St. Ignatius of Antioch holds a special place in our hearts - his writings (available online for FREE from EWTN here) were influential in our conversion to Catholicism - so much so that we chose Ignatius for our son's middle name. Last year on this day, I was 39 weeks pregnant with him and wishing he would choose this feast day as his birthday (and 10 days later, we finally met our sweet boy). In honor of his feast day, I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes from St. Ignatius, all taken from the letters (epistles) he wrote while on his way to Rome to face his martyrdom, which happened to be facing the lions in the Colosseum.
His letter to the Symyrnaeans contains the first known example of the use of "Catholic Church" to describe the Church founded by Jesus, though Ignatius' use of the phrase without any explanation implies that it was already widely understood and used at the time. Ignatius also refers to the Eucharist multiple times, reinforcing the doctrine of the Real Presence that was also already accepted and taught. And the unity of the Church, specifically under the authority of the bishop, is mentioned several times and is clearly very important to Ignatius. Keep in mind that his letters were written in about 107-108 AD and that Ignatius was a disciple of John.
How does the Church described by Ignatius compare with today's Catholic Church?
What can we learn about the Teachings of Christ and the Apostles from the letters of Ignatius?
"And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men. For there is in them hope of repentance that they may attain to God." - Letter to the Ephesians
"I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ." - Letter to the Romans
" Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God." - Letter to the Ephesians
"They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes" - Letter to the Smyrnaeans
" I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life." - Letter to the Romans
"See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. " - Epistle to the Smyrnaeans
"It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality: as some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Now such persons seem to me to be not possessed of a good conscience, seeing they are not stedfastly gathered together according to the commandment." - Letter to the Magnesians
More on Ignatius
- Listen to an audiobook of the Epistles of Ignatius - FREE on YouTube - here.
- Read all of the Epistles of Ignatius FREE from EWTN online - here.
- Lecture on the Church Fathers: Ignatius of Antioch - 1 hour lecture on YouTube - here.
- Martyrdom of Ignatius - New Advent
- Apologetics with St. Ignatius of Antioch - Catholic Answers
- The Early Church Fathers on the Real Presence
Today is a special feast day for our family - St. Ignatius of Antioch (whom Augustine's middle name is after)! His writings (epistles to different early churches) played a huge part in our conversion and I shared some of our favorite Ignatius quotes on the blog this morning, along with a link to a great Early Church Fathers lecture that I listened to while painting this little Ignatius peg doll this morning. Yes, it's been a long morning... 😴☕ 🎨📖 & if you want to know why Ignatius is surrounded by lions, you'll have to read the post... ✝ http://lilyandmama.com/blog/2016/10/16/celebrating-st-ignatius-of-antioch