Saturday, October 17, 2009

Memorial of St Ignatius of Antioch

"Make yourselves gentle, and be born again in the faith which is the body of the Lord and in the love which is the blood of Jesus Christ. No one must bear a grudge against his neighbor. Never give the pagans the slightest pretext, so that the great majority who serve God will not be mocked because of the folly of a few. Woe to him on account of whose folly my name is blasphemed.

So turn a deaf ear to the talk of anyone whose language has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. Descended from David, he was truly born of Mary, he really ate and drank. He was really persecuted under Pontius Pilate, and truly died by crucifixion, while heavenly and earthly beings and those under the earth looked on. He truly rose from the dead, being raised by his Father. Those who believe in him will be raised like him by the Father. We shall rise again in Christ without whom we do not have true life.

Avoid, then, those poisonous growths that bear deadly fruit; the mere taste of them is sudden death. Such growths are not of the Father's planting; if they were they would be recognized as branches of the cross, their fruit would be imperishable. The cross of Christ's passion is his invitation to you who are the members of his body.

The head cannot come to life without the members, since God, the very ground of unity, has foretold such a union.

The chains which I wear for the sake of Jesus Christ, praying all the time that I may come to God, are my plea. Continue to live together in that harmony of yours and persevere in prayer together. It is fitting that everyone, and especially the presbyters, should comfort the bishop and thereby honor the Father and Jesus Christ, and his apostles.

I beg you, if you love me, listen to me, so that this letter of mine may not witness against you. And pray for me, too, lest I be found unfit, for in God's mercy I need your love to make me worthy of the destiny that is mine.

And now, farewell in Jesus Christ. Be submissive to your bishop, as you would to God's command, and also to the clergy. As individuals, love one another with undivided affection. My life is being sacrificed for you, not only at this moment, but also when I shall come before God. Though I am still in danger, God the Father, through Jesus Christ, is my pledge that my prayer and yours will be heard. My desire is that, through him, you may be found without fault." 
-- From the letters of St Ignatius of Antioch. Today we celebrate his memorial.

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