Today is the Feast of St. Polycarp. Father Steve offers his reflection on this early Christian martyr, the political situation in Rome at the time of his life and witness, and the urgency of his message for Christians of our current age, persecuted or otherwise.
(Also, be sure to read Ellyn von Huben's review of Brant Pitre's new book on the blog today.)
The Church remembers the witness of Saint Polycarp today, who was killed because he would not renounce his faith in the Lord Jesus in the year 155 AD.
Saint Polycarp was a victim of the brutal persecution of the Church by the Roman Empire, which afflicted the faithful for the first few centuries of the Church’s life.
Polycarp was an elderly man when he died, so old that he had personally known the Apostle John. Saint Irenaeus mentions Polycarp’s relationship with the Apostle John, noting that Polycarp, who knew John, was his own teacher and mentor.
The account of Polycarp’s martyrdom has the saint making this appeal to the Roman magistrate who had offered to spare the elderly saint if he would just place a pinch of incense in a brazier burning before a statue of Caesar: “Eighty six years I have served Christ, how then can I blaspheme my king and Savior"...
Father Steve comments on the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, reflecting upon the role of St. Peter in the mission of the Church as well as the apostolic succession that ensures that the Church is continuously led by one who "knows who Christ is."
Today the Church celebrates a curiously named feast called “the Chair of Saint Peter.”
The “chair” references an actual piece of furniture that is encased in a monumental sculpture by Bernini located in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica. The sculpture depicts an enormous throne held loft by four great saints of the Church- Saint Ambrose, Augustine, Athanasius and John Chysostom. The throne is actually a reliquary that holds a wooden chair that is reputed to have been used by the Apostle Peter himself and is therefore invested with significance as a symbol of the apostle’s authority.
This week's edition of Our Sunday Visitor featured an article from Father Barron regarding the way in which powerful spiritual truths are often conveyed by flawed human vessels. These vessels, then, can be effectively used the in work of evangelization.
Some weeks ago, I gave a sermon in which I mentioned Keith Richards, the lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones. I recounted how struck I was by a passage from Richards’ autobiography,“Life,” in which the guitarist described the almost maniacal dedication with which he and his bandmates set out to learn Chicago blues. “Benedictines,” he said, “had nothing on us.”
I urged my listeners to approach their spiritual lives with the same “Benedictine” focus and fervor that the young Rolling Stones had in regard to the blues.
Sunday, February 20, 2011,
WGN America: Word on Fire with Father Robert Barron features the last portion of Father Barron's Conversion series which is the Journey of the Magi. In addition, the program will showcase an "Answering the Skeptics" Q&A video with Father Barron and Mike Leonard wherein they speak about the Mass. Watch this video on today's blog post.
Be sure to tune in Sunday at 9:30 am EST and 9:30 am on the local Chicago affiliate.