February 1 -- St. Ignatius of Antioch
St. Ignatius of Antioch, as a disciple of St. John the Evangelist, believed his writings in the Apocalypse that the Church on earth should resemble Heaven as closely as possible.
To this end, he instituted the practice of singing in Church as he had seen heavenly choirs in a vision. Being a good shepherd of his flock, he protected his people from persecution by prayer and fasting. For forty years, St. Ignatius continued his stand against apostasy in this way.
Finally, he was arrested and brought before the emperor who chided him: " Who are you, poor devil, to set our commands at naught?" "Call not poor devil, one who bears God within him," St. Ignatius answered.
The emperor tried all means to persuade Ignatius to deny Christ but received the following answer: "What could such honors matter to me, a Christian, who offers every day a sacrifice of praise to the One True God and am ready to offer myself to Him." St. Ignatius gained the crown of martyrdom in the year 108 A.D.
"Call not poor devil, one who bears God within him." St. Ignatius called the Eucharist the "medicine of immortality".
We, Catholics, have this medicine readily available to us. Do we realize Its healing balm? Do we realize Its ability to strengthen our poor souls? Do we appreciate God's Goodness in such a Gift?
Let us pray to St. Ignatius of Antioch for his understanding of this Celestial Remedy so that we may be nourished with the spirit of the martyrs and be willing to die for Christ rather than deny Him.