Saturday, October 17, 2009

Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch

Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch. St. Ignatius is a saint everyone should learn about. Ignatius had a deep relationship with Christ that resulted in a joyful spirit as he was led from his see in Antioch to Rome where he was put to death by lions in 107 for being a Christian. His Letter to the Smyrnaeans is the earliest instance we know of the use of the phrase"the Catholic Church" (section 8). I find his Letter to the Ephesians to be especially rich. Here are some excerpts from his Letter to the Ephesians from Early Christian Writings (translation by Mawell Staniforth and revised translation by Andrew Louth):

It is true that I am a prisoner for the Name's sake, but I am by no means perfect in Jesus Christ as yet; I am only a beginner in discipleship, and I speaking to you as fellow-scholars with myself. (Section 3)

Regarding the rest of mankind, you should pray for them unceasingly, for we can always hope that repentance may enable them to find their way to God. Give them a chance to learn from you, or at all events from the way you act. Meet their animosity with mildness, their high words with humility, and their abuse with your prayers. But stand firm against their errors, and if they grow violent, be gentle instead of wanting to pay them back in their own coin. Let us show by our forbearance that we are their brothers, and try to imitate the Lord by seeing which of us can put up with the most ill-usage or privation or contempt--so that in this way none of the devil's noxious weeds may take root among you, but you may rest in Jesus Christ in all sanctity and discipline of body and soul. (Section 10)

Apart from Him, nothing else should have any value in your eyes; but in Him, even these chains I wear are a collar of spiritual pearls to me, in which I hope to rise again through the help of your intercessions. (Section 11)

Do your best, then, to meet more often to give thanks and glory to God. When you meet frequently, the powers of Satan are confounded, and in the face of your corporate faith his maleficence crumbles. Nothing can better a state of peaceful accord, from which every trace of spiritual or earthly hostility has been banished. (Section 13)

... for life begins and ends with two qualities. Faith is the beginning, and love is the end; and the union of the two together is God. All that makes for a soul's perfection follows in their train, for nobody who professes faith will commit sin, and nobody who possesses love can feel hatred. As the tree is known by its fruits, so they who claim to belong to Christ are known by their actions; for this work of ours does not consist in just making professions, but in a faith that is both practical and lasting. (Section 14)

Whatever we do, then, let it be done as though He Himself were dwelling within us, we being as it were His temples and He within us as their God. For in fact, that is literally the case; and in proportion as we rightly love Him, so it will become clear to our eyes. (Section 15)

As for me, my spirit is now all humble devotion to the Cross: the Cross which so greatly offends the unbelievers, but is salvation and eternal life to us. (Section 18)

[Ignatius says that he will write to the Ephesians again, God willing, if, among other things, they] ... are ready now to obey your bishop and clergy with undivided minds and to share the one common breaking of bread--the medicine of immortality, and the sovereign remedy by which we escape death and live in Jesus Christ for evermore. (Section 20)

No comments: