Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Memorial of the great St Ignatius of Antioch

This evening I went to the Venerable English College on the Via Monserrato for Mass and supper. I was invited by the new member of staff who was my year of ordination, Fr Tony Milner. During the day I had continue to plod on with my reading of St Hilary's commentary on the psalms, all of which is inspiring and very fruitful. I do my work in the library of the Casa: most of the morning, then afternoon, and tonight I felt I could continue for an hour or so after I returned from the English College.

The English College was, of course, where I studied for the priesthood, from 1986 until 1993. it has changed in many ways - and yet remained the same: as is true for all of Rome! I was very impressed by the quality of the homily at this evening's Mass, celebrated on the memorial of St Ignatius of Antioch, martyred here in Rome at the Colosseum in 107 AD: the Deacon summed up beautifully the essential doctrine of Ignatius - his presentation of the unity of the mystery of the Church, the mystery of Christ and the mystery of the Eucharist all as one mystery uniting man and God. Ignatius was a remarkable man, aflame with desire for God, a flame inspired by the Spirit living within him, which burned away all worldliness and desire for earthly gain. As he himself says in today's Office of readings from his letter to the Romans:

Earthly longings have been crucified; in me there is left no spark of desire for mundane things, but only a murmur of living water that whispers within me, 'Come to the Father.'

The Latin is beautiful and redolent for those acquainted with the Bridgettines:

Amor meus crucifixus est, nec est in me ignis materiae amans; sed vivens et loquens aqua in me est, mihi interius dicens: 'Veni ad Patrem.'

The relics of St Ignatius are now reserved under the main altar of that beautiful church not far from the Colosseum - St Clement's: a marvellous three-fold descent into the Rome of Clement, involving an encounter with the cult of Mithras, with Clement himself and also Ss Cyril and Methodius from a later time, and others besides.

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