Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of Saint John. He wrote to the Philippians, exhorting them to mutual love and to hatred of heresy. When the apostate Marcion met Saint Polycarp at Rome, he asked the aged Saint if he knew him. “Yes,” Saint Polycarp answered, “I know you for the first-born of Satan.” These were the words of a Saint, most loving and most charitable, and specially noted for his compassion to sinners. He abhorred heresy, because he loved God and man so well.
In 167AD persecution broke out in Smyrna. When Polycarp heard that his pursuers were at the door, he said, “The Will of God be done;” and meeting them, he begged to be left alone for a little time, which he spent in prayer for the Catholic Church throughout the world. He was brought to Smyrna early on Holy Saturday; and as he entered, a voice was heard from heaven, “Polycarp, be strong.” When the proconsul urged him to curse Christ and go free, Polycarp answered, “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never did me wrong; how can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?” When he threatened him with fire, Polycarp told him this fire of his lasted but a short time, while the fire prepared for the wicked lasted forever.
At the stake he thanked God aloud for letting him drink of Christ’s chalice. The fire was lighted, but it did him no harm; therefore he was stabbed to the heart, and his dead body was burnt. “Then,” say the writers of his acts, “we took up the bones, more precious than the richest jewels or gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, at which may God grant us to assemble with joy, to celebrate the birthday of the martyr to his life in Heaven!”
INTROIT Daniel 3. 84, 87
O ye priests of the Lord, bless the Lord: O ye holy and humble of heart, praise God. (Daniel 3: 57) All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt Him above all for ever v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat O ye priests of the Lord…
O God, who givest us joy by the annual solemnity of blessed Polycarp Thy martyr and bishop, mercifully grant that we may rejoice in his protection whose birthday we celebrate. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
EPISTLE 2 Timothy 4: 1-8
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Brethren: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we also may jbe able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound. Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer. That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 36: 30, 31
Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor. V. And hast set him over the works of Thy hands, O Lord. Alleluia, alleluia. V. This is the priest whom the Lord hath crowned. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew: 16. 24-27
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For he that will save his life shall lose it : and he that shall lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels: and then will He render to every man according to his works.’
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 88: 21,22
I have found David My servant, with My holy oil I have anointed him; for my hand shall help him, and My arm shall strengthen him.
Sanctify, O Lord, the offerings devoted to Thee, and appeased by the intercession of blessed Polycarp Thy martyr and bishop, and likewise by this sacrifice, look favorably upon us. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Psalm 20: 4
Thou has set on his head, O Lord, a crown of precious stones.
Refreshed by the participation in the holy gift, we beseech Thee, O Lord our God, that by the intercession of blessed Polycarp Thy martyr and bishop, we may experience the effect of that which we celebrate. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.