Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, Fathers of the Church, LENT, Quotes of the Saints, Saint of the Day

LENTEN REFLECTION – The Second Week- Saturday 18 March

LENTEN REFLECTION – The Second Week- Saturday 18 March
St Cyril of Jerusalem,  (315-386)
Father and Doctor of the Church

The symbolic meaning of the sacrament of baptism as sharing in Christ’s passion according to Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop of Jerusalem in the middle of the fourth century and one of the most important sources we have for how the church celebrated the sacraments during that era.  In his Jerusalem Catechesis from which this excerpt comes, St. Cyril instructs new Christians in the days immediately before and after their initiation into the life of the Church at the Easter Vigil.

You were led down to the font of holy baptism just as Christ was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb which is before your eyes.   Each of you was asked, “Do you believe in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?”   You made the profession of faith that brings salvation, you were plunged into the water and three times you rose again.   This symbolized the three days Christ spent in the tomb.

As our Saviour spent three days and three nights in the depths of the earth, so your first rising from the water represented the first day and your first immersion represented the first night.   At night a man cannot see but in the day he walks in the light.   So when you were immersed in the water it was like night for you and you could not see but when you rose again it was like coming into broad daylight.   In the same instant you died and were born again; the saving water was both your tomb and your mother.



Solomon’s phrase in another context is very apposite here.   He spoke of a time to give birth and a time to die.   For you, however, it was the reverse: a time to die and a time to be born, although in fact both events took place at the same time and your birth was simultaneous with your death.

This is something amazing and unheard of!    It was not we who actually died, were buried and rose again.   We only did these things symbolically but we have been saved in actual fact.   It is Christ who was crucified, who was buried and who rose again and all this has been attributed to us.   We share in His sufferings symbolically and gain salvation in reality.   What boundless love for men!   Christ’s undefiled hands were pierced by the nails; he suffered the pain.   I experience no pain, no anguish, yet by the share that I have in his sufferings he freely grants me salvation.

Let no one imagine that baptism consists only in the forgiveness of sins and in the grace of adoption.   Our baptism is not like the baptism of John, which conferred only the forgiveness of sins.   We know perfectly well that baptism, besides washing away our sins and bringing us the gift of the Holy Spirit, is a symbol of the sufferings of Christ.   This is why Paul exclaims: Do you not know that when we were baptised into Christ Jesus we were, by that very action, sharing in his death?    By baptism we went with him into the tomb.

These words of St. Cyril of Jerusalem on the symbolic meaning of the sacrament of baptism, a symbol of Christ’s passion, are read in the Roman Catholic liturgy’s Office of Readings on the Thursday in the Octave of Easter (Cat. 21 Mystagogica 3, 1-3 PG 33. 1087-1091) with the accompanying biblical reading of I Peter 3:1-17.




Posted in Fathers of the Church, Morning Prayers, Quotes of the Saints, Saint of the Day, Uncategorized

Thought for the Day – 23 February

Thought for the Day – 23 February

We may not be required to give our lives for our faith but we all have to suffer something for our beliefs and our fidelity. It is when things are difficult that faith is really faith. A faith that is good only in good times is scarcely faith at all. We are all called to witness to our faith in some way.   Polycarp was recognised as a Christian leader by all Asia Minor Christians—a strong fortress of faith and loyalty to Jesus Christ.   His own strength emerged from his trust in God, even when events contradicted this trust.   Living among pagans and under a government opposed to the new religion, he led and fed his flock.   Like the Good Shepherd, he laid down his life for his sheep and kept them from more persecution in Smyrna.   He summarised his trust in God just before he died: “Father… I bless Thee, for having made me worthy of the day and the hour…” (Acts of Martyrdom, Chapter 14).



Posted in Fathers of the Church, Morning Prayers, Quotes of the Saints, Saint of the Day, Uncategorized

Quote/s of the Day – 23 February

Quote/s of the Day – 23 February

“Eighty and six years have I served Christ,
nor has He ever done me any harm.
How, then, could I blaspheme my King who saved Me?….
I bless Thee for deigning me worthy of this day
and this hour that I may be among Thy martyrs
and drink the cup of my Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Let us, therefore, foresake the vanity of the crowd
and their false teachings and turn back to the word
delivered to us from the beginning.”

“You threaten me with fire which burns for an hour
and after a little is extinguished
but are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment
and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly.”

~~~~~ St Polycarp


Posted in Fathers of the Church, Morning Prayers, Quotes of the Saints, Saint of the Day, The Word

One Minute Reflection – 23 February

One Minute Reflection – 23 February

There is a time and judgment for everything………Eccl 8:6

REFLECTION – “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

PRAYER – God of goodness, let me never allow an opportunity for good to be wasted. Help me take advantage of every moment at my disposal to do good.   St Polycarp pray for us, amen.


Posted in Fathers of the Church, Morning Prayers, Prayers of the Saints, Uncategorized

Our Morning Offering – 23 February

Our Morning Offering – 23 February

St Polycarp’s Prayer

May God the Father
and the Eternal High Priest Jesus Christ,
build us up in faith and truth and love
and grant to us our portion among the saints
with all those who believe on our Lord Jesus Christ.
We pray for all saints,
for kings and rulers,
for the enemies of the Cross of Christ
and for ourselves we pray
that our fruit may abound
and we may be made perfect
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen


Posted in Fathers of the Church, Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day – 23 February – St Polycarp of Smyrna

Saint of the Day – 23 February – St Polycarp of Smyrna – (69-156) – Martyr, Apostolic Church Father and Bishop of Smyrna, Writer, Preacher, Theologian – Patron against dysentery and earache.

Polycarp is regarded as a saint and Church Father in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. His name ‘Polycarp’ means ‘much fruit’ in Greek.

It is recorded by Irenaeus, who heard him speak in his youth, and by Tertullian, that he had been a disciple of John the Apostle.    Saint Jerome wrote that Polycarp was a disciple of John and that John had ordained him bishop of Smyrna.

With Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers.   The sole surviving work attributed to his authorship is his Letter to the Philippians; it is first recorded by Irenaeus of Lyons.

According to St Irenaeus, Polycarp was a companion of Papias, another “hearer of John” as Irenaeus interprets Papias’ testimony and a correspondent of Ignatius of Antioch.   Ignatius addressed a letter to him, and mentions him in his letters to the Ephesians and to the Magnesians.

Irenaeus regarded the memory of Polycarp as a link to the apostolic past. He relates how and when he became a Christian, and in his letter to Florinus stated that he saw and heard Polycarp personally in lower Asia. Irenaeus wrote to Florinus:

“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 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.”

In particular, he heard the account of Polycarp’s discussion with John and with others who had seen Jesus.   Irenaeus also reports that Polycarp was converted to Christianity by apostles, was consecrated a bishop and communicated with many who had seen Jesus.   He repeatedly emphasizes the very great age of Polycarp.   Polycarp kissed the chains of Ignatius when he passed by Smyrna on the road to Rome for his martyrdom.

Polycarp occupies an important place in the history of the early Christian Church.   He is among the earliest Christians whose writings survived.   Saint Jerome wrote that Polycarp was a “disciple of the apostle John and by him ordained bishop of Smyrna”.   He was an elder of an important congregation which was a large contributor to the founding of the Christian Church.
Irenaeus, who had heard him preach in his youth, said of him: “a man who was of much greater weight and a more steadfast witness of truth, than Valentinus and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics”. Polycarp had learned from apostle John to flee from those who change the divine truth. One day he met in the streets of Rome the heretic Marcion who, resenting that Polycarp did not greet him, said: “Do you know me?” The saint replied: “Yes, I know you, the first-born of Satan.”    Polycarp lived in an age after the deaths of the apostles, when a variety of interpretations of the sayings of Jesus were being preached.   His role was to authenticate orthodox teachings through his reputed connection with the apostle John: “a high value was attached to the witness Polycarp could give as to the genuine tradition of old apostolic doctrine”, Wace commented, “his testimony condemning as offensive novelties the figments of the heretical teachers”.   Irenaeus states (iii. 3) that on Polycarp’s visit to Rome, his testimony converted many disciples of Marcion and Valentinus.

The story of Polycarp’s martyrdom is the earliest recorded account of a Christian martyr. Polycarp was seized for being a Christian.   Persecution and death would not tear him away from Jesus now.   Polycarp was led into the stadium of Smyrna.   The crowd demanded that he be left to the lions, but instead he was sentenced to death by fire.   An eyewitness account claims that the flames didn’t harm him.   He was finally killed by the sword, and his body was burned.

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.