Catholic Tradition News Letter B4: Holy Eucharist, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, St Polycarp

Vol 13 Issue 4 ~
 Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
January 25, 2020 ~Conversion of Saint Paul

1.      What is the Holy Eucharist
2.      Third Sunday after Epiphany
3.      Saint Polycarp
4.      Family and Marriage
5.      Articles and notices
Dear Reader:

Justice and injustice, fair and unfair, love and hate, like and dislike—these words are tossed around very frequently and sometimes in a confusing way. Ultimately justice cannot be equated with fairness nor love with like. Justice is a requirement, which means one cannot cheat in a game; fairness is the balance between the opponents. Fairness is generally never achieved if a man is competing with a woman in a game requiring strength. Justice is never achieved if there is cheating such as if the man claims to be a woman to be in a women’s competition (he is lying plain and simple). Love is giving to the other by a choice even when one dislikes the gift of oneself but does so because one ought to give of oneself to the other (such as a child listening to one’s parents); like is where one does something because there is a pleasing benefit and would not do it otherwise (such as eating ice cream because of the pleasing taste, but not eating vegetables because of the displeasing taste).

This differentiation should be acknowledged in one’s choice of words but should also be seen in the choice of words others use to judge whether the choice of words is a correct choice of words. Unfortunately, though, most times these words are mixed or the accusation is denied in the incorrect use of a word because one, today, can interpret the definition no longer on absolutes, that is objective reality corresponding to God’s Word, but on subjective perceptions corresponding to what one wants the word to mean at the moment. This was shown the other day when a supposed Catholic woman stated that she did not hate another person, but then insists that that person should forever suffer; that is, she wished evil on the other person—yet implies she loves that person. As a Catholic, one can seek justice, one can express one does not like another person, but one cannot want evil to happen to another—and definitely not forever—and then say they love them. Rather, one understands that one must still give what one ought to the one disliked if one wants to love the other. These are the words in the Epistle of Saint Paul last Sunday and this Sunday:

Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. . . . To no man rendering evil for evil. Providing good things, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. (Rom. 14, 17-20)

The example that is sometimes displayed by the world in political theaters is not justice, and certainly is not love; it is basically but the reactions of emotions uncontrolled, of means justified by an unjust end. May Catholics not imbibe this deadly poison of hate—but neither let them believe it is hate when justice is sought—that is, simply because one does not like it. As was said last week in the commentary, some people say you hate if you do not let a mother kill her baby as though you should love killing babies. One may not like having to accept that their act brought (the blessing of) a child into this world, but love means one ought to give that child life (and a loving home), not death.

As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor



By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier



Old Testament Prefigurements of the Holy Eucharist

Old Testament Sacrifices

The Lamb

Mark 14:1-17

Now the feast of the pasch, and of the Azymes was after two days; and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might by some wile lay hold on him, and kill him. But they said: Not on the festival day, lest there should be a tumult among the people. And when he was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, and was at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of precious spikenard: and breaking the alabaster box, she poured it out upon his head. Now there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said: Why was this waste of the ointment made? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and given to the poor. And they murmured against her. But Jesus said: Let her alone, why do you molest her? She hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you: and whensoever you will, you may do them good: but me you have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done, shall be told for a memorial of her. And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them. Who hearing it were glad; and they promised him they would give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him. Now on the first day of the unleavened bread, when they [the Galileans] sacrificed the pasch [lamb must be consumed same day], the disciples say to him: Whither wilt thou that we go, and prepare for thee to eat the pasch? And he sendeth two of his disciples, and saith to them: Go ye into the city; and there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water, follow him; And whithersoever he shall go in, say to the master of the house, The master saith, Where is my refectory, where I may eat the pasch with my disciples? And he will shew you a large dining room furnished; and there prepare ye for us. And his disciples went their way, and came into the city; and they found as he had told them, and they prepared the pasch. And when evening was come, he cometh with the twelve [Judas, therefore, did not where, to inform the priests].

Luke 22:1-15

Now the feast of unleavened bread, which is called the pasch, was at hand. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put Jesus to death: but they feared the people. And Satan entered into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve. And he went, and discoursed with the chief priests and the magistrates, how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised. And he sought opportunity to betray him in the absence of the multitude. And the day of the unleavened bread came, on which it was necessary that the pasch should be killed [for the Galileans]. And he sent Peter and John, saying: Go, and prepare for us the pasch, that we may eat. But they said: Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said to them: Behold, as you go into the city, there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water [a sign he was an Essenian]: follow him into the house where he entereth in. And you shall say to the goodman of the house: The master saith to thee, Where is the guest chamber, where I may eat the pasch with my disciples? And he will shew you a large dining room, furnished; and there prepare. And they going, found as he had said to them, and made ready the pasch. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said to them: With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you, before I suffer.


Before the festival day of the pasch [of the Jews], Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And when supper was done, (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him,) Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he came from God, and goeth to God; He riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments, and having taken a towel, girded himself.

Only John refers to the Passover of the Jews, because he points the reader to see in the background a contrast: the Jews worried about preparing for a festival that had no meaning except in the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God while they were, at the same time, sacrificing the true Paschal Lamb. The other Evangelists want the readers to see the Lamb of God offering Himself Who was typified in the sacrifice of the Passover lamb—all speaking of the institution of the Holy Eucharist, which John seemingly omits in his Gospel, but vividly presents in his Apocalypse.

Saint Mark points to their sacrificing the lamb to be eaten as the pasch. The synoptic Evangelists all write it was Tuesday there was the dinner in Bethany and two days later the Passover Sacrifice celebrated. It is clear that Christ died on Friday. Again the Gospels:

Matthew 27:62-65

And the next day [after the Crucifixion], which followed the day of preparation [Friday], the chief priests and the Pharisees came together to Pilate, saying: Sir, we have remembered, that that seducer said, while he was yet alive: After three days I will rise again. Command therefore the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day: lest perhaps his disciples come and steal him away, and say to the people: He is risen from the dead; and the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate saith to them: You have a guard; go, guard it as you know.

Mark 15:42-43; 16:1-2

And when evening was now come, (because it was the Parasceve, that is, the day before the sabbath,) Joseph of Arimathea, a noble counsellor, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, came and went in boldly to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. . . .

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they come to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen.

Luke 23:50-56; 24:1-3

And behold there was a man named Joseph, who was a counsellor, a good and just man, (The same had not consented to their counsel and doings;) of Arimathea, a city of Judea; who also himself looked for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And taking him down, he wrapped him in fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre that was hewed in stone, wherein never yet any man had been laid. And it was the day of the Parasceve, and the sabbath drew on. And the women that were come with him from Galilee, following after, saw the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And returning, they prepared spices and ointments; and on the sabbath day they rested, according to the commandment.

And on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulchre. And going in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

John 18:28-30; 19:14-18, 31, 41-42; 20:1-2

Then they led Jesus from Caiphas to the governor’s hall. And it was morning; and they went not into the hall, that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the pasch. Pilate therefore went out to them, and said: What accusation bring you against this man? They answered, and said to him: If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee. . . .

And it was the parasceve of the pasch, about the sixth hour, and he saith to the Jews: Behold your king. But they cried out: Away with him; away with him; crucify him. Pilate saith to them: Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered: We have no king but Caesar. Then therefore he delivered him to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him forth. And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha. Where they crucified him . . . .

Then the Jews, (because it was the parasceve,) that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that was a great sabbath day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

Now there was in the place where he was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no man yet had been laid. There, therefore, because of the parasceve of the Jews, they laid Jesus, because the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre; and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre. She ran, therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith to them: They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

The Evangelists are in absolute agreement that on Thursday Christ held the Pasch with the Apostles; that on Friday Christ was crucified; and, that on Sunday Christ rose from the dead. Jeremias prophesied of Christ:

And I was as a meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim: and I knew not that they had devised counsels against me, saying: Let us put wood on his bread, and cut him off from the land of the living, and let his name be remembered no more. (Jer.11:19)

It is the understanding of the early Fathers of the Church. Saint Cyril writes:

Let us then not be ashamed of the Cross of our Saviour, but rather glory in it. For the word of the Cross is unto Jews a stumbling-block, and unto Gentiles foolishness, but to us salvation: and to them that are perishing it is foolishness, but unto us which are being saved it is the power of God. For it was not a mere man who died for us, as I said before, but the Son of God, God made man. Further; if the lamb under Moses drove the destroyer Exodus 12:23 far away, did not much rather the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world John 1:29, deliver us from our sins? The blood of a silly sheep gave salvation; and shall not the Blood of the Only-begotten much rather save? (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechism Instruction, Lesson 13, 3)

The Passover lamb, in which, according to which must be male, must be without blemish, to be sacrificed on the 14th of Nissan at 3:00 in the afternoon, the heart to be pierced, to not have a bone broken, and to be stripped to the flesh. The Passover meal was to be celebrated with unleavened bread and wine that had water mixed with it. These may be found in the Mishna, under Festivals in which one reads of the Passover(Pesachim, 5). The rite of questions—used to explain the reason of celebrating the Passover and keeping it observe properly are found in the four questions the youngest child was to ask (Ma Nishtana):

Why is this night different from all the other nights?

1.      That on all other nights we eat both chametz and matzah, on this night, we eat only matza.

2.      That on all other nights we eat many vegetables, on this night, maror (bitter herbs).          

3.      That in all other nights we do not dip vegetables even once, on this night, we dip twice.

4.      That in all other nights some eat sitting and others reclining, on this night, we are all reclining

The Mishna was a commentary in use by the Jews at the time of Christ. It gives one an understanding of the passages in the Gospels surrounding the Last Supper and the Passion and Crucifixion. It also provides a basis of how the Apostles would celebrate the Holy Eucharist in the early Church.

This being said, one can proceed to look at the Last Supper as Christ becoming the Paschal Sacrifice fulfilling the type and its continual reference:

Gloria:             O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: Who taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. . . .

Paschal Preface

It is fitting indeed and just, right and helpful; to our salvation for us always to praise Thee, O Lord; but more gloriously at this time above others when, Christ our Passover was sacrificed. For He is the true Lamb Who has taken away the sins of the world: Who by dying has destroyed our death; and by rising again has restored us to life.

Agnus Dei:      Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

Communion:   Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who takes away the sins of the world.

Nor was it unknown, for one reads of in 1 Kings, 7:9: And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it whole for a holocaust to the Lord: and Samuel cried to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord heard him. And Isaias (16:1): Send forth, O Lord, the lamb, the ruler of the earth, from Petra of the desert, to the mount of the daughter of Sion. Saint Paul insinuates the same when he writes: Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened; for Christ our pasch is sacrificed. (1 Cor. 5:7)

In the sacrifices of the Old Testament Meagher relates:

Christ was offered in a lamb to show his innocence, in a calf because of the merits of his cross, in a ram to foretell his government, in a goat for he bore our sins, in a pigeon and dove because of his two natures, or in a pigeon because of purity, and in a dove because of his love of man. (Meagher, 33)

(To be continued)


The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

M. F. Toal


Matthew viii: 1-13

At that time: When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him: and behold a leper came and adored Him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus stretching forth His hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him: see thou tell no man: but go, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. And when He had entered into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this, marvelled: and said to them that followed Him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the west and the east, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.


5. And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a Centurion, etc.

CHRYSOSTOM, Op. Imp. Hom. 21:After the Lord had taught the Disciples upon the mountain, and healed the leper at the foot of the mountain, He came to Capharnaum, as fulfilling a mystery; for after the cleansing of the Jews, He came to the Gentiles. HAYMO: For Capharnaum, which is interpreted as meaning seat of abundance, or a field of consolation, signifies the Church, which is gathered together from the Gentiles, and is filled with spiritual fatness, according to the words: let my soul be filled as with marrow and fatness (Ps. lxii. 6). And amid the distresses of the world She is comforted from on high, as the psalmist says: Thy comforts have given joy to my soul (Ps. xciii. 19). Hence is said: When he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion.

AUGUSTINE, De Verb. Dom. Sermi. 6: This centurion was from the Gentiles, for now the Jewish people had among them an army of Imperial Rome. CHRYSOSTOM, Op. Imp.: This Centurion was the first fruits of the Gentiles, in comparison with whose faith the faith of all the Jews is seen to be unfaith. He who neither heard Christ preaching, nor had seen the leper cleansed, having only heard about the leper, believed more than he heard. For he was a type of the future peoples, who had read neither the Law nor the Prophets concerning Christ, nor had seen Christ Himself performing miracles. He came therefore asking, and saying: Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented.

6. And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, etc.

See here the good heart of this Centurion, who hastened so anxiously to secure the healing of his servant, as if he were about to suffer, not a money loss by the death of his servant, but rather his own health. For he regarded not the difference between master and servant, for though in this world their dignity varies, yet are they one in nature. See too the faith of the Centurion, in that he said not: Come, and heal him; because the Lord being in every place was present there already; see his wisdom, since he said not: Even here heal him; for he knew that He had power to do so, wisdom to understand, mercy to hear. Accordingly he makes known the sickness; the restoring of health he leaves to the power of His mercy, saying: And is grievously tormented; from which it is clear that he loved him. For each one thinks that the loved one suffers more than he does, even though he be but moderately ill.

RABANUS MAURUS: He mentions all these things with grief: that he is lying ill, the palsy, the fact that he is tormented; that he may show the anxiety of his soul, and move the Lord. So ought all to suffer with their servants, and seek their cure. CHRYSOSTOM: Some however say that, excusing himself, he said this as the reason for not bringing him there; for it was not possible, paralysed as he was, to bring him. Luke said: He was at the point of death. But I say that this was a sign of great faith, even greater than theirs who let a sick man down through the roof For he knew with certainty that a simple word sufficed to heal him, and so it was superfluous to bring him.

HILARY in Matt. Ch. 27: As the infirm of this world, and as weakened by the contagion of sin, so must the Gentiles be spiritually regarded; all their members are relaxed, and unable to fulfil the tasks of standing and walking; the mystery of whose healing is prefigured in this servant of the Centurion, who is himself said to have been the first of the Gentiles to believe. Who this leader is the Canticle of Moses narrates, where it says: He appointed the bounds of people according to the number of the children of Israel (Deut. xxxii. 8).

REMIGIUS: Or, by the Centurion are signified those who were the first among the Gentiles to believe, and who were perfected in virtue; for he is called a Centurion who is placed over a hundred men, and the hundred is the perfect number. Rightly therefore does the Centurion plead for his servant, because the first fruits of the Gentiles plead before God for the salvation of all the Gentiles.

7. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him.

JEROME: The Lord seeing the faith of the Centurion, his humility and his concern, immediately promised that He will come and heal the servant; hence follows: And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 27 in Matt.: What He never did, Jesus does here: for everywhere He follows the will of His suppliants, here He goes beyond it, and not alone promises to heal, but also to go to the house. He does this that we may learn the virtue of the Centurion. CHRYSOSTOM, Op. Imp.: For unless He had said: I will come and heal him, never would this man have replied: I am not worthy. Then, since he was pleading for his servant, the Lord promised to go, that He might teach us not to flatter the great, and despise the lowly; but to honour alike both rich and poor.

8. And the Centurion making answer, said: Lord I am not worthy, etc.

JEROME: As we praise the faith of the Centurion, in that he believes that the paralytic could be healed by the Saviour, so also he reveals his own humility, in this, that he considered himself unworthy that the Lord should enter his house. Hence: And the Centurion making answer said: Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof.

RADANUS: Because of his awareness of what the life of the Gentile was, he considered himself shamed rather than helped by this honour; although he was endowed with faith he was yet not strengthened by the sacraments. AUGUSTINE, De Verb. Dom. Serm. 6: In saying he was not worthy he showed himself worthy that Christ the Word of the Lord should enter, not into his house, but into his heart. Neither would he have said this with such faith and humility unless he bore Him in his heart, of Whom he was here apprehensive lest He enter his house: for it would be no great joy should Jesus enter his house and not enter his heart.

SEVERIANUS (or CHRYSOLOGUS): Mystically this roof is the body which covers the soul, and closes in the mind from the vision of heaven. But God does not disdain to dwell within flesh, nor to enter under the roof of our body. ORIGEN: For even now when the rulers of the Church, holy and pleasing to God, enter under our roof, then through them the Lord enters; and let you regard it as though the Lord were entering. And when you eat and drink the Body and Blood of the Lord, then the Lord enters under your roof, and then, humbling yourself, repeat: Lord, I am not worthy. Where He enters a place that is not worthy, there He enters in judgement on the one so receiving Him.

JEROME: The wisdom of the Centurion is here apparent, seeing beyond the outward cloak of the Body, he discerns the veiled divinity: whence he adds: But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. CHRYSOSTOM, Ex. Op. Imp. 21: For he knew that ministering angels were invisibly standing by who would turn each word of His into work, and should the angels be still, the sickness would still be cast forth by his healing words.

9. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers, etc.

HILARY, in Matt. 7: The Centurion says that his servant could be healed by a word, because all salvation for the Gentiles is by faith, and the true life of all men is in the commandments of the Lord; and so he adds: For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers: and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

CHRYSOSTOM, Op. Imp. 21: Under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost he depicts here the mystery of the Father and the Son, as though he said: Although I am under the power of another, yet I have power to order those under me; so You also, although subject to the power of the Father, that is, as man, You have yet the power to command the angels. But perhaps Sabellius will say, seeking to show that the Father and the Son are the same [the same person], so must this be understood: If I, placed subject to authority, can yet command, how much more You, Who are under the power of no one? But the text does not support this interpretation. For he did not say: If l am subject to authority; but said: for I also am a man subject to authority; in which, between himself and Christ, he makes, not a distinction of contrast, but puts forward a basis of resemblance.

AUGUSTINE, as above: If l, who am subject to authority, have the power to order, what canst Thou do, to Whom all power is subject? GLOSS: Thou canst, by the ministry of angels, and without the presence of the body, say to the infirmity that it shall depart, and it departs: and to health, that it come, and it comes. HAYMO: By the subjects of the Centurion we may understand the natural virtues, in which many of the Gentiles were strong; or even good and evil thoughts. Let us say to the evil ones, that they go, and they will go, and let us call to us good thoughts, and they will come; let us say also to our servant, that is, to our body, that it be subject to the divine will.

AUGUSTINE, Harmony of the Gospels 11, 20: To what is here said there seems to be opposed that which Luke says: When he had heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the ancients of the Jews, desiring Him to come and heal his servant, and again: and when He was not far from the house, the Centurion sent his friends to Him, saying: Lord, trouble not thyself; for I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof. CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 27 in Matt.: Some say that this is not the same reason as that other: though they have points of resemblance. So, of the one Luke records: he loved our nation; and hath built us a synagogue: and of the other the Lord Himself said: Amen, I say to you, I have not found so great faith even in Israel; and accordingly it would seem he was not a Jew. To me however he seems one and the same person. But when Luke says that he sent that He might come, he is hinting at the flatteries of the Jews. It is possible that the Centurion wished to come, but was prevented by the flatteries of the Jews, and by their saying, “we shall go and bring Him”.

But when he is free of their importunity he then sends, saying: “do not think that it was through sloth that I have not come, but because I did not think that I was worthy to receive you under my roof”. And if Matthew says that he says this, not through his friends, but himself in person, this is not contradictory; for both bear witness to the eager desire of the man, and to the belief he had regarding Christ. But it seems probable, that after sending his friends, he himself also said this to Him as He approached. And if Luke does not say this, nor Matthew the other, they do not contradict each other, rather they fill up that which either may have omitted.



St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

1. St. Polycarp was one of the group instructed in doctrine by the apostles themselves, particularly by St. John at Ephesus. In about the year 100, John appointed him bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor. St. Ignatius of Antioch met him there, about the year 116, and, as he continued on his journey to Rome, wrote him a letter which is still extant. Irenaeus tells of having listened to the sermons of the “gray-haired prince of Asia,” as he called Polycarp. About the year 154, Polycarp was in Rome consulting Pope Anicetus concerning certain ecclesiastical questions. It was here that the heretic Marcion approached him and asked, “Do you know me, Bishop?” The ready answer was: “Yes, I know the first-born of the devil.” After he returned to Smyrna, the pagan populace, on the occasion of festival plays, demanded his death. Polycarp, now eighty-six years old, confessed his faith in Christ and was condemned to be burned. But the flames would not touch his body. He was then stabbed to death. The Christian community of Smyrna told the story of his martyrdom in a letter, still existing, to the congregation at Philomelium in Phrygia.

2. The holy Bishop welcomed the death of a martyr. On the funeral pyre, he prayed: “O God of the angels, of the heavenly powers, of the whole creation, and of the entire race of those who live justly before Thee, I praise Thee for having this day chosen me to join the ranks of Thy holy martyrs and to have a share in the chalice of Thy Anointed One unto the eternal resurrection of soul and body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit.” His bloody martyrdom is, for the saintly Bishop, a sharing in the chalice of the Lord, in His suffering and death; it is Polycarp’s purchase price for resurrection of soul and body; it is the fruit of his intimate union with Christ the Vine. He knows that the sacrifice on Golgotha, although it was offered vicariously for each of us, nevertheless does not dispense us from personal sacrifice and suffering; that, on the contrary, we are obliged to enter into the sacrifice of Christ and to be His companions in crucifixion. “But each must rise in his own rank; Christ is the first fruits, and after Him follow those who belong to him, those who have put their trust in his return” (I Cor. 15:23).

St. Polycarp longed for the company of his brethren in Christ. In the assembly of the holy martyrs he shared in the chalice of the Lord. He realized that Christ is not to be separated from His Body, from the community of the faithful, His members. Whoever wishes to have a part with Christ as Redeemer may do so only insofar as he remains united to the Body of Christ, the Church. No one is able, in isolation, separated from his fellowmen, to come to Christ and to God. Christian life is founded on the principle, Ut omnes unum sint—that all may be one,” on the will to unity, on membership in the Church, on the fulfillment of the “new commandment” that Christ gave: “… that you should love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Polycarp had heard this declaration from the beloved disciple, John: “We have changed over from death to life, in loving the brethren as we do; whereas, if a man is without love, he holds fast by death” (Epistle).

“I praise Thee, God, that Thou hast made me worthy to partake of Thy Chalice, with the company of Thy martyrs.” What is it we seek when we come to the Holy Sacrifice but to be united with the community of the brethren, the Church, and to share in the Sacrifice, the Chalice of the Lord? Do we not truly desire exactly what Polycarp did, that is, to be crucified, to be sacrificed with Christ, head and model of martyrs? Are we permitted, then, in everyday life, to neglect companionship in sacrifice, to dispense ourselves from participation in the Passion of Christ, to shrink from suffering? And yet, how often we water down the profound meaning of our liturgical acts with so-called practical considerations, and live a false life! “God has proved His love to us by laying down His life for our sakes; we too must be ready to lay down our lives for the sake of our brethren” (1 John 3:16).

Collect: O God, who dost gladden our hearts at each recurring festival of Thy blessed martyr bishop Polycarp, grant, in Thy mercy, that we who keep his birthday may also enjoy his protection. Amen.

(Benedict Baur)




Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons

By Mary Reed Newland (1956)




February 2 and 3

CANDLEMAS, on February 2, celebrates the feast of the Purification of Our Lady and the Presentation of Our Lord in the temple, both of which rites were obliged by Jewish law. To prepare for this feast it is necessary to go back as far as Exodus—that is, if you are the curious kind who wants to know why these were part of the Law.

The night before the Exodus God gave the Jews instructions concerning the Paschal Lamb. Not only were they to slay, roast, and consume it, but they were to dip hyssop in its blood and smear the lintels of their doors so that when He passed over Egypt slaying the firstborn males among the Egyptians, He would spare the firstborn of the Jews. And because He would not have them forget the heavy price paid for their freedom, He laid down the law concerning firstborn sons. There is a rich Scriptural background for this feast, and the family’s preparation might include these passages from the Old Testament. When we take the trouble to go back to the Old Testament to help shed light on the events in the New, we are helping our children see that the two are interdependent, part of a whole.

Chapter 13 of Exodus, verses 1-3, tells what He did to assure their remembering:

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Sanctify unto me every first-born that openeth the womb among the children of Israel, as well of men as of beasts: for they are all mine.

And Moses said to the people (verses 11-13): When the Lord shall have brought thee into the land of the Chanaanite, as he swore to thee and thy fathers, and shall give it to thee: Thou shalt set apart all that openeth the womb for the Lord, and all that is first brought forth of thy cattle. Whatsoever thou shalt have of the male sex, thou shalt consecrate to the Lord . . . and every firstborn of men thou shalt redeem with a price.

(A brief run-through beforehand helps parents to see what words might need changing for smaller children.)

In verses 14-17 He gives the reason for this consecration of firstborn to Him:

And when thy son shall ask thee tomorrow, saying: What is this? thou shalt answer him: With a strong hand did the Lord bring us forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. For when Pharaoh was hardened, and would not let us go, the Lord slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of men to the firstborn of beasts: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the womb of the male sex, and all the firstborn of my sons I redeem. And it shall be as a sign in thy hand, and as a thing hung between thy eyes, for a remembrance: because the Lord hath brought us forth out of Egypt by a strong hand.

So this is why Jesus was called Mary’s firstborn Son: because there was an obligation attached to it, whether the child be the first of many children or the Only Son.

These firstborn belonging to God were to be priests and serve at the sacrifices. Not long after this, however, God appointed Aaron and his sons, of the tribe of Levi, to be priests, and out of their line from that time on were to come His priests. This would seem to release the firstborn of the other tribes, but God said No, not yet. Not until a ransom had been paid for them could they be released from His service to return to their families; and then they were to serve Him in a special way in their lay life, dedicated to doing His will. At the time of Our Lord the ransom for a firstborn son was five shekels—about five dollars in our money.


In chapter 12 of Leviticus (so called because it gives the laws of worship entrusted to the tribe of Levi) is the law concerning the purification of women. The fortieth day after the birth of her son, the mother should appear at the door of the tabernacle of the testimony bringing a lamb yearling for a holocaust and a young pigeon or a turtle dove for a sin offering. Accepting these, the priest would offer them before the Lord and pray for her and she would be cleansed.

And if her hand find not sufficiency, and she is not able to offer a lamb, she shall take two turtle (doves) or two young pigeons, one for a holocaust, and another for sin: and the priest shall pray for her and so she shall be cleansed.

Mary offered what was known as “the poor woman’s offering.”

This purification of women is almost always a puzzle to modern mothers. Why were these Jewish mothers considered unclean? To bear a child was matter for rejoicing among the Jews; it was barrenness that was the disgrace. Why should they consider the fruitful mother unclean? None of the assurances that this was only a legal stain satisfied me until Franz Michel Willam’s Mary the Mother of Jesus explained it this way:

This law of purification seems strange to us in these modern times. But if we read the history of ancient peoples we find that those who lived close to nature observed certain religious practices at the time of pregnancy and childbirth. The law of Levitical purification is to be accepted in the same sense. It was a question of a ceremonial uncleanness, not of any sin, and the offering at the end of the prescribed period signified that the person was leaving a condition in which he was conscious of his own weakness and his utter dependence on God.

But even the “ceremonial uncleanness” did not touch Our Lady. Far from claiming exemption from the Law, however, she chose willingly to submit. It was an incomparable moment. She who was conceived without sin went to the temple for purification and bore in her arms a Child born to ransom men; offered Him to God and to His service and ransomed Him for five shekels that He might return home with them to begin the life that would end this law and the priesthood of this temple. Strange: as a Baby He was ransomed in obedience to the Law, yet He had come as ransom that men would be free; and as a man the price paid to Judas for His head was thirty pieces of silver, the price the Law put on the life of a slave (Exodus 21:32).


But something else happened before they left for home. As the ceremony ended, the old priest Simeon came forward guided by the Holy Spirit. Speaking his canticle, the Nunc dimittis, he provided the theme for this feast.

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord,

According to thy word in peace;

Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,

Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:

A light to the revelation of the Gentiles,

And the glory of thy people Israel.

And Anna, the old prophetess, tottered off to announce Him to all who awaited the redemption of Israel, while they probably nudged one another and agreed that she was crazy in the head.

“A light of revelation to the Gentiles . . . .” All the ceremonies preceding this Mass, and the Mass itself, speak of Light. It is the day the candles are blessed for use in the church and in the homes of the people throughout the year; hence, Candle-mass. First comes the blessing of the candles, then their distribution to the people, then the procession around the church with lighted candles, and finally the Mass. It is not always possible to have the distribution and procession, but one can arrive at church early enough to put the family candles with the rest for the blessing, then take them home and have a family procession in the evening.

“In Christian tradition the clean wax of the candles is symbolic of the pure flesh of Christ, the wick the image of the soul of Christ, and the flame a figure of the Divine personality of the Word made Flesh.”

The Blessing of the Candles included in the missal preceding the Mass is very beautiful. Its first prayer makes reverent mention of the substance of the candle: “This liquid to come by the labor of bees to the perfection of wax”; and those for whom the candle will be used: “That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these candles for the use of men, and the health of bodies and souls whether upon the earth, or on the waters . . . .”

The Lesson in the Mass of the Purification is taken from the minor prophet Malachias, whose name means “Angel of the Lord” and who was the last of the prophets, coming some four hundred years before Christ. In it he foretells that Our Lord will come like “a refining fire, and like the fuller’s herb.” To my dismay I discover there are two fuller’s herbs, one being teasel and the other, after several translations from Hebrew to Latin to English, being a type of saltwort. Having written once upon a time on the subject of teasel and its symbolism in this passage, now I must admit the error of the piece and correctly identify Malachias’ fuller’s herb as saltwort (it is sometimes translated fuller’s soap). Saltwort is a family of plants which in biblical days were burned for their alkaline salts and made into soap; the symbolism implied in the prophecy is taken from the use of soap for cleansing wool before it is woven. The wool is sorted, soaked, and washed several times with soap to remove dirt, oil, any trash it has picked up from sheep to fuller; hence its application to the feast of the Purification.

It makes an eloquent meditation for mothers and wives, occupied so constantly with washing, whether their laundry or their children, their dishes or their floors. These are purifications.

Malachias has said that Christ will purify us the same way, refining us by the fire of our trials, purifying us of self-love by the washing of our wills. He would have us in wedding garments, clean and bright.


On Candlemas night at our feast-day dinner, there are two tiny white sugar doves on the cake. After dinner the children tell the story of the Purification and the Presentation and present it in their shadow-box theater.

A shadow-box theater is easily made from a grocery carton, some tissue paper, gummed tape, and cardboard. Our present theater is made from a box about 11″ X 11″ X 15″. Take the flaps off and set it on its side. On what was originally the bottom of the box, cut a stage opening about an inch in from sides and floor of theater, with a swag-like cut across the top like a theater curtain drawn up. Tape tissue paper over this opening, leaving enough lap on all four sides to tape it to the sides of the box. Cover the entire box with fabric, wall paper, or whatever suits your fancy.

The dramatis personae in this case are Mary, Joseph, Simeon holding the Child Jesus, and Anna the prophetess. These are cut from stiff paper in silhouette. They must be generous in length as they are inserted in slits in the floor of the stage, and part of their shadow is lost crossing the stage floor. The action of the figures must be simple and distinct so that the silhouette will tell clearly what they are doing. If you cannot draw, you can find figures to trace in religious coloring books, cut-out books, stories of the lives of the saints, or the life of Christ for children.

We have Simeon holding the Child up in his arms and gazing to Heaven as he says his Nunc dimittis. Anna, bent over with age, has a prominent nose and chin to distinguish her age, and both arms are extended in awe. Joseph stands serenely with his hand on his staff, and in front of him stands Our Lady, straight and lovely, with her hands together in prayer. All the figures are in profile.

The theater is lighted by a candle stump in a saucer set a foot or so behind the theater (this is variable) and it is best displayed in a darkened room.

This is one of the loveliest of all forms of dramatization for children, for the effect achieved with such crude materials simply and quickly put together, is truly magical. They are always speechless to see it finally lighted with its shadow figures so lifelike. They always say “Ohhhhhhhhh.” It is an especially easy medium for learning the mysteries of the Rosary, because once it is put together all that needs changing is the figures.

This night, after the story is told and the theater is alight, we say the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary while we meditate on this scene. Following this we have our family procession with lighted candles.

Small paper cuffs keep the wax from dripping on hands. The babies have their candles alight in candlesticks on the mantel. All through the downstairs we walk, with a grownup reading the Antiphons for the procession of the morning and the children joining in hymns. We sing Salve Regina in English, and O Sanctissima, and the familiar “Hail Holy Queen, Enthroned Above.” Families who know chant well have a large repertoire of songs to choose from, and for those who are anxious to add to their repertoire or improve it, the Pius X Hymnal is an excellent investment. We have just been given one by a holy friend who is anxious that we improve our repertoire. Bless her!

(To be continued)


Father Krier will be in Los Angeles February 4 and Pahrump on February 13. He will be in Albuquerque February 17 and Eureka February 20.


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