MEMORIAL: Saint Polycarp - Bishop, Apostolic Father and Martyr

“... where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’” (Mark 9:48.)

Saint Gregory of Nyssa (part 2 of the background of Saint Gregory of Nyssa is found here) offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel proclamation:

“Nor, too, does anything which afflicts the senses here equal in torment the future life of sinners. Even if we denote some of those torments by terms familiar to us here, the difference is not slight. When you hear the word “fire,” you have been taught to think of it differently from ordinary fire, since a new factor is added. For that fire is not quenched, while experience has devised many ways to quench the fire we know. And there is a great difference between fire which is quenched and that which cannot be put out. They are, therefore, different, and not the same. Then again, when a person hears the word “worm,” the analogy must not be misapplied directly from the creature we know to the eternal. For the addition of the phrase “that does not die” suggests the thought that this worm is not simply the creature we know.” (Catechetical Oration, 40.)

God of all creation,
who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp
a place in the company of the Martyrs,
grant, through his intercession,
that, sharing with him in the chalice of Christ,
we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen