During his journey to Rome, under guard, to be martyred there in about 107 AD, Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote seven letters. These letters are extant, and of great doctrinal value.
One of these was addressed to Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna from about 96 AD until his own martyrdom in 155 AD. In the latter part of the letter Ignatius addresses the whole Smyrnaean congregation exhorting them to maintain vigour and unity in their spiritual warfare.
However, the earlier part of the letter contains advice to Polycarp, where we can read the following.. ‘Hold services more frequently and hunt up everyone by name. You must not be overbearing in your manner …’
Just a week before Wales moved to Level zero in the easing of COVID restrictions, I re-read those words, and thought how appropriate they are to this stage of the re-opening of churches to their capacity and our recovery of the full celebration of the Eucharist. Also, I considered how sensitive we must be as we welcome back, and invite afresh, the members of our communities who are yet to return to participation in the Mass which only our physical presence can fully achieve.
Of course, there are those who remain anxious about returning among a large number of people in an enclosed place and will feel vulnerable; we must respect that and act in a way that is not threatening to them. But nevertheless you can invite ‘everyone by name’ and so help me in my ministry.
‘Farewell always in our God Jesus Christ. Rest in him, in the unity and under the oversight of God.’ (Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp)
I hope you have a safe, enjoyable, and relaxing summer with family and friends.
P.S. I look forward to seeing many of you at the Grandparents event on Sunday 19th September at Noddfa.