Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Awesome Saint Day - St. Ignatius of Antioch d. 107A.D.

Today is an awesome Saint Day. One of the stalwarts of the early Church and a personal friend of yours truly. St. Ignatius of Antioch was the man. This guy knew no fear for his faith and, if I may be so bold, went happily to martyrdom while begging the Pope and the Church not to intervene in his death.

Epistle to the Romans:
I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God's wheat and bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God.

A successor of St. Peter in Antioch as bishop, he wrote many things which show us the Catholicity of the early Christians. My Church Fathers book is filled with quotations from his writings.

His letters are filled with calls for unity in the church. One letter, his to the Ephesians, instructs the faithful to do nothing without the Bishops and Presbyters (priests).

from From Letter to the Ephesians:
As therefore the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and presbyters. Neither endeavour that anything appear reasonable and proper to yourselves apart; but being come together into the same place, let there be one prayer, one supplication, one mind, one hope, in love and in joy undefiled. There is one Jesus Christ, than whom nothing is more excellent. Do ye therefore all run together as into one temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father, and is with and has gone to one.

from Epistle to St. Polycarp:
Give ye heed to the bishop, that God also may give heed to you. My soul be for theirs that are submissive to the bishop, to the presbyters, and to the deacons, and may my portion be along with them in God! Labour together with one another; strive in company together; run together; suffer together; sleep together; and awake together, as the stewards, and associates, and servants of God. Please ye Him under whom ye fight, and from whom ye receive your wages. Let none of you be found a deserter. Let your baptism endure as your arms; your faith as your helmet; your love as your spear; your patience as a complete panoply. Let your works be the charge assigned to you, that ye may receive a worthy recompense. Be long-suffering, therefore, with one another, in meekness, as God is towards you.May I have joy of you for ever!

from Epistle to the Philadelphians:
Take ye heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever ye do, ye may do it according to the will of God.

from Epistle to the Ephesians (on Harmony):
Since therefore I have, in the persons before mentioned, beheld the whole multitude of you in faith and love, I exhort you to study to do all things with a divine harmony, while your bishop presides in the place of God, and your presbyters in the place of the assembly of the apostles, along with your deacons, who are most dear to me, and are entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of time, and in the end was revealed. Do ye all then, imitating the same divine conduct, pay respect to one another, and let no one look upon his neighbour after the flesh, but do ye continually love each other in Jesus Christ. Let nothing exist among you that may divide you ; but be ye united with your bishop, and those that preside over you, as a type and evidence of your immortality.

All of this, with the exception of the account of his martyrdom was written before 107AD, which is the year of his death at the hands of the pagan Roman Empire. St. Ignatius of Antioch is such an awesome testament to our ancient faith that his commemoration is a fitting celebration especially for today's Church - which is so often maligned.

We are, all of us, persecuted for our beliefs whether they be outspoken or not. The daily onslaught from our culture consistently beats us down in hopes we would succumb to its pressures.

With St. Ignatius of Antioch as our example, I hope we are able to withstand it all.

(quotations taken from NewAdvent)

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