“O Lord God Almighty, the Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of You, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before you, I give You thanks that You have counted me, worthy of this day and this hour, that I should have a part in the number of Your martyrs, in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption [imparted] by the Holy Ghost. Among whom may I be accepted this day before You as a fat and acceptable sacrifice, according as You, the ever-truthful God, have foreordained, have revealed beforehand to me, and now have fulfilled. Wherefore also I praise You for all things, I bless You, I glorify You, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, with whom, to You, and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen.
This moving prayer pronounced by Saint Polycarp before a stadium full of pagans, was his last act before the executioners lit the flames that would bring him to his final end. After concluding these words – a testimony of fidelity to Christ for the faithful of Smyrna – the fire miraculously consumed him as a pure host. The suave advance of the flames, that seemed to respect him, was witnessed by the surprised multitude. His sacrifice occupies a place of honor in martyrology.
This prayer, created in the Second Century within a dramatic context, demonstrates the principle characteristics of how we should direct ourselves to God Almighty; presenting our petitions to the Father through his Son Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit. The entire Church has prayed in this manner since the first centuries and will continue to do so until the last judgment.
There is no doubt that today innumerable Christians are martyred for publically professing their faith, for every baptized person has the duty to declare their adhesion to Jesus Christ before the multitudes when necessary. The situation of this Apostolic Father, St. Polycarp, is repeated mutatis mutandis, in the Church of the XXI century, particularly if the Bishop of Rome is invited to pray in public.
However, Pope Francis prefers to omit the name of Christ to unite himself more closely to the members of other religious professions, which he seems to believe, adore the same God. As a result, some questions arise: Do we really adore the same God? Can Jews, Muslims and Christians invoke him in equal terms and intentions, hoping to obtain the same results?