Ignatius of Antioch, old but self-possessed, goes off to Rome and martyrdom in the arena; ardent, focused, burning with love for Christ. He begs not to be deterred from his goal:
All the way from Syria to Rome I am fighting with wild beasts, by land and sea, night and day, chained as I am to ten leopards (I mean to a detachment of soldiers), who only get worse the better you treat them. But by their injustices I am becoming a better disciple, “though not for that reason am I acquitted.” What a thrill I shall have from the wild beasts that are ready for me! I hope they will make short work of me. I shall coax them on to eat me up at once and not to hold off, as sometimes happens, through fear. And if they are reluctant, I shall force them to it. Forgive me— I know what is good for me. Now is the moment I am beginning to be a disciple. May nothing seen or unseen begrudge me making my way to Jesus Christ. 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!
Not the wide bounds of earth nor the kingdoms of this world will avail me anything. “I would rather die” and get to Jesus Christ, than reign over the ends of the earth. That is whom I am looking for— the One who died for us. That is whom I want— the One who rose for us. I am going through the pangs of being born. Sympathize with me, my brothers! Do not stand in the way of my coming to life— do not wish death on me. Do not give back to the world one who wants to be God’s; do not trick him with material things.
Odilon Redon, The Sacred Heart. Lines from Saint Ignatius: Letter to the Romans .
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