Ignatius of Antioch
As far back as the 2nd Century, Ignatius of Antioch, one of the Apostolic Fathers, declared that the Christian Church, taken as a whole, was to be a communal entity. One of the concerns of Ignatius of Antioch was organization: throughout his letters he articulated, “Submit yourselves to the bishop as to the commandment, and likewise to the presbytery”. Thus, from its very beginnings the Church was concerned with organization and administration.
Ignatius of Antioch was a student of John the Apostle and an example of what the early Christian Church was founded upon. He was martyred while in route to Rome, fed to wild animals. His main importance to the Catholic Church rests in the fact that he authored several important letters on topics such as:
- The sacraments
- The establishment of the role of bishops in the church
For Catholics, February 1st is considered Ignatius’ feast day and is celebrated throughout the world.
Biblically, one can witness the importance of community in Acts and in the Pauline letters; in both of these St. Paul is continually exerting himself to keep the various Christian communities both functioning and orthodox. This concern with organization and administration has never been absent from the Church. While it has been one of its great strengths; it has also been the source of many problems. Throughout its history, it has had to counter claims that it is too institutional, too slow to change, too conservative, too much an entrenched bureaucracy, too much concerned with institutional matters rather than with a living, vital spirituality.