Saturday, January 13, 2007

Tearings, breakings and dislocations

I've just begun reading Mike Aquilina's wonderful book, The Fathers of the Church. While I haven't yet made my way through much of it, I now have an inordinate hankerin' to find a copy of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, among many others and really dig into patristics in a major way. The field is so rich, and their words so eloquent, one cannot spend any time with them and not feel changed in some way.

This little snip is from St. Ignatius of Antioch, written during his travel to Rome to face execution under the emperor Trajan. To read his graphic description of what he knew awaited him and yet to see it immediately countered with his great desire to face this test, or in his terms, to "attain to Jesus Christ" is at once unnerving and heartening. Would that we all could face the challenges to our faith made by this world with such enthusiasm and vigor.

Pardon me: I know what is for my benefit. Now I begin to be a disciple. And let no one, visible or invisible, envy me that I should attain to Jesus Christ. Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocations of bones; let cutting off of members; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the dreadful torments of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ.