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St Ignatius of Antioch
(in Turkey) Bishop and Martyr (entered heaven in 107)
I am not your grandmother, so I will not tolerate your whimpering. You are a junior now. You have had two years of college to whine and simper. Now you have to start taking a stand. Your fellow Compass members need you to. It would be a different story if you were at some insulated, convent-like Catholic college high in the mountains. But you’re not. The culture on your campus will have repercussions in every sector of society through the lives of those very students who walk with you to class each day. And if you, who have received so much from Christ, hide your light under a bushel, those repercussions will be darker and more insidious than they could be. Take a lesson from today’s saint; you have received the same Spirit as he did, so you can have the same courage.
You know well the story of St Ignatius of Antioch, disciple of John the Evangelist and for forty years exemplary pastor of the important Christian community in Antioch – at least, you should know it well, since I told it to you in great detail when we were in Rome together, visiting the Coliseum (where he was thrown to the lions and martyred). It’s a remarkable story, really: How he was denounced as a Christian (under the Emperor Trajan, only Christians who were publicly denounced could be punished for not worshiping the Roman gods; the officials were not supposed to go looking for them) though he was already an old man; how he eagerly submitted to the charges and suffered abuse during his long and indirect sea voyage towards execution in Rome; how he encouraged the Christians who came to see him at every port along the way, and wrote a steady stream of letters exhorting the different churches to stay true to Christ. One of the constant motifs of those letters is his eagerness to suffer for Christ, to bear witness to the truth of Christ even through the loss of his own life. Nothing attracts him more than Christ’s Kingdom. From the Kingdom he draws his superhuman strength, his unquenchable love, his unfathomable wisdom. On the way to his martyrdom, he wrote to the Christians in Rome: “NO earthly 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.”
What is the object of your quest, my dearest nephew? What is your one desire? Don’t be afraid to ask yourself that now, before you continue too far down life’s path. And if in all honesty your answer is not yet what it should be, then ask for God’s grace and begin to reform your soul. You can’t wait any longer; you can’t keep letting the devil and his tricks obstruct you – there is too much at stake. Take your stand; make Christ your quest, and live all the consequences, down to the last detail. If you do, you will join the ranks of the world’s greatest leaders, the ones who, like St Ignatius, led others not only to success in the world, but also, and more importantly, to Success in Eternity.
Your devoted uncle, Eddy