Saturday, February 23, 2008

St. Polycarp of Smyrna and Irenaeus

Today is the Feast of St. Polycarp of Smyrna (ca. 69- ca. 155 AD), one of my favorite Fathers of the Church: Reputed disciple of John, the Apostle, friend to St. Ignatius of Antioch, respected teacher of St. Irenaeus of Lyons. Eusebius preserves for us a few of Irenaeus' letters in which Polycarp is referenced by name. What follows is from Irenaeus' Letter to Florinus, a friend who had fallen into heresy. Irenaeus makes an earnest appeal to Polycarp's great witness and role in the early Church:
These opinions, Florinus, that I may speak in mild terms, are not of sound doctrine; these opinions are not consonant to the Church, and involve their votaries in the utmost impiety; these opinions, even the heretics beyond the Church’s pale have never ventured to broach; these opinions, those presbyters who preceded us, and who were conversant with the apostles, did not hand down to thee.

For, while I was yet a boy, I saw thee in Lower Asia with Polycarp, distinguishing thyself in the royal court, and endeavouring to gain his approbation. For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events (inasmuch as the experiences of childhood, keeping pace with the growth of the soul, become incorporated with it); so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse— his going out, too, and his coming in—his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures. These things, through, God’s mercy which was upon me, I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God’s grace, revolving these things accurately in my mind.

And I can bear witness before God, that if that blessed and apostolical presbyter had heard any such thing, he would have cried out, and stopped his ears, exclaiming as he was wont to do: “O good God, for what times hast Thou reserved me, that I should endure these things?” And he would have fled from the very spot where, sitting or standing, he had heard such words. This fact, too, can be made clear, from his Epistles which he dispatched, whether to the neighbouring Churches to confirm them, or to certain of the brethren, admonishing and exhorting them.
Thanks be to God.
The Menil Collection & Renaissance Music

We finally made it out to see the The Menil Collection this afternoon for the first time, followed by a small concert of music of Elizabethan England and Renaissance Italy at the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum by the Houston Chamber Choir Quartet. Fun!
Lenten Reflections from the Planet of the Apes

From Taylor's Opening Monologue:
And that completes my final report until we reach touchdown. We're now on full automatic, in the hands of the computers. I've tucked my crew in for the long sleep and I'll be joining them soon.

In less than an hour we'll finish our sixth month out of Cape Kennedy. Six months in deep space. By our time, that is. According to Dr Hasslein's theory of time in a vehicle traveling nearly the speed of light, the Earth has aged nearly 700 years since we left it, while we've aged hardly at all.

It may be so.

This much is probably true. The men who sent us on this journey are long since dead and gone. You who are reading me now are a different breed. I hope a better one.

I leave the 20th century with no regrets, but... one more thing. If anybody's listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It's... purely personal. Seen from out here, everything seems different. Time bends. Space is... boundless. It squashes a man's ego. I feel lonely.

That's about it.

Tell me, though... Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who has sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother, keep his neighbor's children starving?
Hope you are having a solemn Lent!


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