23 Feb – Memorial for St. Polycarp, bishop and martyr
St. Polycarp (69-155) was an associate of, converted by, and disciple of St. John the Apostle. He was a friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and he fought Gnosticism. He was the Bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey), and was a revered Christian leader during the first half of the second century.
The Asia Minor churches recognized Polycarp’s leadership and chose him representative to Pope Anicetus on the question of the date of the Easter celebration. Only one of the many letters written by Polycarp has survived — the one he wrote to the Church of Philippi, Macedonia.
At 86, Polycarp was to be burned alive in a stadium in Smyrna, but the flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger, and his body burned. The ‘Acts’ of Polycarp’s martyrdom are the earliest preserved reliable account of a Christian martyr’s death. He is considered an Apostolic Father of the Church.
– Patron Saint Index
If it is the Lord’s will…
Last year, I watched a drama featuring the lives of our Muslim brothers and sisters, and I must say that it helped me reflect on how much I surrender myself to God’s will. I couldn’t count the number of times the characters uttered the phrases ‘May God’s will be done,’ ‘God’s will is the greatest,’ ‘If it’s what God wills.’ They said these phrases so frequently and so devoutly, with so much reverence — I could really see that they lived every moment of their lives with awareness of God’s presence.
I’ve also had several encounters with very devout Muslims. All those encounters were very humbling for me. When they said that they would pray for me, I could feel that it was coming from their heart. When they wished for God to bless me, I could feel that it was not just some passing remark. And when I heard them say ‘Trust God’, I could feel that there was a total surrender.
So the question on my mind is that how can we, as Catholics, say these phrases and sound sincere, instead of sounding hackneyed? To borrow a contemporary phrase, how can we normalise saying these, and truly make these a part of our daily lives?
I must admit that it might need some getting used to. After all, we Catholics are known to be able to live double lives — which is evident in phrases such as ‘Sunday Catholics,’ and ‘Cafeteria Catholics.’ I recall one instance when I was talking to uncles about believing and trusting in God. I must have said ‘God’ so many times when it was not a Sunday that he asked me if I had become a non-Catholic Christian!
How should a Catholic really live his life? When, in a Catholic’s life, is it a time for God? When should we abandon ourselves to God’s Holy Will?
All the time. A Catholic should live his life surrendering to God’s will all the time.
The Our Father is one of the first prayers we learn as kids. Immediately after praising and glorifying God, the next line is ‘Thy Will be done.’ Prayers catechize. By learning the ‘Our Father’, we learn early on that we need to surrender our lives to God. I’m sure it will take a lifetime for us to really live our lives with total surrender to God.
So for today’s prayer, I ask that we pray the Our Father, with deep focus on the words ‘Thy Will be done.’
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for the events of today. And thank you for allowing your Will to be done because Your Will is the best.
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