Write In Between

Thursday, June 08, 2006

St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

St. Ignatus of Antioch (a bishop of that local church) is now on my list of favorite saints. I read about his martyrdom last semester during my Church History course, but now I'm reading his seven letters --that he wrote while en route to certain martyrdom in Rome. You might call these letters his last words, but, remember that Antioch (in Syria) was a long way from Rome, so as his Roman captors were transporting him to Rome he had some time on his hands. So he did what any Christian would want their soon to be executed bishop to do: he rallied the troops--sending letters to six Christian churches and to one bishop (and future martyr himself) Polycarp. He wrote about preserving church unity, fighting heresy, and the authority of bishops. But he also wrote prayerfully---asking these churches to pray that he be worthy of the martyrdom! He called Christians to not be afraid to live the Christian life--even as he faced his own death He was a shepherd to the very end. But what he left the Church were some of the oldest Christian letters outside of the Epistles we find in the New Testament.

Here's a few tidbits to munch on...

From the letter to the Ephesians:

Let no one deceive you, just as you are not deceived, since you belong entirely to God. For when no strife that is able to torment you is rooted within you, then you are living as God wants. I am your lowly scapegoat; I give myself as a sacrificial offering for you Ephesians, a church of eternal renown. Those who belong to the flesh cannot do spiritual things, nor can those who belong to the spirit do fleshly things; so too, faith cannot do what is faithless nor can faithlessness do what is faithful. But even what you do according to the flesh is spiritual, for you do all things in Jesus Christ.


You are stones of the Father's temple, prepared for the building of god the Father. For you are being carried up to the heights by the crane of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, using as a cable the Holy Spirit; and your faith is your hoist, and love is the path that carries you up to God.


Apart from him nothing should seem right to you.

In him I am bearing my chains, which are spiritual pearls; in them I hope to rise again, through your prayer.


This is the beginning and end of life: faith is the beginning, love is the end. And the two together in unity are God; all other things that lead to nobility of character follow.


From the Letter to the Magnesians:

So lay aside the bad yeast, which has grown old and sour, and turn to the new yeast, which is Jesus Christ. Be salted in him, that no one among you become rotten; for you will be shown for what you are by your smell.


From the Letter to the Romans:

Grant me nothing more than to be poured out as a libation to God while there is still an altar at hand, that by becoming a chorus in love, you may sing forth to the Father in Jesus Christ, saying that God has deemed the bishop of Syria worth to be found at the setting of the sun, after sending him from where it rises. For it is good for me to set from the world to God, that I may rise up to him.


For me, ask only that I have power both inside and out, that I not only speak but also have the desire, that I not only be called a Christian, but also found to be one. For if I be found a Christian, I can also be called one and the be faithful--when I am no longer visible in the world.


And finally, this image that foreshadowed his soon execution in the Roman coliseum:

Allow me to be bread for the wild beasts; through them I am able to attain to God. I am the wheat of God and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found to be the pure bread of Christ.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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