Saint Ignatius of Antioch was introduced to me by our parish priest at a recent homily.
He was a first century saint and was born in Syria. Ignatius converted
to Christianity and eventually became bishop of Antioch. In the year 107, Emperor Trajan visited Antioch and forced the Christians there to choose between death and apostasy. Ignatius would not deny Christ and thus was condemned to be put to death in Rome.
Ignatius’s great concern was for the unity and order of the Church.
Even greater was his willingness to suffer martyrdom rather than deny his Lord Jesus Christ. He did not draw attention to his own suffering, but to the love of God which strengthened him. He knew the price of commitment and would not deny Christ, even to save
his own life.
He willingly suffered martyrdom. The day of his martyrdom,
he was thrown into the Colosseum. Built in 70 A.D. Rome's Colosseum has been the site of celebrations, sporting events and bloodshed. It is a place where the early Christians were mauled to death by the
lions for their believe in Jesus and His Church.
Ignatius was dressed in his priestly garments as he entered the Colosseum. As the lions attacked his left and right side of him, Ignatius raised his hands to Heaven. The lions hung on to his flesh, but he continued to
keep his hands, heart and eyes raised to Heaven.
I was inspired at the image of two lions hanging on to his flesh yet Ignatius kept his eyes on Jesus and his Heavenly home. I thought about how we each have our 'lions' hanging on to us trying to pull us down.
What are these 'lions' gnawing and chewing
at us from each side? It could be our addictions that will not let go easily. It could be our worry and anxiety that is trying to consume us and beat us down. It could be our doubts that keep us from fully trusting in Jesus in all things. It could be our pride
that shouts “You don't need God.”
We can like Saint Ignatius trust and raise our hands to God our Father and proclaim, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.”
Psalm 25: 1-2
for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10