Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saint Polycarp

Yesterday I was confirmed as Polycarp. I chose him as my patron saint. We were required to write a paper detailing why we chose our particular saint. Here is mine:

When I introduce my fiddle teacher, I usually mention that one of his former students went on to play with Bill Monroe. Similarly, St. Polycarp’s disciples or successors include St. Irenaeus. Of course he was also a direct convert of and successor to Saint John the disciple whom Jesus loved. (Not bad names to have on your resume if you were applying for a job as priest somewhere). Apparently the Church thought so as well since he was ordained as bishop of Smyrna by St. John himself. This clear and well documented ordination is strong evidence for apostolic succession.

The first early church father document I ever read was St. Polycarp’s epistle to the Philippians. It was evident how filled with the Holy Spirit he was. Saint Polycarp echoes St. Paul & Christ in acknowledging that the Law & Prophets are summarized by the golden rule when he says “he that hath love is far from all sin”. This teaching has always been particularly powerful to me and has helped me understand that our God is a God of “do’s” not a God of “don’ts”. Sure, there are plenty of things we are not to do, but as St. Polycarp says – it’s impossible to be doing evil when you’re following the law of love.

Aside from my initial connection with him in this sense, I also chose him because he is only one degree of separation from Christ Himself. I identify with this because I am particularly interested in the early church and in orthodoxy. It hard to get more Orthodox than St. Polycarp.

Another reason why I chose Saint Polycarp is because he was one of the great martyrs of the faith. Not only did he boldly proclaim Christ under the most demanding and trying of situations, but he willingly accepted taking his portion of the suffering of Christ. His martyrdom was witnessed by many of the faithful who attested in writing to the miraculous signs that accompanied it. It is my prayer that I may one day be counted worthy to be martyred for Christ as well.

In conclusion, I choose Saint Polycarp as my patron saint and ask him to pray on my behalf so that I might be able to live a life pleasing to God.

Additionally, here are a couple interesting links on Polycarp: Catholic Encyclopedia - St. Polycarp & Polycarp Video.

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