Yesterday was the feast of the great bishop/martyr of Antioch, St. Ignatius. Do you know him? Every Catholic should. When we intercede for our bishops, St. Ignatius must immediately come to mind. What if every one of our bishops embraced his example. What a difference we would see in the Catholic Church!
We know quite a bit about St. Ignatius because he wrote a number of letters as he was being taken to Rome to the "games" to be attacked by the beasts in the Coliseum. Many Christians along the way wanted to rescue him, but he discouraged them saying:
I fear your charity lest it prejudice me. For it is easy for you to do what you please; but it will be difficult for me to come to God unless you hold your hand. I shall never have another such opportunity of attaining unto my Lord... Therefore you cannot do me a greater favour than to suffer me to be poured out as a libation to God whilst the altar is ready; that forming a choir in love, you may give thanks to the Father by Jesus Christ that God has vouchsafed to bring me, a Syrian bishop, from the east to the west to pass out of this world, that I may rise again unto Him.
The evidence of Ignatius' perfect love for God manifests itself in his total joyful resignation to his coming martyrdom. I blush with shame when I think how much I whine and complain over the least little suffering in the face of this bishop's courage. Read on:
Suffer me to be the food of wild beasts through whom I may attain unto God. I am God's grain and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather entice the beasts to become my sepulchre, that they may leave nothing of my body, that when I am dead I may not be troublesome to any man.
As I read this, I thought of the funerals of Justice William Brennan and Ted Kennedy. Both of them, as they neared death, thought, not of their coming judgment, but of the honors they wished to experience even from their coffins. Brennan wasn't satisfied to be buried from his diocesan church, Our Lady of Lourdes in Arlington. He wanted a funeral at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, D.C. looking for human respect even after death. And Ted Kennedy? Well, he was busy excusing himself for his genocide against the unborn, seeking papal approval even as he lay dying. What poor pitiful men. I pray they had a moment of isight in those final moments and offered the prayer of the repentant thief on the cross.
Who can read the words of St. Ignatius without a leap of heart at his confidence in God and his willingness to suffer as the Savior did?:
I have joy of the beasts that are prepared for me and I heartily wish that they may devour me promptly: nay, I would even entice them to devour me immediately and wholly, and not to serve me as they have served some whom they have been afraid to touch. If they are unwilling to meddle with me, I will even compel them... May nothing visible or invisible begrudge me that I may attain unto Jesus Christ. Come fire and cross, gashes and rendings, breaking of bones and mangling of limbs, the shattering in pieces of my whole body; come all the wicked torments of the Devil upon me if I may but attain unto Jesus Christ.
And his final exhortation to his sorrowful flock:
Do not have the name of Jesus Christ upon your lips and worldly desires in your hearts.
How desperately we need holy bishops like St. Ignatius. How desperately Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, and other self-serving "devout Catholic" politicians need to hear his admonition. May we love our enemies and send our guardian angels to pray with theirs that they may become heroes of the Lord! Imagine the good that these wicked men and women could accomplish if they walked in the footsteps of Mary Magdalene and the good thief and bent their knees to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Lord Jesus, Savior of the World, have mercy on us.
Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners, pray for us.
St. Joseph, patron of a happy death, pray for us.
All angels and saints of God, pray for us.