Day Three of Lent Madness, but Day One of one of St. Stephen’s holy seasons: The 24th Annual St. Stephen’s Art Show. Actually we aren’t sure how many years we’ve been doing it — one artist just told me he’s been coming for 26 years — but we’ve decided this is our 24th, which gives us a whole year to gear up for our big quarter century celebration! Load-In was a mess yesterday as it rained all day, but today is gorgeous! The forecast tomorrow is for cold — real, bone-chilling, teeth-rattling cold: temps in the mid-60’s. Laugh, you northerners, laugh but our blood really does get thinner down here.
So yesterday was a nail biter: apparently it was neck-and-neck all day between Lucy and John the B and in the end Lucy won by a hair. Mostly because a bunch of votes for John had to be eliminated. Not because they were hanging chads but because some people voted more than once. The supreme executive council of Lent Madness does not look kindly on that practice (obviously they’re not from Miami). In fact they said it makes Jesus sad. So please vote early, but don’t vote often!
Today we have two saints both named Ignatius: Ignatius of Antioch, early church father and martyr and Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Society of Jesus, aka the Jesuits. Their stories, in chrono order:
Ignatius of Antioch was martyred in the 2nd century by being thrown to the lions in the Coliseum in Rome. He was a bishop and one of the early church fathers — the “bridge” between the apostles and the early church. He is known for letters that he wrote while en route to his martyrdom, letters of encouragement to several churches. In them we see a man devoted to Christ and Christ’s church, tirelessly defending the humanity, divinity, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was a n advocate for the unity of the church. That unity came through the community’s participation in the Eucharist, which for him continued the life of Jesus Christ in the church — “breaking one bread, the medicine of immortality…” Ignatius’ theology of episcopal ministry – most especially his tireless advocacy for the Bishop to serve as a locus of unity for the church – lies at the foundation of our understanding of episcopacy in our church today, where bishops are charged at their ordination to be guardians of the faith and unity of the church. The photo on the right is not I of A being thrown to the lions but rather St. Ignatius of Antioch church in NYC where our own Fr. Howard Stowe served as rector!
Ignatius of Loyola lived in 16th century Spain and was a contemporary of our very own Thomas Cranmer (though I doubt they ever met). He began life as a soldier; while recovering from a fairly ghastly battle wound the only reading material available to him were the lives of the saints and the life of Christ. He experienced a profound conversion, and dedicated himself to a life of poverty, service and learning. His fervor drew the attention of various inquisitors during that period, and he was their “special guest” on several brief occasions. In 1534 he gathered six particular friends who shared his vision, and they founded the Society of Jesus with Ignatius as its first Superior General. They were ordained in Rome in 1537, and the order was recognized by the Vatican three years later. Ultimately the Society of Jesus, with its motto — ad maiorem Dei gloriam – for the greater glory of God, sent missionaries around the world and founded many schools, universities, and seminaries. Ignatius and the many Jesuits were prime players in Counter-Reformation efforts across Europe, including England where they nettled the nascent Anglicans. To this day Jesuits are still renowned and respected for their commitment to melding faith and intellect, as evident in the many fine Jesuit schools and universities: Georgetown, Fordham, and the various Loyolas (“Loyolae”?) come to mind as does Miami’s own Belen Jesuit Prep.
Another tough choice today! But of course I suspect they will all be tough choices, um that’s why they’re saints, right? Clearly the church owes much to both Ignatii, for an early theology of the meaning of church and the centrality of the Eucharist from A of I, and for the intellect and spirituality of I of L. I’m casting my vote this time for Loyola. Marrying intellect and faith sings deeply to this particular Episcopalian’s soul. I once had a poster that said “Jesus came to take away your sins, not your mind,” and of course the three legged stool of Anglicanism consists of Scripture, Tradition, and, wait for it…Reason.
To cast your vote, go here.
Now, back to the Art Show! I still have all the artists in the McFarlane lot and the mulched area to great!