VATICAN CITY, MAR 14, 2007 (VIS) - Continuing his cycle of catecheses on the Apostolic Fathers, Benedict XVI dedicated the general audience today to the figure of St. Ignatius of Antioch. The audience, held in St. Peter's Square, was attended by around 25,000 people.

 

From the year 70 to 107 St. Ignatius was bishop of Antioch, "the city in which the disciples first received the name of Christians," said the Pope. Condemned to be thrown to wild beasts, he was taken to Rome for the sentence to be carried out and took advantage of his journey through the various cities of the empire to confirm the Christians living there in their faith.

 

"No Father of the Church expressed with the same intensity as Ignatius the longing for union with Christ and for life in Him," said the Pope, explaining that "two spiritual currents come together in St. Ignatius: that of Paul, which tends towards union with Christ, and that of John, which focuses on life in Him. In their turn, these two currents lead to the imitation of Christ."

 

"Ignatius' irresistible attraction towards union with Christ is the foundation for a true mysticism of unity," Benedict XVI went on. And he recalled how in the seven letters the bishop of Antioch wrote during his journey to Rome "he frequently repeats that God, existing in three persons, is One in absolute unity, ... and that the unity Christians must create in this world is no more than an imitation, as near as possible to the divine archetype."

 

In St. Ignatius' letters we find "a constant and fruitful dialectic between two characteristic aspects of Christian life: on the one hand, the hierarchical structure of the ecclesial community and, on the other, the fundamental unity that binds the faithful to one another in Christ. Consequently, the [various different] roles cannot conflict. On the contrary, the insistence on the communion of believers among themselves and with their pastors is continually reformulated" using musical images such as "the lyre, chords ... symphonies."

 

Benedict XVI highlighted the "special responsibility of bishops, priests and deacons in the edification of the community," which must translate, above all, into "a proposal of love and unity."

 

"It is clear, then, that St. Ignatius was the 'doctor of unity'," said the Pope. "The 'realism' of Ignatius invites us all to undertake a progressive synthesis between configuration to Christ (union with Him, life in Him) and commitment to His Church (unity with the bishop, generous service to the community and the world), ... between interior communion of the Church and mission, which is the proclamation of the Gospel for others."

AG/IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH/...                                                     VIS 070314 (450)


Teachings of Christ

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44 ESV)

Protection of the Mother of God

Protected by your coming, O Mother of God, * the faithful people celebrate today with splendor, * and, gazing at your most pure image, * we say with compunction: * "Shield us with your precious veil * and deliver us from all evil * imploring your Son, Christ our God, to save our souls.” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin stands forth in the Church, * and with the choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us. * The Angels worship with the hierarchs, * and the apostles exult with the prophets, * because, in our behalf, the Mother of God entreats the pre-eternal God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st.

Random Proverb

"Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10,11 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. Hence, if we feel in our hearts the cold that comes from the devil - for the devil is cold - let us call on the Lord. He will come to warm our hearts with perfect love, not only for Him but also for our neighbor, and the cold of him who hates the good will flee before the heat of His countenance.

St. Seraphim of Sarov