Ordinary Time: October 17th
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr
Previous Calendar: St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, virgin
St. Ignatius is one of the great bishops of the early Church. He was the successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Antioch. He was condemned to death by wild beasts during the Emperor Trajan's persecution. On his way to Rome, he wrote seven magnificent letters, which we still have today, concerning the Person of Christ, his love for Christ, his desire for martyrdom and on the constitution of the Church and Christian life. His sentiments before his approaching martyrdom are summed in his word in the Communion antiphon, "I am the wheat of Christ, ground by the teeth of beasts to become pure bread."Before the reform of the Roman Calendar in 1969, this was the memorial of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, virgin. In the present calendar, her feast is an optional memorial celebrated on October 16. St. Ignatius feast was celebrated on February 1.
St. Ignatius of Antioch
In the Martyrology we read: "At Rome, the holy bishop and martyr Ignatius. He was the second successor to the apostle Peter in the see of Antioch. In the persecution of Trajan he was condemned to the wild beasts and sent in chains to Rome. There, by the emperor's order, he was subjected to most cruel tortures in the presence of the Senate and then thrown to the lions. Torn to pieces by their teeth, he became a victim for Christ."
- Find the epistles of St. Ignatius. Read and meditate upon his words; Meditate on the words of St. Ignatius in the Communion Antiphon. Are we able to accept martyrdom, either bodily death, or "white martyrdom"? Jesus Himself was the Grain of wheat who had to die to bear fruit. The fruit produced is the Mystical Body, the Church. Pius Parsch explains that: "In turn each Christian becomes a grain of wheat that matures for the mill of martyrdom! Read the Communion as if it were your own composition. I, a kernel of wheat! I, too, am destined for the mill of suffering, to be ground — not only was it true of Ignatius. What type of beasts' teeth will crush me? Persecution? Pain and suffering? Other people? It makes no difference, the kernel must die, either buried in the ground to produce another stalk or crushed to become bread. Is not this our destiny in life, to die to self or to lose ourselves in service to others?" (The Church's Year of Grace, Advent to Candlemas, The Liturgical Press, 1964)
- Read more about St. Ignatius of Antioch here and here.
- Plant some wheat to help the children visualize grains or kernels of wheat
- Bake a Lion Cake
- Bake wheat bread or make something with wheat kernels. Hot cross buns or pretzels in their traditional shape remind us of the cross which we must embrace, as St. Ignatius did.