of your nails.”   So they did not fix him to the pyre with nails but only fastened him instead.   Bound as he was, with hands behind his back, he stood like a mighty ram, chosen out for sacrifice from a great flock, a worthy victim made ready to be offered to God.

Looking up to heaven, he said:  “Lord, almighty God, Father of Your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have come to the knowledge of Yourself, God of angels, of powers, of all creation, of all the race of saints who live in Your sight, I bless You for judging me worthy of this day, this hour, so that in the company of the martyrs I may share the cup of Christ, Your anointed one and so rise again to eternal life in soul and body, immortal through the power of the Holy Spirit.   May I be received among the martyrs in Your presence today as a rich and pleasing sacrifice.   God of truth, stranger to falsehood, You have prepared this and revealed it to me and now You have fulfilled Your promise.   I praise You for all things, I bless You, I glorify you through the eternal priest of heaven, Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son.   Through Him be glory to You, together with Him and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.”prayer-before-his-martyrdom-st-polycarp-23-feb-2019.jpg

When he had said “Amen” and finished the prayer, the officials at the pyre lit it.   But, when a great flame burst out, those of us privileged to see it witnessed a strange and wonderful thing.   Indeed, we have been spared in order to tell the story to others.   Like a ship’s sail swelling in the wind, the flame became as it were a dome encircling the martyr’s body.   Surrounded by the fire, his body was like bread that is baked, or gold and silver white-hot in a furnace, not like flesh that has been burnt.   So sweet a fragrance came to us that it was like that of burning incense or some other costly and sweet-smelling gum.

The fire was lighted but it did him no hurt, so he was stabbed to the heart and his dead body was burnt.   “Then,” say the writers of his acts, “we took up the bones, more precious than the richest jewels or gold and deposited them in a fitting place, at which may God grant us to assemble with joy to celebrate the birthday of the martyr to his life in heaven!”

St Polycarp was a Christian leader in a pagan world. He spoke clearly and simply, fearless in love and defense of Christ, even though persecutions raged around him. He sought only to hand on the message he had been given by John. Even as Polycarp prepared for martyrdom, his joy and confident trust were evident to all.

The community of believers celebrated the anniversary of Polycarp’s death with great joy, for in him they had seen an outstanding example of love and patience.   He had held strong and had won the treasure of eternal life.   Polycarp is remembered as an Apostolic Father, one who was a disciple of the apostles.

St Polycarp, Pray for the Church, Pray for Us!st-polycarp-pray-for-us-23-feb-2019.jpg


Quote/s of the Day – 23 February – “Stand Fast!” – St Polycarp

Quote/s of the Day – 23 February – The Memorial of St Polycarp (c 69–c 155) Martyr and Apostolic Father of the Church

“Stand fast, therefore,
in this conduct
and follow the example of the Lord,
firm and unchangeable in faith,
lovers of the brotherhood,
loving each other,
united in truth,
helping each other
with the mildness of the Lord,
despising no man.”

St Polycarp, Letter to the Philippiansstand fast therefore in this conduct - st polycarp - 23 feb 2019

“Let us, therefore,
forsake the vanity
of the crowd and their
false teachings
and turn back
to the Word delivered to us
from the beginning.”let us therefore forsake the vanity of the crowd st polycarp 23feb2019

“Hear me declare
with boldness,
I am a Christian!”

St Polycarp (c 69–c 155) Martyr

and Apostolic Father of the Churchhear me declare with boldness i am a christian st polycarp - 23 feb 2019


One Minute Reflection – 23 February – The witness of the Prophets leads to the witness of the Apostles

One Minute Reflection – 23 February – Saturday of the Sixth week in Ordinary Time, Year C – The Memorial of St Polycarp (c 69–c 155) Martyr and Father of the Church

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain, apart by themselves and he was transfigured before them and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses and they were talking to Jesus…Mark 9:2-4

The witness of the Prophets leads to the witness of the Apostles

REFLECTION – “It was the will of the Lord Jesus that Moses alone (though he was accompanied, it is true, by Joshua (Ex 24:13)) should climb the mountain to receive the law.   In the gospel too, out of His many disciples He limited the revelation of His risen glory to three – Peter, James and John.   Wishing to put no stumbling block in the way of His weaker followers, whose vacillating minds might prevent them from taking in the full meaning of the paschal mystery, He chose to keep His redemptive plan a secret and repeatedly warned Peter, James and John not to talk freely about what they had seen. Peter, in fact, did not know what to say.   He thought of setting up three shelters for the Lord and His attendants.   Then he found himself unable to bear the brilliance of the glory radiating from His transfigured Lord.   Together with those “sons of thunder” (Mk 3:17), James and John, he fell to the ground (Mt 17:6)…

They entered the cloud in order to receive knowledge of hidden, secret matters and there they heard the voice of God saying:  “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”   What does “This is my beloved Son” mean?   The implication is as follows: Make no mistake, Simon.   Do not imagine God’s Son can be put into the same category as the servants who attend him.   This man is my Son – neither Moses nor Elijah can be given that title, even though the one opened the sea and the other closed the heavens. Both of them exercised dominion over the elements but it was by the power of the Lord’s word that they did so (Ex 14; 1 Kgs 17:1).   They were only servants, it was the Lord who made the waters into a solid wall, the Lord who caused the drought that closed the heavens and the Lord who, in his own time, opened them to release the rain.

For evidence of the resurrection to be accepted, the combined witness of those servants is required.   But when the glory of their risen Lord is revealed, the servant’ aureole is lost in shadow.   Sunrise obscures the stars, the light of the heavenly bodies grows pale before the brilliance of the sun shining on this material world.   How then could human stars attract notice in the presence of the eternal Sun of Justice?   (Mal 3:20).”…St Ambrose (340-397) Father & Doctormark 9 2 and he wwas transfigured - sunrise obscures the stars st ambrose 23 feb 2019.jpg

PRAYER – Lord of all creation, let us praise You with voice and mind and deed. Let us too give glory to Your Holy Son and bask in the Sun of Justice! Grant us a place in the reflection of His Light to shine on those around us.   As You gave St Polycarp, a place in the company of the Martyrs, grant us our eternal joy with him and all Your angels and saints.   May his intercession, give us the strength to drink from that cup which Christ drank and so rise to eternal life.   Through Christ our Lord, in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God forever,


Our Morning Offering – 23 February – O Sweet Mother of God

Our Morning Offering – 23 February – Saturday of the Sixth week in Ordinary Time, Year C – Marian Saturdays

O Sweet Mother of God
By St Faustina Kowalska (1905–1938)

O sweet Mother of God,
I model my life on You.
You are for me the bright dawn.
In You I lose myself, enraptured.
O Mother, Immaculate Virgin,
In You, the divine ray is reflected,
Midst storms, ‘tis You
who teach me to love the Lord,
O my shield and defense from the foe.

(Diary 1232)o sweet mother of god - st faustina 23 feb 2019.jpg


Saint of the Day – 23 February – St Serenus the Gardener (Died 307) Martyr

Saint of the Day – 23 February – St Serenus the Gardener (Died 307) Martyr – born in Greece and was beheaded on 23 February 303 at Sirmiun, Pannonia (modern Hungary). Patronages – bachelors, falsely accused people, gardeners.

st serenus the gardener 2

Serenus was by birth a Grecian.   He left his family estate, friends and country to serve God in celibacy, penance and prayer.   With this design he bought a garden in Sirmium in Pannonia, which he cultivated with his own hands and lived on the fruits and herbs it produced.

One day a woman came to his garden with her two daughters.   Serenus, seeing them come up, advised them to withdraw and to conduct themselves in future as decency required in persons of their sex and condition.   The woman, stung at our Saint’s charitable remonstrance, retired in confusion but resolved on revenging the supposed affront.   She accordingly wrote to her husband that Serenus had insulted her.

He, on receiving her letter, went to the emperor to demand justice, whereupon the emperor gave him a letter to the governor of the province to enable him to obtain satisfaction.   The governor ordered Serenus to be immediately brought before him. Serenus, on hearing the charge, answered, “I remember that, some time ago, a lady came into my garden at an unseasonable hour and I own I took the liberty to tell her it was against decency for one of her sex and quality to be abroad at such an hour.”   This plea of Serenus having put the officer to the blush for his wife’s conduct, he dropped his prosecution.

But the governor, suspecting by this answer that Serenus might be a Christian, began to question him, saying, “Who are you and what is your religion?”   Serenus, without hesitating one moment, answered, “I am a Christian. It seemed a while ago as if God rejected me as a stone unfit to enter His building but He has the goodness to take me now to be placed in it; I am ready to suffer all things for His name, that I may have a part in His kingdom with His Saints”   The governor, hearing this burst into rage and said, “Since you sought to elude by flight the emperor’s edicts and have positively refused to sacrifice to the gods, I condemn you for these crimes to lose your head.”

st serenus the gardener

The sentence was no sooner pronounced than the Saint was carried off and beheaded, on 23 February, in 307.

Posted in MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY, YouTube VIDEOS

Memorials of the Saints – 23 February

St Polycarp of Smyrna (c 69 – c 155) (Memorial)
St Polycarp’s life and death:

St Alexander Akimetes
St Boswell
St Dositheus of Egypt
St Felix of Brescia
St Florentius of Seville
St Giovanni Theristi
Bl Giovannina Franchi
Bl John of Hungary
Bl Josephine Vannini
Bl Juan Lucas Manzanares
Bl Ludwik Mzyk
St Martha of Astorga
St Medrald
St Milburga
Bl Nicolas Tabouillot
St Ordonius
St Polycarp of Rome
Bl Rafaela Ybarra de Villalongo
St Romana
St Serenus the Gardener (Died 307) Martyr
Bl Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski
St Willigis of Mainz
St Zebinus of Syria

Martyrs of Syrmium – 73 Christians who were martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian. We know no details about them, and only six of their names – Antigonus, Libius, Rogatianus, Rutilus, Senerotas and Syncrotas.