Today is the commemoration of St. Ignatius of Antioch, consecrated 3rd bishop of Antioch by St. Peter, the chief of the Apostles. He was also a student of St. John the theologian, author of the Fourth Gospel. It was largely the influence of St. Ignatius, and his clear teaching of the Real Presence in the Eucharist which led me back to catholic faith after spending sometime in my youth as a fundamentalist. He is therefore a patron saint for me.
St. Ignatius in his letters teaches Sacrament and social solidarity, like many of the other Church Fathers. It is this tradition that Anglo-Catholicism draws from for its vision of the Church and social justice.
In a time of persecution, Ignatius was arrested and escorted to Rome to face execution. During his journey from Syria to Rome, he wrote six letters discussing the sacraments, theology, and ecclesiology.
Here is a classic passage in which St. Ignatius integrates his sacramental and social teaching:
"They (the Docetists) have no care for love, no thought for the widow and orphan, none at all for the afflicted, the captive, the hungry, or the thirsty. They even absent themselves from the Eucharist and public prayers, because they will not admit that the Eucharist is the self-same Body of our Saviour Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins..."
- Ignatius of Antioch (+ 107-110 CE) Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 6-7.
In this passage, Ignatius reflects on the meaning of his inevitable martyrdom:
"I am God's wheat, ground fine by the lion's teeth to be made purest bread for Christ. No early pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God."
- St. Ignatius of Antioch, Romans 4
Collect for St. Ignatius of Antioch:
Almighty God, we praise thy name for thy bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present unto thee the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept, we pray thee, the willing tribute of our lives, and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of thy Son Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.