Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was a student of St. John the Apostle. Not bad. I love how in the image above, Our Lord is reaching toward St. Ignatius and handing to him His Sacred Heart, crowned with thorns, and pierced.
When I was reading my way into The Church (and being so scandalized by the Kennedys that I kept delaying my entry), one of the most helpful books I read was called “The Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words“, which is a compendium of quotations by the early Church Fathers, namely Ignatius of Antioch (died ARSH 110), Clement of Rome (died ARSH 99, consecrated a bishop by St. Peter), Justin Martyr (died ARSH 165), and Irenaeus of Lyon (student of Polycarp who was a student of John the Apostle, died ARSH 202). If you are genuinely interested in what EXACTLY was going on in the days, weeks and decades after Our Lord’s Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, and the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, I highly recommend reading the words of the Church Fathers themselves. It’s all there: the Mass, the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, sacramental confession of sins, hierarchical structure of the Church Militant, everything.
Here is a quote from St. Ignatius.
In like manner, everyone who has received from God the power of distinguishing and yet follows an unskillful pastor and receives a false opinion for the truth shall be punished…
Be not deceived: if any man follows him who separates from the truth, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and if any man does not stand aloof from the preacher of falsehood he shall be condemned to Hell.
-St. Ignatius of Antioch
Boy, how timely and relevant is this? Remember folks, every one of us will stand ALONE before Christ at our Particular Judgment. There will be no finger pointing, no blaming of others. Every human being with the “power of distinguishing”, which means above the age of reason, and not suffering from mental retardation or other physical limitation to reasoned thought and apprehension of objective reality, will be held responsible for their actions.
Many people today are desperately trying to convince themselves and others that only degreed theologians or canon lawyers are competent to “distinguish”. This is a LIE. And it is so transparently ridiculous a lie as to be laugh-out-loud-able. We know from the Good Shepherd discourse, Our Lord’s words to the disciples of John the Baptist, the example of the Good Thief, and the witness of the Martyrs, many of whom were peasants, soldiers, and even children (St. Agnes of Rome was 13), coupled with the observation of the ever-escalating catastrophic failure of theologians and canonists of the past century, and plain old common sense, that “the power of distinguishing” belongs to all of us, and we are all expected to use it.
Trailing off after an arch-heretic Antipope, and likely False Prophet Forerunner of the Antichrist, in the name of “obedience” and “humility” or even some perverse notion of “piety” will NOT go over well. “But… but… but…the wolves and faithless hirelings and people with doctorates from Pontifical Universities told me it was okay….” Balderdash.