Ignatius of Antioch


Ignatius, bishop of the large early Christian center, was put to death in the third century in the Colosseum in Rome during the reign of Trajan when he was devoured by wild animals. His death is vividly portrayed in the picture (above) in the church of San Stefano Rotondo in Rome. We celebrate his feast October 17th..

On the way to Rome, Ignatius wrote seven letters to important Christian churches. The letters show him as a skillful teacher and writer; he must have been an eloquent preacher.

In his letter to the Christians at Ephesus,  however, you sense his days for words are coming to an end. He’s entering the silence of death where words are not important, Ignatius writes–  faith and “ being faithful to the end,” are what count:

“It is better to remain silent and to be than to talk and not be. Teaching is good if the teacher also acts. One teacher ‘spoke, and it was done,’ yet what he did in silence was worthy of the Father. He who has the word of Jesus can also listen to his silence…”

What does Ignatius mean? The Word of God silent? True, in his early years at Nazareth, Jesus is silent. Before his baptism in the Jordan by John he’s  silent, until the voice of the Father says, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”

Then his public ministry began, yet many didn’t hear him at all. Finally, when he’s arrested and taken to the cross to die, the evangelists say  Jesus was silent.

Silence is part of facing the mystery of God. Here and now, some things can’t be known or explained. Like terrorism, natural disasters, the suffering of children. Why? God is silent. Again,  Ignatius:

“He who has the word of Jesus can truly listen also to his silence.”

4 thoughts on “Ignatius of Antioch

  1. internet elias

    I hear His silence and it speaks loudly. The silence says, ‘is not the life more than meat and the body more than raiment?’ (Matt 6:25) The devastation in Haiti ‘screams’ the silence. The inner man of so many of the beautiful Haitian people are ‘full’ with the ‘life’ and fulness of God. Where there is no ‘meat’….He feeds them with manna. Where there is no ‘raiment’….He clothes them with His robe.

    Beautiful post. Deep. Thanks


  2. cenaclemary12

    Thank you for reminding me that silence is golden. Words spoken are like the feathers in a down pillow. When the pillow is opened and shaken, out come the feathers. You cannot collect them because they fly in every direction. During these days of election-speak we need to filter out the words in silent space. May the Divine speak to our hearts and may our ears be open.


  3. jim

    St Ignatius, Long beach, is my home parish….a great loving community which has always reached out to the poor and under served…We welcomed
    aa to our parish over 50 years ago, we built the first inter-parish school
    in the nation in 1954 and it is run by four parishes and has been expanded lately, St Ignatius welcomed women religious come down near the beach
    and relax, St Ignatius always had room for one more…
    the heart of st Ignatius Martyr still lives at this parish, always serving, always singing always opening the heart to God, the hurricane
    could not shake this great beach parish…. Happy St Ignatius day..


  4. Berta

    Silence and the ability to listen in that silence is a tremendous challenge! It’s truly amazing and rewarding when one is able to accomplish it, if only for a few minutes. Thank you Jesus for always giving us that gift, the gift of Your word and the ability to hear it in that Silence!!!


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