Come Cross, Fire, or Mangling of Limbs

A Seven Quick Takes post, as hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler at her Conversion Diary blog


St Ignatius of Antoch
St Ignatius of Antoch

Today is the memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch.

“It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian, but to actually be one. Yes, if I prove to be one, then I can have the name…Come fire, cross, battling with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs, crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the Devil–Only let me get to Jesus Christ!”
― St. Ignatius of Antioch

In all the kerfuffle surrounding the Synod, about to conclude it’s efforts this week, it’s good to remember what St. Ignatius said so long ago, that come “battling with wild beasts, mangling of limbs, crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the Devil–Only let me get to Jesus Christ!” Our faith isn’t in the Church, it’s in the person of Jesus Christ; the Church will fade away in the last days and, above all, is a human institution.

As I said, above, the Extraordinary Synod closes on Sunday, mercifully. I say “mercifully” because it looks like so far it has produced only chaos and confusion. I have to admit, there are times when I think the Church is her own worst enemy; producing a document that makes only those who have no real love for or understanding of the Church happy seems counterproductive, at best. The bishops managed this by using language that is clear to no one, a “cardinal” error (pun intended). Yet, the draft relatio is a meaningless thing that should soon evaporate into the ether. Earlier this week I read these words, from Thomas Peters (HERE), and they are worth keeping in mind. (I originally saw this reference here.)

“There are plenty of good people who are going to interpret these recent developments as signs of the end times. That doesn’t help anything. The Holy Spirit won’t let the church fall into error, and the same Holy Spirit is calling you, and all of us, to build up the church.”

It might also be good to remember, concerning the efforts of the bishops in Rome, that all of us, including them, are mere human beings and certainly prone to error. I was reminded of this in a joke which Fr. David pastor of our parish used to open his homily this past weekend:

Fr. O’Brien, a good old Irish priest, was preparing the third grade class at the parish school for their upcoming first communion. To test their readiness, he asked the class to recite Scripture passages for each of the 7 sacraments.

“OK, who can give me a Bible passage for Baptism?”

Little Janie piped up, “Unless you are baptized in water and the Spirit, you have no life in you.”

Father said, “Very good Janie, you’ve done well in your classes, I can tell. Now, who can recite a Bible verse for the Sacrament of Reconciliation?”

Little Bobby raised his hand. “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Fr. O’Brien was very pleased and complemented Bobby for his excellent response.

Then he said, “OK, who can give me a verse for the Sacrament of Marriage?” There was dead silence and no child raised their hand.

Soon Father said, “Come now, someone must know the answer to this question!” The children could see he was getting a little impatient but still there was no response until suddenly a timid little voice could be heard from the back of the classroom, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do!”

I am going through my annual calendar hunt this year. I can’t believe it’s time to acquire a datebook already. When I retired, I expected that I would no longer need or use a planner or agenda since the days would be long and leisurely and there would be no meetings to attend and no schedule to keep. Boy, did I get that wrong. I forgot about doctor appointments, dentist appointments, clarinet lessons to remember, planning times for workouts at the gym, and so on and so forth. Even though retired, I still need to keep track of dates and times requiring my presence.

At work, I mostly used the calendar on Outlook and also kept a large(ish) generic monthly planner from Office Max or Office Depot, the At-A-Glance type. Last year, I used a loose leaf folio with Franklin Planner monthly calendar tabs. The problem with that was it’s rather bulky and difficult to carry around. I’m toying with the idea of getting a Moleskine extra large 18 month planner but have made no decision as of yet. Ah, the challenges of living the retired life.

That said, it is true that I have fewer appointments and a much looser schedule to keep. The reason I need a planner isn’t because these dates to remember are so copious, it’s because they aren’t and, if not kept track of, tend to be forgotten. I am already scheduling annual appointments and other things in the early months of 2015. If I don’t write them down, and remember where I wrote them down, I’ll soon forget they exist. Sometimes, I think this blending of days, one into another, a blessing, and I frequently try to remind myself of the importance of being fully present in the moment.

Since I’m doing weekly quotes from Thomas Merton, I thought I’d point out a development concerning his published journals on Kindle. All of them have been available on Kindle for some time but at nearly the full price you’d pay for hard copies. I’ve noticed over the last couple of months that several of the volumes are now available for less than $5.00 each, quite a bargain.

I go back and forth, sometimes several times a day, over the relative merits of having a book on Kindle vs. having, and reading, the hard copy. I think, generally, I prefer using hard copy of any given book, but when you think about buying a full set of books like Merton’s Journals, which could approach $100 in hard copy, against being able to acquire the same set electronically for less than $30, the electronic version becomes quite attractive.


5 thoughts on “Come Cross, Fire, or Mangling of Limbs

  1. Hello!

    I agree with your point number 2, regarding the need to remember who our faith is in and not to concern ourselves too much with the failings of ecclesiastical leaders, but is it not the case that the Church is a.) a human AND divine institution, and b.) that there is therefore some kind of continuity between the Church here and now and the way in which will (God willing) be ‘in’ Christ in Heaven?

    P.S. Great quote from Saint Ignatius 🙂

    1. Thank you for commenting and I’m glad you liked the St. Ignatius quote.

      I have been going back and forth from acceptance to hysteria in terms of the activities of the Synod but in the end have to keep reminding myself, this too, shall pass.

      Also, I wasn’t precise in my reference to the Church,I was referring only to the earthly Church and it’s hierarchy. I believe (please correct me if I’m wrong) that the Church teaches the papacy and episcopacy will no longer be necessary in the eternal Church.
      There are, as the Catechism states in # 954, three “states” of the Church, the Church militant, those of us here on earth, the Church suffering, those in purgatory, and the Church glorified, or, the saints in heaven. In the end, I believe, all that will be left will be the Church glorified and the eternal communion of saints. The Church is eternal, but not eternal on Earth as we now know it.

      I should have clarified what I was referring to before I finished the post but just didn’t see the misstatement.


      1. Hi,

        Thanks for your reply. Yes, I see what you mean now, was just a bit concerned that the divine element that subsists in the Church even now had not been done justice to.

        It is certainly the case that eventually all those who make up the Church in Heaven will be the Church glorified and the hierarchy will not be needed (although I would not personally discount the idea that there will be some kind of ‘degrees’ in Heaven as well – c.f.; Saint Augustine on this in the City of God) but was just drawing attention to the fact that this divine reality in some way subsists in the earthly Church even now.

        Anyway, it is clear that I had just misunderstood your meaning here, and do apologise for being a bit ‘picky’! Was just in a funny mood I guess 🙂

        P.S. Can certainly empathise with your feelings re the Synod – both the back and forth and the final acceptance.

      2. No need to apologize for the comment at all, I’m glad you did and you were right to be concerned. I know what I had in mind but that doesn’t always translate into the written word. Actually, I’ve been thinking a bit about whether there is a hierarchy in heaven myself. I was wondering if there was any Church teaching on it but didn’t see anything in the Catechism, at least at first glance. Still, I believe the Church teaches there now exists a hierarchy among the angels, so perhaps it’s reasonable to think there will be some sort of the same thing for the saints . And then, of course, we all know what Dante thought about what goes on on the other side of things.

        Thanks again for the comment.

        From the host of My Path to Rome Blog (


      3. It is an interesting thing to consider isn’t it! There is certainly some precedent in Christian literature (as you say, Dante is a notable example) and in the saints, but I am not aware of any official teaching on this either – in fact, the Church seems to have wisely limited herself on teaching much on what Heaven will be like at all.

        I do like the way Saint Augustine talks about (an idea which C. S. Lewis has adapted as well) that degrees or hierarchy still exists in Heaven precisely that we might better love one another – that if there were an equality tantamount to sameness, we would not actually enjoy an equal share in the Triune life of giving and receiving. I suppose this would then be the perfection of what hierarchies and those in positions of authority are called to be in this life – namely to enact their authority as servants, receiving their position only that they may more completely give themselves to the life of the Church as a whole.

        Thank you for your generous response – much appreciated 🙂

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