‘A reading from the letter of St Ignatius to the Romans.
For my part, I am writing to all the churches and assuring them that I am truly in earnest about dying for God – if only you yourselves put no obstacles in the way. I must implore you to do me no such untimely kindness; pray leave me to be a meal for the beasts, for it is they who can provide my way to God. I am his wheat, ground fine by the lions’ teeth to be made purest bread for Christ. So intercede with him for me, that by their instrumentality I may be made a sacrifice to God.
All the ends of the earth, all the kingdoms of the world would be no profit to me; so far as I am concerned, to die in Jesus Christ is better than to be a monarch of earth’s widest bounds. He who died for us in all that I seek; he who rose again for us is my whole desire. The pangs of birth are upon me; have patience with me, my brothers, and do not shut me out from life, do not wish me to be stillborn. Here is one who only longs to be God’s; do not make a present of him to the world again, or delude him with the things of earth. Suffer me to attain to light, light pure and undefiled; for only when I am come thither shall I be truly a man. Leave me to imitate the passion of my God. If any of you has God within himself, let that man understand my longings, and feel for me, because he will know the forces by which I am constrained.
…I want no more of what men call life’.
St Ignatius of Antioch, 35-108 AD
Feed us, O Lord, with the living Bread and make us drink deep of the cup of salvation: that, following the teaching of thy Bishop Ignatius, and rejoicing in the life with which he embraced the death of a Martyr, we may be nourished for that eternal life which he ever desired; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon