Today is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. With that in mind, let me share some thoughts on history and being a Catholic.
Starting with a quote from an incredible example of early Catholic courage:
"Stand fast and follow the example of the Lord, firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the community, loving each other, united in truth, helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man." - Saint Polycarp of Smyrna (69-155)
Reading the above quote, I am at once struck by the dates of this man Polycarp's life.
If we use the old-fashioned system and say that Jesus Christ was crucified, died and rose again in 33 ad, this man was born just 36 years after this happened. He was an infant during the earliest times of the Church and grew to adulthood under the tutelage of men who had either heard Our Lord themselves, were taught directly by the Apostles are had been taught directly by the Apostles.
From what we do know of St Polycarp, he grew at the feet of the Apostle John, lived well past his 80th year, and died a martyr's death. He died because, in his words, 'I have never denied Jesus Christ, why would I do so now?"
I thought about those early Christians today as I stood, sore and awkward, in line for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I had, inadvertently, broken the Friday fast this morning. In my defense, I was still pretty discombobulated from yesterday but I should have been paying attention. For my morning protein I ate 2 oz of steak instead of tuna and did not catch it until mid-morning. My confessor told me I was not at fault, that it was an honest mistake and told me to be careful of scrupulosity. He also told me to be a follower for the next couple of days, rather than a leader, so that my body could heal.
Good advice - I do tend to be harder on myself than is healthy to be and especially when I don't feel so great physically I try to do more than I should so people around me won't be burdened. What I have learned in AA, however, is that sometimes I can be of service and sometimes I am a service committment, so lighten up.
Anyway, I am going to go get ready for bed. I took my tylenol and all my other medicine for the RA and I am just going to crash - errr, maybe not crash. Not a good word to use right now.