17 October 2009

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Today our Synod commemorates St. Ignatius of Antioch. From the Treasury and our Synod's website:

Ignatius was the bishop of Antioch in Syria at the beginning of the second century A.D. and an early Christian martyr. Near the end of the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan (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, and also 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.

The prayer for the day includes:

"...we praise Your name for Ignatius of Antioch, pastor and martyr. He offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts so that he might present to You the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept the willing tribute of all we are and all we have and give us a portion in the pure and unspotted offering of Your Son..."

The writing for the day includes these words of his:

"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.'"


Past Elder said...
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Past Elder said...

St Ignatius described the universality of the church in terms of how it can be found locally, which suggests maybe he was using katholikos more in the sense of total, complete, or entire, than in our sense of universal. Where the bishop is, there should the people be, as where Christ is, there is the whole church.

He is writing in the context of those who do not believe that the Eucharist is truly the body of Christ. Why is this never mentioned? Because it would be uncomfortable, seeing that most "Christian" bodies do not think the Eucharist is literally his body and blood?

At least the Docetists of his time held that the Eucharist was not the body and blood of the Lord in consequence of their belief that the body and blood in which he walked around was not really a body and blood either.

Our modern Eucharist deniers don't have that excuse. They're all for a literal understanding of the NT except, as Bishop Sheen used to say, for eight words: This is My Body, This is My Blood. Which is also why a certain German reformer would say he would rather drink the blood of Christ with the pope than wine with Zwingli.

Yet in a few days our modern Eucharist deniers will celebrate Reformation Day on the day, or following modern revisionism, the Sunday before it, of the posting of the 95 theses by a man who would write that if we really understood the literal pledge of Christ's body and blood in the mass we would about pass out for joy at such a Saviour!

Which fits with more modern revisionism: for roughly a thousand years until Vatican II, the feast of St Ignatius in the West was 1 February, unless you're in the East in which case it's 20 December. Was Vatican II held in Rome or St Louis? We do not follow their corruption of "bishop", "catholic" and "Eucharist" but follow their late corruption of the calendar and lectionary?

Thought I read something about we keep many things leading to good order in the church such as the order of Scripture readings and the holy days, understanding that such things do not justify and may be omitted with no offence to the Gospel which does not command them -- not wait until Rome changes stuff then jump on it. (AC26)

Jim said...

Love his letters to the seven churches.