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Friday, February 26, 2010

CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: TUES. FEB. 23, 2010


CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: TUES. FEB. 23, 2010: HEADLINES:
VATICAN: PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF FLOODING IN FUNCHAL-
AMERICA: HAITI: SITUATION REMAINS DIRE AMONG PEOPLE-
EUROPE: GERMANY: CONFERENCE OF BISHOPS ASK FOR FORGIVENESS-
ASIA: PHILIPPINES: WORKING CATHOLICS CANNOT ATTEND MASS IN ARABIA-
AFRICA: SUDAN: ARCHBISHOP ELECTION CAN BRING TRANSFORMATION-

NEW ZEALAND: PRO-LIFE DOCTORS CHALLENGE GUIDELINES AT COURT-


PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF FLOODING IN FUNCHAL VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram, through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., to Bishop Antonio Jose Cavaco Carrilho of Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira, for the storms and flooding that affected the island on Saturday, causing the deaths of forty-two people and vast material damage. In the telegram the Holy Father gives assurances of his closeness to the people, and entrusts the victims to the mercy of God. At the same time, he calls for consolation and assistance to be offered to victims' families, the injured and the homeless, and praises the efforts of rescuers and aid workers.TGR/FLOODS/CAVACO:FUNCHAL VIS 100223 ()



BENEDICT XVI SUPPORTS BRAZIL'S ANNUAL FRATERNITY CAMPAIGN VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Before beginning his annual Lenten spiritual exercises on Sunday evening, the Holy Father sent a Message to Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana, president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, for the Fraternity Campaign traditionally promoted by the Brazilian Church during Lent. The theme of the 2010 campaign is "economy and life" and its motto is "You cannot serve God and Mammon". This is the third occasion on which the campaign has an ecumenical flavour as five other Christian Churches, members of the National Council of Christian Churches in Brazil, are also participating. In his Message the Pope praises the initiative undertaken by the Churches and Christian communities, "who this year have decided to unite their forces to reconcile people with God and to help them free themselves from slavery to money". "Slavery to money and injustice have their origins in the heart of man, which contains the seeds of a mysterious coexistence with evil", writes Benedict XVI. He goes on to encourage participants in the campaign "to persevere in your witness to the love of God, to the Son of God Who became man, ... and to the only good that can satisfy the human heart". The World Council of Churches, a group which brings together 349 Churches around the world and more than 500,000 Christians, has also expressed its support for the Fraternity Campaign.MESS/ FRATERNITY CAMPAIGN/ROCHA VIS 100223 (250)



STATISTICS FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN MALTA VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - For the occasion of Benedict XVI's apostolic trip to Malta, due to take place on 17 and 18 April to commemorate the 1950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck on the island, statistics have been published concerning the Catholic Church in that country. The information, updated to 31 December 2008, comes from the Central Statistical Office of the Church. Malta, the capital city of which is Valletta, has a population of 443,000 of whom 418,000 (94.4 percent) are Catholic. There are 2 ecclesiastical circumscriptions and 85 parishes. Currently there are 9 bishops, 853 priests, 1,143 religious, 43 lay members of secular institutes and 1,231 catechists. Minor seminarians number 269 and major seminarians 91. A total of 17,786 students attend 80 centres of Catholic education, from kindergartens to universities. Other institutions belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Malta include 24 homes for the elderly or disabled, 26 orphanages and nurseries, 9 family counselling centres and other pro-life centres, 24 centres for education and social rehabilitation, and 4 institutions of other kinds.OP/STATISTICS MALTA/... VIS 100223 (190)


INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE IN CAIRO VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions, began today in Cairo, Egypt. The theme of this year's gathering is confessional violence. The meeting, which is due to conclude tomorrow, is being presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and by Sheikh Ali Abd al-Baqi Shahata, secretary general of the Academy for Islamic Research of al-Azhar.CON-DIR/CONFESSIONAL VIOLENCE/TAURAN VIS 100223 (100)



OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Appointed Fr. Alberto Sanguinetti Montero of the clergy of the archdiocese of Montevideo, Uruguay, pastor of the parish of "Nuestra Senora del Carmen" in Cordon, as bishop of Canelones (area 4,532, population 453,000, Catholics 339,000, priests 40, permanent deacons 11, religious 153), Uruguay. The bishop-elect was born in Montevideo in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1973. He succeeds Bishop Orlando Romero Cabrera, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit. - Appointed Fr. Terry R. LaValley of the clergy of the diocese of Ogdensburg, U.S.A., diocesan administrator and rector of St. Mary's Cathedral, as bishop of Ogdensburg (area 31,161, population 499,700, Catholics 116,000, priests 119, permanent deacons 62, religious 127). The bishop-elect was born in Plattsburgh, U.S.A. in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1988. - Appointed Msgr. Joseph C. Bambera of the clergy of the diocese of Scranton, U.S.A., delegate of the apostolic administrator of Scranton and pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas parish at Archbald and of St. Mary of Czestochowa parish at Eynon, as bishop of Scranton (area 22.913, population 1,095,092, Catholics 316,825, priests 352, permanent deacons 63, religious 627). The bishop-elect was born in Carbondale, U.S.A. in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1983.NER:RE/.../... VIS 100223 (230)



AMERICA

HAITI: SITUATION REMAINS DIRE AMONG PEOPLE


CNA report: The Vatican's newspaper reported on Tuesday that just six weeks after the catastrophic earthquake, the plight of Haitians has already become old news, even though the situation remains "dramatic."
L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) observed that the decrease in interest can be seen in the declining presence of international media on the island and in the fact that relief and reconstruction activities are suffering from a lack of supervision.
Illustrating the desperation that prevails in the country, LOR recounted an attack on a food supply convoy in the city of Limbe earlier this week. Residents threw rocks at U.N. vehicles on their way to deliver milk and food rations to another city and made off with at least one truckload.
The president of Haiti, Rene Preval, expressed his concerns to members of the Unity Summit of Latin American and Caribbean nations in Mexico this week, saying that despite the enormous amount of support offered to the nation, the recovery will be slow, expensive and difficult.
President Preval drew attention to the fact that "every day a million Haitians sleep in the street, with problems made even graver by the rains of these days."
The president has ordered 50,000 tents from China which will arrive this week in anticipation of the rainy season, according to the Herald Sun. The rainy season in Haiti usually starts at the end of March or beginning of April. He said that 900,000 people are still in need of shelter and asked the international community for at least 200,000 more tents.
Adding to the difficult situation are aftershocks that continue to rock the island, the last of which hit Monday and measured 4.7 on the Richter scale.http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/haitians_remain_in_dire_circumstances_as_media_attention_wanes/



EUROPE

GERMANY: CONFERENCE OF BISHOPS ASK FOR FORGIVENESS


CNA report: On Tuesday, the German Conference of Catholic Bishops began their plenary session. On the first day of meetings, president of the conference Archbishop Robert Zoellisch asked for public forgiveness regarding cases of child sexual abuse in the German Church.
Archbishop Zoellisch said he was "deeply upset" by the cases of the "repugnant crime" of pedophilia which took place in some Jesuit schools in Germany from the 70s to the 90s, L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) reported.
"I ask forgiveness in the name of the German Catholic Church of all the victims of this crime," he said in a press conference, pointing out that it is particularly grave as a violation of the special trust young people give to priests.
LOR added that the archbishop gave his assurance that cases of abuse would be reported for public prosecution, but also noted that many of the cases will have already passed the 10-year statute of limitations.
In addition, Archbishop Zoellisch spoke of the Church's need to reestablish its reputation for Catholic education and its credibility in areas such as marriage and family teaching and sexual morality.
The German archbishop echoed the recent words of Cardinal Sean Brady of the Irish Bishops' Conference, pointing out that the greatest danger of the scandals is the possibility that they might affect the resolve of church-goers, "shaking their faith and threatening their capacity to trust in God."
During the press conference, the archbishop mentioned that he will be speaking to Pope Benedict XVI about all of these issues when he meets with him next month.
The Plenary Assembly will continue through Thursday, taking on a number of themes currently affecting the German Catholic Church, including the aging population, the participation of the German army in the War in Afghanistan, vocations ministry and aid to Haiti.http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/german_bishops_publicly_ask_forgiveness_for_sex_abuse/




ASIA


PHILIPPINES: WORKING CATHOLICS CANNOT ATTEND MASS IN ARABIA


Asia News report: In the Islamic country there is no freedom of religion. In order to keep her faith alive the woman took refuge in her room to pray. Filipino bishops call on the faithful to pray and reflect on the plight of workers abroad.
Manila (AsiaNews) - "During my three years working in Saudi Arabia I was never allowed to leave the house or have a day off to go to mass”. This is the story of Rebeka Perlas, a 35 year old from the Philippines, who until last week was employed as a maid in a Muslim family in Riyadh to maintain her two sons. "The only thing I could do – she adds – was get up every morning at 3 and recite the rosary on my knees in my room, before beginning my days work."
The woman is one of more than 10 million Filipino workers forced to emigrate abroad to support their families. Of these, over 200 thousand are residents in Saudi Arabia, where there is no freedom of religion and all religions other than Islam are banned by the Wahhabi kingdom.
In Saudi Arabia it is forbidden to build churches and other places of worship, carry religious symbols, or hang images in homes. The religious police (Muttawa) has tight controls to ensure these rules. The government rarely allows the celebrations of Mass in private and in some embassies. However the ease of finding employment continues to attract migrants who support the terrible working conditions, the risk of forced conversions and sexual abuse. There are a total of 8 million foreigners living and working in the kingdom. According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) from 2007 to 2008, emigration to the Middle East has seen an increase of 29.5%.
Perlas Rebeka says: "My employer was hard on me, but I was never allowed to go to church, despite my repeated requests." The woman says that in these three years it was difficult to not to receive the sacraments, but she had no choice. "I love Jesus and the Virgin Mary and prayed every day during this difficult period. Only daily prayer and faith in God allowed me to survive in the Muslim world. "
The Philippine Church yesterday celebrated the 24th National Day of migrants entitled "Economy and Sustainable Development: the keys to effective reunification of immigrant families."
On this occasion the bishops of the dioceses have invited the faithful to pray and reflect on the plight of workers abroad and their families. "On this day we remember the sacrifice and the difficulties of the millions of migrants abroad - said Fr Gil A. Alingasan of the Archdiocese of Manila - and urge them to stay away from the temptations of material gain that underlie this phenomenon, pointing out their potential in spreading the Gospel. " Through this celebration, the Church has asked the government for more economic measures to increase jobs in the country and stop the Diaspora of the Filipino people.
http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Catholic-migrant-in-Saudi-Arabia:-Three-years-without-a-day-of-rest-and-mass-17697.html






AFRICA

SUDAN: ARCHBISHOP ELECTION CAN BRING TRANSFORMATION



CNS report:

With the approach of Sudan's first multiparty elections in 24 years, Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro of Juba, Sudan, appealed to voters to learn as much as possible about the candidates before casting their votes.In a Feb. 21 pastoral letter, Archbishop Loro said the April 11 elections for the nation's president and local officials can mark the beginning of Sudan's political transformation."The church has the moral obligation to guide this important process," the archbishop wrote in the letter, titled "The Genuine Voice of the People Is the Voice of God."The campaign ends April 9, five days after Easter, and Archbishop Loro said Sudanese can take the opportunity during Lent to restore their relationship with God while hearing from candidates about their goals for the future of the country."God wants us to repent from the many sins we have committed against him and ourselves, especially in southern Sudan: tribes against tribes, killings, abductions, robbery, corruption and so forth," he said. "We must atone for these sins by prayers and good deeds."Archbishop Loro acknowledged that for 60 percent of the population in southern Sudan, where his archdiocese is located, the prospect of a voting will be a new experience, and he called for widespread participation in balloting. He expressed hope that the peace that was maintained during voter registration will carry through the election."I strongly urge those who have registered and are eligible voters to make sure they vote, because your vote is your voice and your choice," he said. "The genuine voice of the people is the voice of God. It is as well your contribution to the common good of the people of this country."He cautioned voters to refuse bribes from candidates and urged candidates to bypass opportunities to "manipulate, deceive, misguide and confuse voters." He also encouraged candidates to avoid "violent and unacceptable" language in their campaigns."I want to emphasize the importance of the virtues of honesty and integrity in the political process," he wrote. "Nobody should accept money in order to create insecurity during the campaign and the elections."The archbishop said the country will benefit if voters elect candidates who are committed to implementing "to the letter" the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government and rebel forces in the South."It took the Sudanese people more than two decades to achieve peace. Voting for wrong people, especially at this crucial time in the history of our country, is to undermine the price paid for the peace," he said.http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1000794.htm




NEW ZEALAND

PRO-LIFE DOCTORS CHALLENGE GUIDELINES AT COURT



CNA report: Pro-life doctors have gone to court to challenge new medical guidelines that require doctors to advise patients who have doubts about continuing a pregnancy that abortion is one of their options.One of the doctors challenging the guidelines is believed to be Mary English, who is a General Practitioner from Wellington and the wife of Deputy Prime Minister Bill English. According to The New Zealand Herald, Dr. English is a Catholic whose opposition to abortion is widely known. She and her husband have six children.The doctors filed an application in the country’s High Court concerning the New Zealand Medical Council guidelines, which are titled “Beliefs and Medical Practice.”The current guidelines note that the law allows doctors to conscientiously refuse to provide a service or give advice on contraception, sterilization or “other reproductive health services.”The proposed guideline reads:"While the council recognizes that you are entitled to hold your own beliefs, it remains your responsibility to ensure that a pregnant woman who comes to you for medical care and expresses doubt about continuing with the pregnancy is provided with or is offered access to objective information or assistance to enable her to make informed decisions on all available options for her pregnancy, including termination." According to The New Zealand Herald, the final version of the document is not available. A spokesman for the Medical Council said changes have been made since the release of the draft but the final text cannot be provided because of the ongoing court action.The case marks the first time the issue of personal beliefs and abortion has been addressed in Medical Council guidelines. The action follows a similar move in Britain.Guidelines also cover areas where spiritual, cultural or religious beliefs could conflict with what the Council considers to be patients’ rights. The rules say doctors should set aside their own beliefs where necessary and must make the care of the patient their first concern.Under New Zealand law, abortions can be performed only if two certifying consultants agree certain factors are present. According to the Herald, these factors include cases of incest or if the mental or physical well-being of the mother or unborn child is at risk.The country’s Abortion Supervisory Committee appoints the consultants who authorize abortions to take place. Pro-life groups and a High Court judge have questioned the legality of many of these authorized abortions.
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pro-life_doctors_challenge_proposed_new_zealand_abortion_guidelines/



TODAY'S SAINT


St. Polycarp
MARTYR AND BISHOP OF SMYRNA
Feast: February 23
Information:
Feast Day:
February 23
Born:
69
Died:
155 at Smyrna
Patron of:
against dysentery, against earache

From his acts, written by the church of Smyrna in an excellent circular letter to the churches of Pontus, immediately after his martyrdom, a niece abridged by Eusebius, b. 4, c. 14 highly esteemed by the ancients. Joseph Scaliger, a supercilious critic, says that nothing in the whole course of church history so strongly affected him as the perusal of these acts, and those relating to the martyrs of Lyons; that he never read them but they gave him extraordinary emotions. Animad. in Chron. Eusebii, n. 2183 &c. They are certainly most valuable pieces of Christian antiquity. See Eusebius, St. Jerome, and St. Irenaeus also Tillemont, t. 2, p. 327; Dom Ceillier, t. 1; Dom Marechal, Concordance des Peres; Grecs et Latins, t. 1. St Polycarp was one of the most illustrious of the apostolic fathers, who, being the immediate disciples of the apostles, received instructions from their mouths, and inherited of them the spirit of Christ in a degree so much the more eminent as they lived nearer the fountain head. He embraced Christianity very young, about the year 80, was a disciple of the apostles, in particular of St. John the Evangelist, and was constituted by him Bishop of Symrna, probably before his banishment to Patmos in 96, so that he governed that important see seventy years. He seems to have been the angel or bishop of Smyrna who was commended above all the bishops of Asia by Christ himself in the Apocalypse, and the only one without a reproach. Our Saviour encouraged him under his poverty, tribulation, and persecutions, especially the calumnies of the Jews, called him rich in grace, and promised him the crown of life by martyrdom. This saint was respected by the faithful to a degree of veneration. He formed many holy disciples, among whom were St. Irenaeus and Papias. When Florinus, who had often visited St. Polycarp, had broached certain heresies, St. Irenaeus wrote to him as follows: "These things were not taught you by the bishops who preceded us. I could tell you the place where the blessed Polycarp sat to preach the word of God. It is yet present to my mind with what gravity he everywhere came in and went out; what was the sanctity of his deportment, the majesty of his countenance and of his whole exterior, and what were his holy exhortations to the people. I seem to hear him now relate how he conversed with John and many others who had seen Jesus Christ; the words he had heard from their mouths. I can protest before God that if this holy bishop had heard of any error like yours, he would have immediately stopped his ears, and cried out, according to his custom, Good God! that I should be reserved to these times to hear such things! That very instant he would have fled out of the place in which he had heard such doctrine." St. Jerome mentions that St. Polycarp met at Rome the heretic Marcion in the streets, who resenting that the holy bishop did not take that notice of him which he expected, said to him, "Do you not know me, Polycarp?" "Yes," answered the saint, "I know you to be the firstborn of Satan." He had learned this abhorrence of the authors of heresy, who knowingly and willingly adulterate the divine truths, from his master, St. John, who fled out of the bath in which he saw Cerinthus. St. Polycarp kissed with respect the chains of St. Ignatius, who passed by Smyrna on the road to his martyrdom, and who recommended to our saint the care and comfort of his distant church of Antioch, which he repeated to him in a letter from Troas, desiring him to write in his name to those churches of Asia to which he had not leisure to write himself. St. Polycarp wrote a letter to the Philippians shortly after, which is highly commended by St. Irenaeus, St. Jerome, Eusebius, Photius, and others, and is still extant. It is justly admired both for the excellent instructions it contains and for the simplicity and perspicuity of the style, and was publicly read in the church in Asia in St. Jerome's time. In it he calls a heretic, as above, the eldest son of Satan. About the year 158 he undertook a journey of charity to Rome, to confer with Pope Anicetus about certain points of discipline, especially about the time of keeping Easter, for the Asiatic churches kept it on the fourteenth day of the vernal equinoctial moon, as the Jews did, on whatever day of the week it fell; whereas Rome, Egypt, and all the West observed it on the Sunday following. It was agreed that both might follow their custom without breaking the bands of charity. St. Anicetus, to testify his respect, yielded to him the honour of celebrating the Eucharist in his own church. We find no further particulars concerning our saint recorded before the acts of his martyrdom.
In the sixth year of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, Statius Quadratus being proconsul of Asia, a violent persecution broke out in that country, in which the faithful gave heroic proofs of their courage and love of God, to the astonishment of the infidels. When they were torn to pieces with scourges till their very bowels were laid bare, amidst the moans and tears of the spectators, who were moved with pity at the sight of their torments, not one of them gave so much as a single groan, so little regard had they for their own flesh in the cause of God. No kinds of torture, no inventions of cruelty, were forborne to force them to a conformity to the pagan worship of the times. Germanicus, who had been brought to Smyrna with eleven or twelve other Christians, signalised himself above the rest, and animated the most timorous to suffer. The proconsul in the amphitheatre called upon him with tenderness, entreated him to have some regard for his youth, and to value at least his life, but he, with a holy impatience, provoked the beasts to devour him, to leave this wicked world. One Quintus, a Phrygian, who had presented himself to the judge, yielded at the sight of the beast let out upon him, and sacrificed. The authors of these acts justly condemn the presumption of those who offered themselves to suffer, and say that the martyrdom of St. Polycarp was conformable to the gospel, because he exposed not himself to the temptation, but waited till the persecutors laid hands on him, as Christ our Lord taught us by his own example. The spectators, seeing the courage of Germanicus and his companions, and being fond of their impious bloody diversions, cried out, "Away with the impious! let Polycarp be sought for!" The holy man, though fearless, had been prevailed upon by his friends to withdraw and conceal himself in a neighbouring village during the storm, spending most of his time in prayer. Three days before his martyrdom, he in a vision saw his pillow on fire, from which he understood by revelation, and foretold his companions, that he should be burnt alive.
When the persecutors were in quest of him he changed his retreat, but was betrayed by a boy, who was threatened with the rack unless he discovered him. Herod, the Irenarch, or keeper of the peace, whose office it was to prevent misdemeanours and apprehend malefactors, sent horsemen by night to beset his lodgings. The saint was above stairs in bed, but refused to make his escape, saying, "God's will be done." He went down, met them at the door, ordered them a handsome supper, and sired only some time for prayer before he went with them. This granted, he began his prayer standing, which he continued in that posture for two hours, recommending to God his own flock and the whole church with so much earnestness and devotion that several of those that were come to seize him repented they had undertaken the commission. They set him on an ass, and were conducting him towards the city when he was met on the road by Herod and his father Nicetes, who took him into their chariot, and endeavoured to persuade him to a little compliance, saying, "What harm is there in saying Lord Caesar, or even in sacrificing, to escape death?" By the word Lord was meant nothing less than a kind of deity or godhead. The bishop at first was silent, in imitation of our Saviour, but being pressed, he gave them this resolute answer, "I shall never do what you desire of me." At these words, taking off the mask of friendship and compassion, they treated him with scorn and reproaches, and thrust him out of the chariot with such violence that his leg was bruised by the fall. The holy man went forward cheerfully to the place where the people were assembled. Upon his entering it a voice from heaven was heard by many, "Polycarp, be courageous, and act manfully." He was led directly to the tribunal of the proconsul, who exhorted him to respect his own age, to swear by the genius of Caesar, and to say, "Take away the impious," meaning the Christians. The saint, turning towards the people in the pit, said, with a stern countenance, "Exterminate the wicked," meaning by this expression either a wish that they might cease to be wicked by their conversion to the faith of Christ, or this was a prediction of the calamity which befel their city in 177, when Smyrna was overturned by an earthquake, as we read in Dionand Aristides. The proconsul repeated, "Swear by the genius of Caesar, and I discharge you; blaspheme Christ." Polycarp replied, "I have served him these fourscore and six years, and he never did me any harm, but much good, and how can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour? If you require of me to swear by the genius of Caesar, as you call it, hear my free confession- I am a Christian; but if you desire to learn the Christian religion, appoint a time, and hear me." The proconsul said, "Persuade the people." The martyr replied, "I addressed my discourse to you, for we are taught to give due honour to princes as far as is consistent with religion. But the populace is an incompetent judge to justify myself before." Indeed rage rendered them incapable of hearing him.
The proconsul then assuming a tone of severity, said: "I have wild beasts." "Call for them," replied the saint: "for we are unalterably resolved not to change from good to evil. It is only good to pass from evil to good." The proconsul said: "If you contemn the beasts, I will cause you to be burnt to ashes." Polycarp answered: "You threaten me with a fire which burns for a short time and then goes out, but are yourself ignorant of the judgment to come, and of the fire of everlasting torments which is prepared for the wicked. Why do you delay? Bring against me what you please." Whilst he said this and many other things, he appeared in a transport of joy and confidence, and his countenance shone with a certain heavenly grace and pleasant cheerfulness, insomuch that the proconsul himself was struck with admiration. However, he ordered a crier to make public proclamation three times in the middle of the Stadium (as was the Roman custom in capital cases): "Polycarp hath confessed himself a Christian." At this proclamation the whole multitude of Jews and Gentiles gave a great shout, the latter crying out, "This is the great teacher of Asia; the father of the Christians; the destroyer of our gods, who preaches to men not to sacrifice to or adore them." They applied to Philip the Asiarch to let loose a lion upon Polycarp. He told them that it was not in his power, because those shows had been closed. Then they unanimously demanded that he should be burnt alive. Their request was no sooner granted but every one ran with all speed to fetch wood from the baths and shops. The pile being prepared, Polycarp put off his garments, untied his girdle, and began to take off his shoes, an office he had not been accustomed to, the Christians having always striven who should do these things for him, regarding it as a happiness to be admitted to touch him. The wood and other combustibles were heaped all round him. The executioners would have nailed him to the stake; but he said to them: "Suffer me to be as I am. He who gives me grace to undergo this fire will enable me to stand still without that precaution." They therefore contented themselves with tying his hands behind his back, and in this posture looking up towards heaven, he prayed as follows: "O Almighty Lord God, Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee, God of angels, powers, and every creature, and of all the race of the just that live in thy presence! I bless thee for having been pleased in thy goodness to bring me to this hour, that I may receive a portion in the number of thy martyrs, and partake of the chalice of thy Christ, for the resurrection to eternal life, in the incorruptibleness of the holy Spirit. Amongst whom grant me to be received this day as a pleasing sacrifice, such an one as thou thyself hast prepared, that so thou mayest accomplish what thou, O true and faithful God! hast foreshown. Wherefore, for all things I praise, bless, and glorify thee, through the eternal high priest Jesus Christ, thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee and the Holy Ghost be glory now and for ever. Amen." He had scarce said Amen when fire was set to the pile, which increased to a mighty flame. But behold a wonder, say the authors of these acts, seen by us reserved to attest it to others; the flames forming themselves into an arch, like the sails of a ship swelled with the wind, gently encircled the body of the martyr, which stood in the middle, resembling not roasted flesh, but purified gold or silver, appearing bright through the flames; and his body sending forth such a fragrancy that we seemed to smell precious spices. The blind infidels were only exasperated to see his body could not be consumed, and ordered a spearman to pierce him through, which he did, and such a quantity of blood issued out of his left side as to quench the fire. The malice of the devil ended not here: he endeavoured to obstruct the relics of the martyr being carried off by the Christians; for many desired to do it, to show their respect to his body. Therefore, by the suggestion of Satan, Nicetes advised the proconsul not to bestow it on the Christians, lest, said he, abandoning the crucified man, they should adore Polycarp: the Jews suggested this, "Not knowing," say the authors of the acts, "that we can never forsake Christ, nor adore any other, though we love the martyrs, as his disciples and imitators, for the great love they bore their king and master." The centurion, seeing a contest raised by the Jews, placed the body in the middle, and burnt it to ashes. "We afterwards took up the bones," say they, "more precious than the richest jewels or gold, and deposited them decently in a place at which may God grant us to assemble with joy, to celebrate the birthday of the martyr." Thus these disciples and eye-witnesses. It was at two o'clock in the afternoon, which the authors of the acts call the eighth hour, in the year 166, that St. Polycarp received his crown, according to Tillemont; but in 169, according to Basnage.1 His tomb is still shown with great veneration at Smyrna, in a small chapel. St. Irenaeus speaks of St. Polycarp as being of an uncommon age.
The epistle of St. Polycarp to the Philippians, which is the only one among those which he wrote that has been preserved, is, even in the dead letter, a standing proof of the apostolic spirit with which he was animated, and of that profound humility, perfect meekness, burning charity, and holy zeal, of which his life was so admirable an example. The beginning is an effusion of spiritual joy and charity with which he was transported at the happiness of their conversion to God, and their fervor in divine love. His extreme abhorrence of heresy makes him immediately fall upon that of the Docaetae against which he arms the faithful, by clearly demonstrating that Christ was truly made man, died, and rose again: in which his terms admirably express his most humble and affectionate devotion to our divine Redeemer, under these great mysteries of love. Besides walking in truth, he takes notice, that to be raised with Christ in glory, we must also do his will, keep all his commandments, and love whatever he loved; refraining from all fraud, avarice, detraction, and rash judgment; repaying evil with good forgiving and showing mercy to others that we ourselves may find mercy. "These things," says he, "I write to you on justice, because you incited me; for neither I, nor any other like me, can attain to the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, into whose epistles if you look, you may raise your spiritual fabric by strengthening faith, which is our mother, hope following, and charity towards God, Christ, and our neighbor preceding us. He who has charity is far from all sin." The saint gives short instructions to every particular state, then adds, "Every one who hath not confessed that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist; and who hath not confessed the suffering of the cross, is of the devil; and who hath drawn the oracles of the Lord to his passions, and hath said that there is no resurrection nor judgment, he is the oldest son of Satan." He exhorts to watching always in prayer, lest we be led into temptation; to be constant in fasting, persevering, joyful in hope, and in the pledge of our justice, which is Christ Jesus, imitating his patience; for, by suffering for his name, we glorify him. To encourage them to suffer, he reminds them of those who had suffered before their eyes: Ignatius, Zozimus, and Rufus, and some of their own congregation, "who are now," says our saint, "in the place which is due to them with the Lord, with whom they also suffered."SOURCEhttp://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stpolycarp.asp





TODAY'S GOSPEL



Matthew 6: 7 - 15
7
"And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9
Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
11
Give us this day our daily bread;
12
And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;
13
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
14
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;
15
but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
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