This letter comes from a letter written by St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Magnesians. St. Ignatius was the 2nd bishop ever of Antioch and was Consecrated as a Bishop by St. Peter around the year 69 A.D. I think his letter is pertinent not only to his own time, but to ours as well. We are called to be of one mind and heart with the Lord Jesus and to live also in unity with one another, spurring one another on toward heaven. I hope you are inspired by the words of a great Saint and early Church Father. May his words encourage us to remain close to the Lord Jesus and inspire us to live holy lives united in our faith in God and His Church here on earth.
One prayer, one hope in love and in holy joy
In the persons I mentioned, I saw and loved in faith your whole community; and so I urge you to strive to do all things in the harmony of God. The bishop is to preside as God’s representative, the presbyters are to perform the rule of the apostolic council, and the deacons, who are so dear to me, are to be entrusted with the service of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before time began and has now at last manifested himself to us. Follow the ways of God, and have respect for one another; let no one judge his neighbor as the world does, but love one another always in Jesus Christ. Let there be nothing among you that could divide you, but live in accord with the bishop and those who are over you as a sign and a pattern of eternal life.
The Lord did nothing either of himself or through his apostles without his Father, with whom he is united; so too, you should undertake nothing without the bishop and the presbyters. Do not attempt to persuade yourselves that what you do on your own account is right and proper, but when you meet together there must be one petition, one prayer, one mind, one hope in love and in holy joy, for Jesus Christ is one and perfect before all else. You must all be quick to come together, as to one temple of God, one altar, to the one Jesus Christ, who came forth from the one Father, while still remaining one with him, and returned to him.
Do not be led astray by false doctrines or by old and idle tales. For if we still live by the law, we admit that we have not received grace. But the holy prophets lived according to Jesus Christ, and that is why they were persecuted. They were inspired by his grace to bring full conviction to an unbelieving world that there is one God, manifested now through Jesus Christ his Son, his Word, who came forth from the Father and was in all things pleasing to the one who sent him.
Those who lived by the ancient customs attained a fresh hope; they no longer observed Saturday, but Sunday, the Lord’s day, for on that day life arose for us through Christ and through his death. Some deny this mystery, but through it we have received our faith and because of it we persevere, that we may prove to be disciples of our only teacher, Jesus Christ. Even the prophets awaited him as their teacher, since they were his disciples in spirit. That is why Christ, whom they rightly awaited, raised them from the dead when he appeared. How then can we live without him?
In the peace of Christ,