October 17, Ignatius of Antioch

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If, then, those who were conversant with the ancient Scriptures came to newness of hope, expecting the coming of Christ, as the Lord teaches us when He says, “If you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me”; and again, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad; for before Abraham was, I am”; how shall we be able to live without Him? The prophets were His servants and foresaw Him by the Spirit and waited for Him as their teacher and expected Him as their Lord and Savior, saying, “He will come and save us.” Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner . . . but let us keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on [the Word of God] . . . . Let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day, the resurrection day, as a festival. For it is the queen and chief of all the days of the week. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again and the victory over death was obtained in Christ.

—Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius was the bishop of Antioch in Syria at the beginning of the second century AD and an early Christian martyr. Near the end of the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117), Ignatius was arrested, taken in chains to Rome, and eventually thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. On the way to Rome, he wrote letters to the Christians at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna, as well as to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In the letters, which are beautifully pastoral in tone, Ignatius warned against certain heresies (false teachings). He also repeatedly stressed the full humanity and deity of Christ, the reality of Christ’s bodily presence in the Lord’s Supper, the supreme authority of the bishop, and the unity of the Church found in her bishops. Ignatius was the first to use the word catholic to describe the universality of the Church. His Christ-centeredness, his courage in the face of martyrdom, and his zeal for the truth over against false doctrine are a lasting legacy to the Church.

Prayer

Almighty God, we praise Your name for Ignatius of Antioch, pastor and martyr. He offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts so that he might present to You the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept the willing tribute of all that we are and all that we have, and give us a portion in the pure and unspotted offering of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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Published in: on October 17, 2014 at 8:37 am  Leave a Comment  

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