St. Ignatius of Antioch—Letter to the Ephesians
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“It is better to say nothing and be a Christian, than to speak and not to be one.”
Throughout Ignatius’ letters is a clear view of the Church as hierarchical and monarchical, and his Letter to the Ephesians is no exception. In it Ignatius emphasizes respect and obedience to the bishop, and to the priests and deacons in union with him.
For Ignatius, the formula is simple: Jesus is the mind of the Father, and the appointed bishops are of one mind with Christ. If the prayer of two or three gathered in Christ’s name is so efficacious, how much greater is that prayer in union with the bishop and the whole Church?
Ignatius also issues stern warnings to those who would compromise the Church’s unity and pollute her teaching. In particular, those who would corrupt the family. Ignatius warns that those who bear the name of Christian while behaving in a way unworthy of God cannot be listened to. Again, for Ignatius the formula is simple: faith can no more do the things of infidelity, than infidelity can do the things of faith.
Are we to abandon such people? Of course not, Ignatius says. “Do not cease to pray, for there is hope of their conversion and of their finding God. Give them the chance to be instructed, at least by the way you behave.” Yet another simple formula.
Ignatius of Antioch’s feast is October 17. Let us pray for Ignatius’ intercession, asking Our Lord for the meekness, humility, and steadfastness in prayer to which Ignatius exhorts us.
Translation courtesy of Catholic University of America Press: https://www.hfsbooks.com/books/the-apostolic-fathers-walsh-grimm-marique/
Alternate Translation at CatholicCulture.org: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/fathers/view.cfm?recnum=1628
Other readings of Ignatius’ Letters: https://www.catholicculture.
Way of the Fathers, Ep. 4—Ignatius of Antioch: To Know “Jesus Christ Our God” https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/episode-4-ignatius-antioch-to-know-jesus-christ-our-god/
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