Unity with the Bishop
Leads to Harmony in the Church
by St. Ignatius of Antioch
Early Church Father
It is right for you to give glory in every way to Jesus Christ who has given glory to you; you must be made holy in all things by being united in perfect obedience, in submission to the bishop and the presbyters.
I am not giving you orders as if I were a person of importance. Even if I am a prisoner for the name of Christ, I am not yet made perfect in Jesus Christ. I am now beginning to be a disciple and I am speaking to you as my fellow-disciple. It is you who should be strengthening me by your faith, your encouragement, your patience, your serenity. But since love will not allow me to be silent about you, I am taking the opportunity to urge you to be united in conformity with the mind of God. For Jesus Christ, our life, without whom we cannot live, is the mind of the Father, just as the bishops, appointed over the whole earth, are in conformity with the mind of Jesus Christ.
It is fitting, therefore, that you should be in agreement with the mind of the bishop as in fact you are. Your excellent presbyters, who are a credit to God, are as suited to the bishop as strings to a harp. So in your harmony of mind and heart the song you sing is Jesus Christ. Every one of you should form a choir, so that, in harmony of sound through harmony of hearts, and in unity taking the note from God, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father. If you do this, he will listen to you and see from your good works that you are members of his Son. It is then an advantage to you to live in perfect unity, so that at all times you may share in God.
If in a short space of time I have become so close a friend of your bishop - in a friendship not based on nature but on spiritual grounds - how much more blessed do I judge you to be, for you are as united with him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ to the Father, so that all things are in harmony through unity. Let no one make any mistake: unless a person is within the sanctuary, he is deprived of Godís bread. For if the prayer of one or two has such power, how much more has the prayer of the bishop and the whole Church.
This excerpt from St. Ignatius' Letter to the Ephesians (nn. 2, 2-5, 2: Funk 1, 175-177) was written around 110AD. It is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. St. Ignatius of Antioch is reckoned as one of the "Apostolic Fathers" because he was alive and during the lifetime of the apostles and was most probably personally influenced by them. For a more extensive introduction to St. Ignatius, click here.
The Fathers of the Church - Who They Are and Why They Matter
In a single, upbeat talk, full of examples and fascinating stories about St. Ignatius of Antioch and other intriguing personalities, Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains who people are talking about when they refer to the "Fathers of the Church" or "Early Church Fathers. Though the ranks of the fathers include a tremendous variety of cultures, locales, and personalities, there is surprising consensus that emerges from them on a variety of the most pressing questions of our day. In this dynamic talk, available on CD or audiocassette, Marcellino makes clear just how much these figures have to teach us.