Today in the Orthodox Church we remember the Martyred Bishop of Antioch, St. Ignatius the Godbearer. Below are a few words about St. Ignatius taken from an old Christian Education publication, Personalities Who Shaped the Church (pp 3-4):
It was the year A.D. 107 when Trajan, a Roman emperor, came back victorious from a war against the Dacians and Scythians. As soon as he entered the glorious city of Antioch, he let the Christians know that the persecution against them was not yet over.
One night a great celebration was given in his honor. Trajan, out of gratitude to his gods, ordered precious incense to be burned. But he thirsted for more victories and more blood.
“Roman citizens…tonight we honor our divinities, for they have deemed us worthy to gain more victories…But our victory cannot be complete until we defeat Christians, those bitter enemies of our empire who refuse to acknowledge our gods.”
“Keep on praying for those who persecute you. Return their bad temper with gentleness, their boasts with humility, and their violence with mildness. Never be eager to retaliate. Try to please not yourselves but God.
Toil together, struggle together, run together, suffer together, rejoice together, as servants and assistants of God. Let none of you be found a deserter. Let your baptism serve as a shield, your faith as a helmet, your love as a spear, your endurance as full armor. So be patient with one another in gentleness, as God is with you.”