One was to the Church at Rome itself. He tells them that he is God's wheat and he shall be ground by the teeth of wild animals. He said that he was ready for death, because he knew where his treasure lay. In his letter he says: "No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. The time for my birth is close at hand."
The conviction of people of faith and the courage of the martyrs has always given me reason to pause. We have been so blessed, and take so much for granite, that a little adversity at times is so challenging. And yet we have never faced death as did Ignatius and those others who were given little option: be faithful and die or deny and live. The courage that it takes to embrace and express the words above in bold print can only be spoken in the grace of the Spirit of God. Thank God for the witness of the martyrs and the courage of Ignatius. The prayer for the day says it all:
"All-powerful and ever-living God, you ennoble your Church with the heroic witness of all who give their lives for Christ. Grant that the victory of Saint Ignatius of Antioch may bring us your constant help as it brought him eternal glory."