Where Is the Happy Ending?

I am the father of two young daughters who are now of an age in which playtime and imagination consist largely of princesses, princes, and other fairy things. The older child is also developing a sense of the happy ending, the resolution to the crisis encountered in the tale, the promised chaste kiss awakening to new life. It occurs to me that I may one day have to face these little ladies who will have developed the capacity to compare the reality of life to the constructions of fantasy. There is and will be, of course, as there always must be, a sharp disconnection between the happy ending of the world of romance and what is perceived to be the lack of such in day to day living. My task, of course, will be to address this seeming dichotomy. I’m not sure what I might say in that day to come. But if I’m attentive, it may sound something like this.

There are two sorts of happy endings: the happy endings of fairy tales and the happy endings of daily life. The former are the sorts of resolutions which human desire constructs; the latter what a merciful providence provides. The happy endings of fairy tales call forth in us the desire for communion. The happy endings of providence satisfy that desire for communion. The happy endings of fairy tales satisfy our expectations. The happy endings of providence transfigure our expectations. The happy endings of fairy tales reveal to us an unhappy truth: our lives are not fairy tales. The happy endings of providence reveal to us a most happy truth: our lives are not fairy tales.

There must be something in a little girl’s heart that causes her to yearn for that fairy tale happy ending. And her father, when he sees his daughter’s disappointment on realizing her fairy tale happy ending cannot come, has his heart broken a little bit, too. He, too, though he knows better, yearns for that happy ending for his little girl. But his is a different duty, a task he cannot shirk: he must take that sorrowful chin in his hand, and turn that tearful gaze of disappointment in another direction.

I am sorry that I cannot give you the happy ending that you want. I am sorry that I cannot change the circumstances which frame our lives. I am sorry that you must learn this hard truth: the happy endings we often want, or think we want, will never come. Still, Christ the Savior loves us, and if we pay attention, we can create a different story with him. Our story will have happy endings, but not the kind you find in fairy tales. These happy endings God gives us are much better, and richer, and last forever. I know you look around for a happy ending, and do not think you see one. But if you ask me, where is the happy ending? Dear one, there is only one answer to give to you: you are my happy ending.

The Translation of the Relics of Our Father Among the Saints, Ignatios the God-bearer

stignatios.jpg

Troparion of St Ignatious the Godbearer Tone 3
Soaring with love for Him Who holds thee in His hands,/ thou wast shown to be a Godbearer, O Ignatius./ Thou didst finish thy course in the West/ and pitch thy dwelling in the unwaning day of the heavens./ O righteous Father, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

Another Troparion of St Ignatius Tone 4
Like a treasure of rich and abundant gifts/ thy relics were carried piously from Rome to thy flock./ Whilst lovingly celebrating their return/ we receive the grace of healing of our souls and bodies: /and we ever sing of thy martyr’s contest, O glorious Hieromartyr Ignatius.

Kontakion of St Ignatius Tone 4
Thou didst rise in the East today,/ and having enlightened all creation with thy teachings/ thou wast adorned with martyrdom, O Godbearing and divine Ignatius.

From the Prolog:

The principal feast of St. Ignatius is celebrated in winter on December 20. On this date is commemorated the translation of his relics from Rome, where he suffered martyrdom, to Antioch where earlier he was a bishop. When St. Ignatius was summoned to Rome before Emperor Trajan to account for his faith, he was accompanied on this long journey by several citizens from Antioch who were motivated in this by a great love toward their wonderful Arch-shepherd. Since he would never deny his faith in Christ, this saint of God who abhorred all adulation and promises of Emperor Trajan, was condemned to death and was thrown into the Circus Maximus before wild beasts. The wild beasts tore him apart, and he gave up his soul to God. His companions then gathered his exposed bones and took them to Antioch and honorably buried them. But when the Persians captured Antioch in the sixth century, the relics of St. Ignatius were again translated from Antioch to Rome.

From the OCA website:

The Transfer of the Relics of the Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer: (See December 20). After the holy hieromartyr Ignatius was thrown to the lions in the year 107 on the orders of the emperor Trajan, Christians gathered up his bones and preserved them at Rome.

Later, in the year 108, the saint’s relics were collected and buried outside the gate of Daphne at Antioch. A second transfer, to the city of Antioch itself, took place in the year 438. After the capture of Antioch by the Persians, the relics of the Hieromartyr Ignatius were returned to Rome and placed into the church of the holy Hieromartyr Clement in the year 540 ( in 637, according to other sources).

St Ignatius introduced antiphonal singing into Church services. He has left us seven archpastoral epistles in which he provided instructions on faith, love and good works. He also urged his flock to preserve the unity of the faith and to beware of heretics. He encouraged people to honor and obey their bishops, “we should regard the bishop as we would the Lord Himself” (To the Ephesians 6)

In his Letter to Polycarp, St Ignatius writes: “Listen to the bishop, if you want God to listen to you… let your baptism be your shield, your faith a helmet, your charity a spear, your patience, like full armor.” (Compare Eph. 6:14-17 and the Wisdom of Solomon 5:17-20. Also THE LADDER 4:2)

Continue reading “The Translation of the Relics of Our Father Among the Saints, Ignatios the God-bearer”