Saturday, January 28, 2012

St. Ignatius

Until I heard his name at vespers earlier tonight I hadn't noticed that today (Orthodox Christians begin the day at sundown) is the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch.   St. Ignatius is one of the people who lead me to Orthodox Christitianity.  In his seven letters, which he wrote in the 1st century while under arrest and on his way to be fead to lions (I found the letters on the shelves of the library at Peninsula Bible Church), I learned that the bishop, working together with the priests and deacons, rules his diocese like a father rules hisfamily (letter to the church at Magnesia), I learned that bishops work together to serve the whole Church (Letter to Polycarp), that the bloodless sacrifice is the central event of Christian worship (Letter to the church at Ephesus).  I even saw, in the difference between the letters to the six churches and the letter to Polycarp how a metropolitan addresses churches in his metropolia and how he adresses a bishop outside his jurisdiction.   In short, St. Ignatius' letters caused me to doubt the church structure of my Protestant Christianity and primed me to recognize ancient Church structure when I saw it a couple of years later in the Orthodox Church.  

But my favorite thing said by St. Ignatius is something all Christians agree with.  It is from the letter to the Trallians:

"Stop your ears, therefore, when any one speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and did eat and drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; He was truly crucified and died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, his Father having raised him up, as in the same manner his Father will raise up us who believe in him by Christ Jesus, apart from whom we do not possess the true life."

So, we Orthodox Christians give praise and honor to our father in the Holy Faith, Ignatius of Antioch.


By sharing in the ways of the Apostles,
you became a successor to their throne.
Through the practice of virtue, you found the way to divine contemplation,
O inspired one of God;
by teaching the word of truth without error, you defended the Faith,
even to the shedding of your blood.
Hieromartyr Ignatius, entreat Christ God to save our souls.


 The stirring celebration of your victorious fight
Is an announcement of the One who is to be born of the Virgin.
In your eagerness to possess Him forever,
You hastened to be devoured by the wild beasts.
Therefore, O glorious Ignatius, you were called the bearer of God!

1 comment:

Jim said...

It was Ignatius' letters that really drew me towards Orthodoxy!