I wish you to please God, and not men

(Bishop, Apostolic Father of the Church and Martyr)

An excerpt from The Letter to the Romans


Ignatius, called Theophorus, to the church which has found mercy in the generosity of the Father on high and of Jesus Christ, his only Son; to the church which is loved and enlightened by the Father, who wills all that exists in accordance with the love of Jesus Christ our God; to the Church which rules over the land of the Romans, a church worthy of God, worthy of honor and of praise, worthy to be called blessed, worthy to receive the answer to its prayer, pure, and preeminent in love among Christian communities, observing the law of Christ and bearing the Father’s name; I greet this church in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Father. To those who were in union, body and soul, with his every command, and filled inalienably with the grace of God, and cleansed wholly from all foreign stain, I wish every blameless joy in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Through my prayers I have been granted the favor of seeing you, my holy brothers, face to face, as indeed I have constantly asked. I now hope to embrace you as a prisoner in Christ Jesus, provided that it is God’s will for me to be found worthy to the end. For a good start has been made, if only I may gain the grace to secure my prize without hindrance. For I fear that your love may harm me. It is easy for you to do as you wish, but hard for me to attain to God if you should not allow me to be martyred.

I wish you to please God and not men—as indeed you are doing. I shall never again have such an opportunity to get to God, nor will you, if you keep silent, ever have the credit for a greater achievement. If you keep silent about me, I become a word of God; but if you love me in the flesh, I become a meaningless cry. Grant me no more than to be made a sacrifice to God while there is still an altar at hand. Thus you may form a choir of love and sing praise to the Father in Christ Jesus for so graciously summoning the bishop of Syria from the sun’s rising to come to the place of its setting. It is a fine thing for me to set with the sun, leaving the world and going to God, that I may rise in him.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen