Saturday, 23 February 2008

Polycarp, Micah & Pastoral Issues


I just thought I'd blog a couple of things:

1. Today is the feast of St. Polycarp, who was runner up to be my name saint (bet he's well miffed).
Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven, saying, "Be strong, and show yourself a man, O Polycarp!" No one saw who it was that spoke to him; but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice. And as he was brought forward, the tumult became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On his confessing that he was, [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, "Have respect to your old age," and other similar things, according to their custom, [such as], "Swear by the fortune of Cæsar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists." But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium, and waving his hand towards them, while with groans he looked up to heaven, said, "Away with the Atheists." Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, "Swear, and I will set you at liberty, reproach Christ;" Polycarp declared, "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?" - from The Martyrdom of Polycarp

2. I liked today's Old Testament reading, which I wasn't familiar with:
With shepherd’s crook lead your people to pasture,
the flock that is your heritage,
living confined in a forest
with meadow land all around.
Let them pasture in Bashan and Gilead
as in the days of old.
As in the days when you came out of Egypt
grant us to see wonders.

What god can compare with you: taking fault away,
pardoning crime,
not cherishing anger for ever
but delighting in showing mercy?
Once more have pity on us,
tread down our faults,
to the bottom of the sea
throw all our sins.
Grant Jacob your faithfulness,
and Abraham your mercy,
as you swore to our fathers
from the days of long ago. - Micah 7:14-20

3. A, presumably homeless, guy came into church after mass while we were waiting for confession and some people were praying the Rosary. He firmly told us that our religion was of the devil, and man-made, and that God wouldn't hear our prayers. What can you do eh? He didn't hang around to chat long after that. I gather that it was provoked because he approached our priest and didn't get what he was after. Tough one that; it reminds me of a story that was on Sunday on R4 a while back, which unfortunately I only seem to be able to find on the Daily Mail's web-site. I can't remember what Dad does when someone comes to his door. Luckily in Exeter we have a couple of excellent organisations which we can refer people to, St. Petrock's who we explicitly support periodically, and Crossline, which is student-led. People expect a lot of church leaders however, and mostly don't have an understanding of what a tough job it is, so I guess it's only to be expected that they're slammed for hypocrisy. This also reminds me of something I heard from Fr. Mike at an RCIA class - when a priest takes on a parish, he takes on the care of all the souls in that parish, which is a big deal when you think about it.