Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop, Martyr

Luke 11:47-54
You have not gone in yourselves and have prevented others who wanted to

Jesus said: ‘Alas for you who build the tombs of the prophets, the men your ancestors killed! In this way you both witness what your ancestors did and approve it; they did the killing, you do the building.

‘And that is why the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles; some they will slaughter and persecute, so that this generation will have to answer for every prophet’s blood that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the sanctuary.” Yes, I tell you, this generation will have to answer for it all.

‘Alas for you lawyers who have taken away the key of knowledge! You have not gone in yourselves, and have prevented others going in who wanted to.’
When he left the house, the scribes and the Pharisees began a furious attack on him and tried to force answers from him on innumerable questions, setting traps to catch him out in something he might say.


Romans 3:21-30
It is the same justice of God that comes to Jew and pagan alike

God’s justice that was made known through the Law and the Prophets has now been revealed outside the Law, since it is the same justice of God that comes through faith to everyone, Jew and pagan alike, who believes in Jesus Christ. Both Jew and pagan sinned and forfeited God’s glory, and both are justified through the free gift of his grace by being redeemed in Christ Jesus who was appointed by God to sacrifice his life so as to win reconciliation through faith. In this way God makes his justice known; first, for the past, when sins went unpunished because he held his hand, then, for the present age, by showing positively that he is just, and that he justifies everyone who believes in Jesus.
So what becomes of our boasts? There is no room for them. What sort of law excludes them? The sort of law that tells us what to do? On the contrary, it is the law of faith, since, as we see it, a man is justified by faith and not by doing something the Law tells him to do. Is God the God of Jews alone and not of the pagans too? Of the pagans too, most certainly, since there is only one God.


Psalm 129(130):1-6
With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.
With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.
With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
My soul is waiting for the Lord.
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchman for daybreak.
With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

Source: The Jerusalem Bible
The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Justification

1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” and through Baptism:

But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:
[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.

1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.

1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.

1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:
When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight.

1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God’s love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that “the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth,” because “heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect . . . will not pass away.” He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.

1995 The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the “inner man,”justification entails the sanctification of his whole being:
Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification. . . . But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.


Ignatius of Antioch (ancient Greek: Ἰγνάτιος Ἀντιοχείας, Ignátios Antiokheías) (c. 35 – c. 107), also known as Ignatius Theophorus (Ιγνάτιος ὁ Θεοφόρος, Ignátios ho Theophóros, lit. “the God-bearing”), Ignatius Nurono (lit. “The fire-bearer”) was an early Christian writer and bishop of Antioch. En route to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, Ignatius wrote a series of letters. This correspondence now forms a central part of the later collection known as the Apostolic Fathers. His letters also serve as an example of early Christian theology. Important topics they address include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops. In speaking of the authority of the church, he was the first to use the phrase “catholic church” in writing, which is still in use to this day.

Life
Ignatius converted to Christianity at a young age. Tradition identifies Ignatius, along with his friend Polycarp, as disciples of John the Apostle. Later in his life Ignatius was chosen to serve as a Bishop of Antioch; the fourth-century Church historian Eusebius writes that Ignatius succeeded Evodius. In an attempt to make his apostolic succession even more immediate, Theodoret of Cyrrhus claimed that St. Peter himself left directions that Ignatius be appointed to the episcopal see of Antioch.Ignatius called himself Theophorus (God Bearer). A tradition arose that he was one of the children whom Jesus took in his arms and blessed.
Ignatius’ own writings mention his arrest by the authorities and travel to Rome to face trial:
From Syria even to Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, by night and by day, being bound amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers, who only grow worse when they are kindly treated.
— Ignatius to the Romans, 5.
During the journey to Rome, Ignatius and his entourage of soldiers made a number of stops in Asia Minor. Along the route Ignatius wrote six letters to the churches in the region and one to a fellow bishop, Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In his Chronicle, Eusebius gives the date of Ignatius’s death as AA 2124 (2124 years after Abraham), i.e. the 11th year of Trajan’s reign, AD 108. Although Ignatius himself wrote that he would be thrown to the beasts, “lions” are explicitly mentioned first in the fourth century by Jerome, and John Chrysostom is the first to allude to the Colosseum as the place of Ignatius’ martyrdom.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church it is observed on 20 December. The Synaxarium of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria places it on the 24th of the Coptic Month of Koiak (which is also the 24 day of the fourth month of Tahisas in the Synaxarium of The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church), corresponding in three years out of every four to 20 December in the Julian Calendar, which currently falls on 2 January of the Gregorian Calendar.

Christology
Ignatius is known to have taught the deity of Christ:
There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first passible and then impassible, even Jesus Christ our Lord.

— Letter to the Ephesians, ch. 7, shorter version, Roberts-Donaldson translation
Also in the interpolated text of the 4th Century Long Recension:

But our Physician is the Only true God, the unbegotten and unapproachable, the Lord of all, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son. We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For “the Word was made flesh.” Being incorporeal, He was in the body, being impassible, He was in a passible body, being immortal, He was in a mortal body, being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts.

— Letter to the Ephesians, ch. 7, longer version
He stressed the value of the Eucharist, calling it a “medicine of immortality” (Ignatius to the Ephesians 20:2). The very strong desire for bloody martyrdom in the arena, which Ignatius expresses rather graphically in places, may seem quite odd to the modern reader. An examination of his theology of soteriology shows that he regarded salvation as one being free from the powerful fear of death and thus to bravely face martyrdom.
Ignatius is claimed to be the first known Christian writer to argue in favor of Christianity’s replacement of the Sabbath with the Lord’s Day:

Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which are profitless. For if even unto this day we live after the manner of Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace … If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day, on which our life also arose through Him … how shall we be able to live apart from Him?
— Ignatius to the Magnesians 8:1, 9:1-2, Lightfoot translation.
Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness, … But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body … and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space … And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ

— Letter to the Magnesians 9, Roberts and Donaldson translation, p. 189.
Ecclesiology
Ignatius is the earliest known Christian writer to emphasize loyalty to a single bishop in each city (or diocese) who is assisted by both presbyters (elders) and deacons. Earlier writings only mention either bishops or presbyters.
For instance, his writings on bishops, presbyters and deacons:
Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles, and with the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father from the beginning and is at last made manifest

— Letter to the Magnesians 2, 6:1
He is also responsible for the first known use of the Greek word katholikos (καθολικός), meaning “universal”, “complete” and “whole” to describe the church, writing:
Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid.
— Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8, J.R. Willis translation.
It is from the word katholikos (“according to the whole”) that the word catholic comes. When Ignatius wrote the Letter to the Smyrnaeans in about the year 107 and used the word catholic, he used it as if it were a word already in use to describe the Church. This has led many scholars to conclude that the appellation Catholic Church with its ecclesial connotation may have been in use as early as the last quarter of the First century. On the Eucharist, he wrote in his letter to the Smyrnaeans:
Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God … They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.
— Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1
In his letter addressed to the Christians of Rome, he entreats to do nothing to prevent his martyrdom.

Source: Wikipedia