Wednesday, February 03, 2010


"Hope is the virtue by which we firmly trust that God, who is all-powerful and faithful to His promises, will in His mercy give us eternal happiness and the means to obtain it.

"Hope is absolutely necessary for salvation; adults must have the virtue and make the act of hope; infants must have the virtue. For the infused virtue of hope, like the infused virtue of faith, is given to the infant when he receives sanctifying grace." (1)


St. Polycarp , Bishop of Smyrna and Martyr
Feast Day - February 23
69 A.D. to 155 A.D.
Patron of persons suffering from earaches and dysentery

St. Polycarp can be our model for hope. He led a long life always knowing that the Lord would stand beside him and provide him with the graces to remain faithful to his priesthood, the Church, and to the Lord.

St. Polycarp had been a disciple of the Apostle St. John and of "those who had seen the Lord."   When he was 86 years of age he responded to those who commanded that he deny Christ, "For the 86 years I have served him, He has never done me any ill; how can I blaspheme by Saviour and my King?" 

His captors had planned to bind him to the stake with chains, when he called out, "Leave me as I am.  He who has given me chance to suffer for Him will give me strength; he will soften the violence of the fire and will make me able to bear its heat."    He was burned at the stake, but he was not burned.  His enemies had to kill him by stabbing him. (2)

Writings of the early fathers include those of St. Irenaeus who tells us this about St. Polycarp:

"He was not only taught by the Apostles, and lived in familiar intercourse with many that had seen Christ, but also received his appointment in Asia from the Apostles as Bishop in the Church of Smyrna."  He then goes on to speak of his own personal acquaintance with Polycarp, his martyrdom, and his visit to Rome, where he converted many heretics. He then continues, "there are those who heard him tell how John, the disciple of the Lord, when he went to take a bath in Ephesus, and saw Cerinthus within, rushed away from the room without bathing, with the words 'Let us flee lest the room should fall in, for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within'. Yea, and Polycarp himself, also, when on one occasion Marcion confronted him and said 'Recognise us', replied, 'Ay, ay, I recognise the first-born of Satan'".  (3)


"God of Angels, who hast destroyed sin and will one day destroy death,  I bless you that you have judged me worthy  to approach the cup of your passion with my lips.  My sacrifice then is almost consummated; before day is done I shall see the fulfilment of your promises.  May your adorable name be ever glorified through Jesus Christ, eternal priest, in the unity of the Holy Ghose.  Amen." 

St. Polycarp's prayer at the stake. (4)


Psalm 42:11

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 71:5

For you, O Lord, are my hope,my trust, O Lord, from my youth.

Romans 8:25

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Romans 12:12

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Colossians 1:3-5,27

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Titus 2:11-13

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.


(1) Understanding the Catholic Faith, Rev. John A. O'Brien, 1955

(2) The Lives of the Saints by Omer Englebert, 1951/ Page 37
(3) Op cit.

(4) Op cit.


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