Our Church has a rich tradition. This tradition goes back to the very beginnings of the church and was passed down via the apostles. When I first started looking into the claims of the Catholic Church, I turned to the Church Fathers. I thought I would read them to prove that the early Church Fathers were not Catholic. One of those Church Fathers I came across was St. Ignatius of Antioch. His words hit me in a way that is hard to describe. I can only say that the Holy Spirit worked through his words to show me that the early church was indeed Catholic. Here are seven totally Catholic quotes from St. Ignatius of Antioch:
Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ, which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter 6).
2. See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there, let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. ((Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter 8).
3. Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the Church that has found mercy in the greatness of the Most High Father and in Jesus Christ, his only son; to the Church beloved and enlightened after the love of Jesus Christ, our God, by the will of him that has willed everything which is; to the Church which also holds the presidency in the place of the country of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of blessing, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy of sanctification, and because you hold the presidency of love, named after Christ and named after the Father; here therefore do I salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. Introduction (Letter to the Romans).
4. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter 8).
5. Those indeed, who belong to God and to Jesus Christ—they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church—they too shall be of God. . . . Do not err my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. . . . Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons (Letter to the Philadelphians, Chapter 3).
6. In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters [priests] as the council of God and college of Apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a church (Letter to the Trallians, Chapter 2).
7. Indeed, when you submit to the bishop as you would to Jesus Christ, it is clear to me that you are living not in the manner of men but as Jesus Christ, who died for us, that through faith in his death you might escape dying. It is necessary, therefore—and such is your practice—that you do nothing without the bishop, and that you be subject also to the presbytery, as to the Apostles of Jesus Christ our hope, in whom we shall be found, if we live in Him (Letter to the Magnesians, Chapter 13).
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