"O Father of The beloved and blessed Son, Jesus Christ...I bless Thee for counting me worthy of this day and hour, that in the number of martyrs I may partake of Christ's cup, to the resurrection of eternal life of both soul and body in the imperishablility that is the gift of the Holy Ghost."
St. Polycarp is the first of our Lenten companions. He was a martyr who died about 155 and he is one of the "Apostolic Fathers", meaning that he received his teaching directly from one of the first disciples or apostles. In fact, he is supposed to have been a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. Polycarp was a contemporary and friend to many other well-known Fathers of the Church, including St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Irenaeus of Lyons. He was captured and martyred during a persecution of Christians in Smyrna, where he was bishop. His final prayer, quoted above, shows a strong Trinitarian theology, and ends with a doxology. Polycarp is an excellent Lenten companion for us because he remained true to his faith in the face of persecution and martyrdom (and this is becoming sadly more common for Christians today), and he followed faithfully in the footsteps of Christ, which all Christians are called to do, regardless of their state of life or the way their lives end. May Polycarp inspire us today to be faithful and unafraid to follow Christ to Calvary and beyond!