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February 23

Lent 2018

Friday of the First Week of Lent


Today we remember St. Polycarp, a bishop and martyr.


"And today, in many parts of the world, there are many, many—more than in the first centuries—so many martyrs, who give up their lives for Christ, who are brought to death because they do not deny Jesus Christ. This is our Church. Today we have more martyrs than in the first centuries! However, there is also daily martyrdom, which may not entail death but is still a 'loss of life' for Christ, by doing one's duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus, the logic of gift, of sacrifice. Let us think: how many dads and moms every day put their faith into practice by offering up their own lives in a concrete way for the good of the family! Think about this! How many priests, brothers and sisters carry out their service generously for the Kingdom of God! How many young people renounce their own interests in order to dedicate themselves to children, the disabled, the elderly . . . They are martyrs too! Daily martyrs, martyrs of everyday life!"

—Pope Francis, Angelus, June 23, 2013


In honor of St. Polycarp, a bishop and martyr, we pray for all those persecuted because of their faith today:

O God of all the nations, the One God who is and was and always will be, in your providence you willed that your Church be united to the suffering of your Son. Look with mercy on your servants who are persecuted for their faith in you. Grant them perseverance and courage to be worthy imitators of Christ. Bring your wisdom upon leaders of nations to work for peace among all peoples. May your Spirit open conversion for those who contradict your will, that we may live in harmony. Give us the grace to be united in truth and freedom, and to always seek your will in our lives. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

—Prayer composed by Archbishop William E. Lori, Baltimore


In the reflection today, Pope Francis talks about what it means to be a daily martyr. Make a list of the ways you serve your family, spouse, children, parents, coworkers, neighbors, etc., and see if you might be able to add more things to that list in the coming days. Are there new, small ways of loving them that you could offer?

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