Beginning Ignatius’ letter to Polycarp
Well, we’re finally here! The last letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch! I’m posting this a bit earlier than usual because the next couple of weeks are going to be rather busy.
Each of the Ignatius’ letters are special for different reasons, but his letter to Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, holds a special place in my heart.
In some ways it reminds me of the book of Proverbs, since Ignatius often offers Polycarp advice in the form of short exhortations.
This is the only personal letter Ignatius wrote to a fellow bishop and should, in my not so humble opinion, be required reading for all pastors and all those who minister in the Church.
When I have friends who enter the seminary, they usually receive a card from me with a quotation which comes from somewhere in this letter. Whenever I become discouraged in the ministries in which I serve, this is the document I usually dig out.
I said this was Ignatius’ last letter, but that is not strictly true, for there was one final letter he wrote, to both his “God Jesus Christ” and to the “Catholic Church”. However, this was a letter of a different kind… Rather than being written in private, this letter was written in an amphitheatre before thousands of jeering Romans. Rather than using parchment, he used his own flesh and, in place of ink, his own blood.
St. Ignatius, pray for us.