St Ignatius of Antioch's letter to the Romans
|I do not try to please men, but God|
From Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy through the majesty of the Most High Father and of Jesus Christ, his only Son; to the Church which is beloved and enlightened by the will of him who wills all things that are, according to the love of Jesus Christ our God; to the Church which has precedence in the lands of the Romans; to the Church which is worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of the blessing, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy in its holiness, pre-eminent in love, named after Christ, named after the Father. I greet that Church in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. To those who are united in flesh and spirit to every one of his commandments, filled with the grace of God without wavering and filtered clear from every foreign stain, abundant greeting in Jesus Christ, our God, in blamelessness.
I have prayed to the Lord to see your godly faces and I have persevered in prayer until I have been granted this — for I hope to greet you, as a prisoner in Christ Jesus, if only I am found worthy to reach the end of my journey. Things have begun well and all now depends on my receiving the grace to reach my goal and receive my inheritance unhindered. But I fear your love for me and I fear the harm it can do me: it is so easy for you to do what you want and so hard for me to reach God if you do not spare me your help.
You habitually do what pleases God: do what pleases him now and not what pleases men. I shall never have a better opportunity of reaching God, and you will never have the opportunity of performing a better act than now, by keeping silence. If you remain silent, I shall become the word of God; but if your love of my physical life makes you speak, I shall be nothing but a meaningless cry.
Grant me nothing more than this: that I should be poured out to God, while an altar is still ready for me. Form yourselves into a chorus of love and sing praise to the Father in Christ Jesus for permitting this bishop of Syria to be summoned from the place of the sun’s rising to the sunset lands. Just as the sun sets only to rise again, how good it is to set to this world, to set and then to rise in God.