Quarantine Comfort with
Julian of Norwich and friends
 
“All Shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
 
“For just as the joyful Trinity made everything out of nothing, so the same Trinity
can make well that is not well”
 
– Julian of Norwich
Polycarp – Aged Bishop of Smyrna

“He who grants me to endure the fire will enable me also to remain on the pyre unmoved, without the security you desire from nails.”

Polycarp had been a Christian since he was a child, but the Romans didn’t get around to killing him until he was in his eighties. Whatever the reason for the delay, it is still the first recorded martyrdom in post-New Testament church history.

Uneducated but direct

He lived during the most formative era of the church, at the end of the age of the original apostles, when the church was making the critical transition to the second generation of believers. Tradition has it that he was personally discipled by the apostle John and that he was appointed as bishop of Smyrna (in modern Izmir in Turkey) by some of the original apostles.

In his later years, he tried to settle disputes about the date to celebrate Easter, and he confronted one of the church’s most troublesome heretics, the Gnostic Marcion, calling him “the first born of Satan,” when he ran into him in Rome. Polycarp was also responsible for converting many from Gnosticism. His only existing writing, a pastoral letter to the church at Philippi, shows he had little formal education, and was unpretentious, humble, and direct.

Such traits are especially evident in the account of his martyrdom, which was written within a year of his death. It is not clear exactly why he was suddenly, at age 86, subject to arrest, but when he heard Roman officials were intent on arresting him, he decided to wait for them at home. Panic-stricken friends pleaded with him to flee, so to calm them, he finally agreed to withdraw to a small estate outside of town. But while in prayer there, he received some sort of vision. Whatever he saw or heard, we don’t know. He simply reported to his friends that he now understood, “I must be burned alive.”

Roman soldiers eventually discovered Polycarp’s whereabouts and came to his door. When his friends urged him to run, Polycarp replied, “God’s will be done,” and he let the soldiers in. He was escorted to the local proconsul, Statius Quadratus, who interrogated him in front of a crowd of curious onlookers. Polycarp seemed unfazed by the interrogation; he carried on a witty dialogue with Quadratus until Quadratus lost his temper and threatened Polycarp: he’d be thrown to wild beasts, he’d be burned at the stake, and so on. Polycarp just told Quadratus that while the proconsul’s fire lasts but a little while, the fires of judgment (“reserved for the ungodly,” he slyly added) cannot be quenched. Polycarp concluded, “But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.”

Soldiers then grabbed him to nail him to a stake, but Polycarp stopped them: “Leave me as I am. For he who grants me to endure the fire will enable me also to remain on the pyre unmoved, without the security you desire from nails.” He prayed aloud, the fire was lit, and his flesh was consumed. The chronicler of this martyrdom said it was “not as burning flesh but as bread baking or as gold and silver refined in a furnace.”

The account concluded by saying that Polycarp’s death was remembered by “everyone”—”he is even spoken of by the heathen in every place.”

Comfort Food Recipe of the Week
 
“Best Brownie Recipe Ever”
 
Send us pictures of your brownies: office@tablelifechurch.org
 
 
More words of Comfort from the Saints
 By Ellyn Sanna
 

Julian of Norwich was born in late 1342 and died around 1412. Having lived in the Middle Ages, she survived the Plague at a time when over half of the population of Norwich did not. She also survived a time when the Church was persecuting certain believers such as John Wycliff and his followers. The Bishop of Norwich was granted permission to execute any of these followers that were found and they were burned alive less than a mile from where Julian lived. The smoke from the fires would have entered the window of her small room. She experienced an illness so severe that she and others thought she was going to die. During that time, she was given revelations and after she recovered, she spent the rest of her life pondering those. Her firm resolve was “all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” (11)

Wisdom from Julian’s revelations:

“…our Protector (Lord) showed me a spiritual view of the Divine One’s ultimate love for us. I saw that the Divine Spirit is everything that comforts us and give us pleasure. This Spirit is our clothing. In love, the Divine One wraps us up, holds us tight and encloses us with tenderness. The Spirit lives in everything good that we encounter, the entire universe, and we shall never be abandoned.” (35-36)

“Just as our bodies are clothed with fabrics; our blood and muscles covered with skin; our bones wrapped with blood and muscles; and our hearts hidden at the center of all these- so are we, soul and body, clad in the goodness of God, completely enclosed and safe. Even more comforting is the reality of God’s goodness, though, for our clothing, our flesh, our very bones, all may grow old and waste away – but the goodness and unity of God are always whole and strong.” (40)

“Whenever I look at myself as if I stand alone in the midst of Creation, I see how insignificant I am – and yet, when I take my place in the Body, I am united in love with all others who follow Christ.” (48)

“God wants us to believe that we do in fact see the Divine Presence continually, even though we feel as though we barely catch a glimpse of God. Our belief fills our lives with grace. In the end, God will be seen – and God sought; God will give us rest- and God will be trusted.” (54)

“All things that exist have always existed in God’s mind; there is no beginning to God’s thoughts…All this God showed me with utter joy, as if to say: ‘See! I am God. See! I am in all things. See! I do all things. See! I never lift My hands from Creation, nor shall I ever, world without end.” (62)

“God wants us, even in the midst of our pain and sadness, to hold on to peace with all our strength. Ultimately, our joy will never end, but our sorrow is fleeting. All sadness will evaporate into nothingness for those who are restored to unity with God.” (81)

“I learned that our souls will never be at rest until they come to Him in the knowledge that He is the fullness of joy, intimate and welcoming, full of delight and the very essence of life.” (119)

“In this stark, unadorned word – sin- our Protector (Lord) brought to my mind all that is not good: the malice and total negation of all He was, the pain He bore for us in this life; His death, and all the spiritual and physical pain and suffering of His creatures… I understood that Christ’s Endurance (death on the cross) was the worst pain of all… Our good Protector (Lord) did not want us to be terrified by this; He wants our comfort… I believe sin can only be known through the pain it causes. This pain, as I understand it, is something that makes us rely on God’s mercy… Because our good Protector (Lord) loves us so tenderly, He is quick to comfort, saying, ‘Granted, sin has caused you all this pain, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’” (125)