Readings
for the Memorial of

St Polycarp
Bishop and Martyr
February 23


MASS


From the Common of Martyrs: For One Martyr or from the Common of Pastors: For a Bishop


COLLECT
God of all creation,
who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp
a place in the company of the Martyrs,
grant, through his intercession,
that, sharing with him in the chalice of Christ,
we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


FIRST READING          Revelation 2:8-11
"To the angel of the Church in Smyrna, write this:

"'The first and the last, who once died but came to life, says this:
"I know your tribulation and poverty, but you are rich.
I know the slander of those who claim to be Jews and are not,
but rather are members of the assembly of Satan.
Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer.
Indeed, the Devil will throw some of you into prison,
that you may be tested,
and you will face an ordeal for ten days.
Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

"'"Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The victor shall not be harmed by the second death."'"


RESPONSORIAL PSALM                    Ps. 31:3-4, 6, 7, 8, 17, 21
In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum.

R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Incline your ear to me; make haste to rescue me!
Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to save me.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name's sake lead and guide me.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
You hate those who serve worthless idols,
but I trust in the LORD
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
I will rejoice and be glad in your love,
once you have seen my misery, observed my distress.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your kindness.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
You hide us in the shelter of your presence,
safe from scheming enemies.
You keep us in your abode,
safe from plotting tongues.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.


ALLELUIA          Te Deum
Te deum laudamus, te Dominum confitemur. Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus laudat.
We praise you, O God, we acclaim you as Lord;
the glorious company of apostles praise you.


GOSPEL          John 15:18-21
Jesus said to his disciples:
"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you,
'No slave is greater than his master.'
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me."


Liturgy of the Hours
St. Polycarp

From the Common of One Martyr or of Pastors, except the following:

Morning Prayer


BENEDICTUS (Canticle of Zechariah)
Antiphon: For eighty-six years I have served Jesus Christ and he has never abandoned me. How can I curse my blessed King and Savior?


COLLECT
God of all creation,
who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp
a place in the company of the Martyrs,
grant, through his intercession,
that, sharing with him in the chalice of Christ,
we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Evening Prayer


MAGNIFICAT (Canticle of Mary)
Antiphon: Lord, mighty God, I give you praise, for you have counted me worthy to be among your martyrs, who drink of the cup of Christ's sufferings.


COLLECT
God of all creation,
who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp
a place in the company of the Martyrs,
grant, through his intercession,
that, sharing with him in the chalice of Christ,
we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Office of Readings



From a letter on the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp by the Church of Smyrna
(Cap. 13,2-15,2; Funk 1, 297-299)

A rich and pleasing sacrifice
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 honor 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”.

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.


RESPONSORY       Revelation 2:8-9,10
To the angel of the Church of Smyrna write this:
Thus says the Lord, the first and the last,
the one who was dead and now lives:
I know your suffering and your poverty,
but you are rich indeed!
 - Be true to your faith until death,
and I will give you the crown of life.

Have no fear of the suffering you will have to endure.
The devil will send some of you to prison to be tested.
 - Be true to your faith until death,
and I will give you the crown of life.


COLLECT
God of all creation,
who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp
a place in the company of the Martyrs,
grant, through his intercession,
that, sharing with him in the chalice of Christ,
we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


The English translation of Psalm Responses, Alleluia Verses, Gospel Verses from Lectionary for Mass 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL); the English translation of Antiphons, Invitatories, Responsories, Intercessions, Psalm 95, the Canticle of the Lamb, Psalm Prayers, Non-Biblical Readings from The Liturgy of the Hours 1973, 1974, 1975, ICEL; excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved. Used with permission.



 
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