Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Fathers Speak: St. Ignatius of Antioch

The Fathers Speak:
St. Ignatius of Antioch

          St. Ignatius was born in the first century in Syria.  There is a legend that he was the child Jesus placed in the midst of his disciples when He taught them to receive the Kingdom of Heaven as a child, but it is unsubstantiated.  What we know for sure is that he was the bishop of Antioch.  He was arrested for his faith and sentenced to be thrown to the lions in the Colosseum.  He was martyred around the year A.D. 107.  His feast day is October 17.  As Ignatius was being taken to Rome he wrote seven letters, which still survive, to Christian communities and to his friend St. Polycarp.  St. Ignatius learned the Faith at the feet of St. John the Apostle and his surviving writings give us great insight into the Faith of the early Church.  They (like all the writings of the Fathers) are great apologetic tools for Catholics.  Below are a few excerpts, particularly focused on the Eucharist:
Be diligent to employ only one Eucharist.  For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and there is one cup for unity in his blood.  There is one altar as there is one bishop together with the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow servants.  The purpose of all this is so that your practices will be in accord with God’s intention.—From the letter to the Philadelphians

[These heretics] abstain from the Eucharist and [appointed times] of prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins and which the Father in his kindness raised.From the letter to the Smyrneans

Without the bishop let no one do anything that is appropriate for the Church.  Let that Eucharist be considered valid that is under the bishop or performed by one to whom he entrusts it.—From the letter to the Smyrneans