St. Ignatius Of Antioch – The Contemplative Silence Of God

ignatius_of_antiochSt. Ignatius was a student of the Apostle John.  St. John was a contemplative.  As a convert to Christianity at an early age Ignatius would have had this aspect of his life steeped in the direct intimacy of love distilled from John’s daily effervescence.  [That would have been something to have beheld!]  John was the only one of Jesus’ apostles to die a natural death; Ignatius’ bones were broken by wild beasts before a cheering crowd in 108 A.D. upon his own simple insistence that Love triumphs over any plan that humans may devise…personal or social…a witness that still confounds and infuriates social engineers today.

For Ignatius silence is to speech, as God is to Christ.  To hear the silence of God is essential to the listener’s ability to receive the Word, and vice versa.

Whoever truly posses the Word of Jesus can also hear his silence, that they may be perfect, that through his speaking he may act and through his silence be known.

Coining the phrase, catholic (universal) church, Ignatius does not ever use the word gnosis…that the believer must have a special experience of God in order to be initiated into true Christian faith.  Listening to silence is as natural for Ignatius as is listening to speech.  Failing to do so would be as tragic as speech not being a word, but only being a voice.

God-as-present-in-silence in the church hereby becomes overwhelmingly present in the self-denial of true saints.  This is true of even our simplest everyday actions offered up to the world on behalf of Christ.

Carnal humans can no more do the works of the spirit than those who walk in the spirit can do the things of the flesh;  nor can faith do the things of infidelity nor infidelity the things of faith.  Since you do all things in Jesus Christ, even those things are spiritual which you do according to the flesh.

– St. Ignatius to the Ephesians