Leo the Great: sermons 2078
I. Since the Apostles’ Day Till Now Self-Restraint is the Best Defence Against the Devil’s Assaults.
To-day’s festival, dearly-beloved, hallowed by the descent of the Holy Ghost, is followed, as you know by a solemn fast, which being a salutary institution for the healing of soul and body, we must keep with devout observance. For when the Apostles had been filled with the promised power, and the Spirit of Truth had entered their hearts, we doubt not that among the other mysteries of heavenly doctrine this discipline of spiritual self-restraint was first thought of at the prompting of the Paraclete in order that minds sanctified by fasting might be fitter for the chrism to be bestowed on them1 . The disciples of Christ had the protection of the Almighty aid, and the chiefs of the infant Church were guarded by the whole Godhead of the Father and the Son through the presence of the Holy Ghost. But against the threatened attacks of persecutors, against the terrifying shouts of the ungodly, they could not fight with bodily strength or pampered flesh, since that which delights the outer does most harm to the inner man, and the more one’s fleshly substance is kept in subjection, the more purified is the reasoning soul).
II. The Templer is Foiled in Attacks Upon Those Who Have Learnt These Tactics.
And so those teachers, who have instructed all the Church’s sons by their examples and their traditions, began the rudiments of the Christian warfare with holy fasts, that, having to fight against spiritual wickednesses, they might take the armour of abstinence, wherewith to slay the incentives to vice. For invisible foes and incorporeal enemies will have no strength against us, if we be not entangled in any lusts of the flesh. The desire to hurt us is indeed ever active in the tempter, but he will be disarmed and powerless, if he find no vantage around within us from which to attack us. But who, encompassed with this frail flesh, and placed in this body of death, even one who has made much decided progress, can be so sure of his safety now, as to believe himself free from the peril of all allurements? Although Divine Grace gives daily victory to His saints2 , yet He does not remove the occasion for fighting, because this very fact is part of our Protector’s Mercy, Who has always designed that something should remain for our ever-changing nature to win, lest it should boast itself on the ending of the battle.
III. And So This Fast Comes Very Opportunely After the Feast of Whitsuntide.
Therefore, after the days of holy gladness, which we have devoted to the honour of the Lord rising from the dead and then ascending into heaven, and after receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a fast is ordained as a wholesome and needful practice, so that, if perchance through neglect or disorder even amid the joys of the festival any undue licence has broken out, it may be corrected by the remedy of strict abstinence, which must be the more scrupulously carried out in order that what was on this day Divinely bestowed on the Church may abide in us. For being made the Temple of the Holy Ghost, and watered with a greater supply than ever of the Divine Stream, we ought not to be conquered by any lusts nor held in possession by any vices in order that the habitation of Divine power may be stained with no pollution.
IV. And by Proper Use of It We Shall Win God’s Favour.
And this assuredly it is possible for all to obtain, God helping and guiding us, if by the purification of fasting and by merciful liberality, we take pains to be set free from the filth of sins, and to be rich in the fruits of love. For whatever is spent in feeling the poor, in healing the sick, in ransoming prisoners, or in any other deeds of piety, is not lessened but increased, nor will that ever be lost in the sight of God which the loving-kindness of the faithful has expended, seeing that whatever a man gives in relief, he lays up for his own reward. For “blessed are the merciful, since God shall have mercy on them3 ;” nor wilt shortcomings be remembered, where the presence of true religion has been attested. On Wednesday and Friday, therefore, let us fast, and on Saturday let us keep vigil in the presence of the most blessed Apostle, Peter, by whose prayers we surely trust to be set free both from spiritual foes and bodily enemies; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
I. Rome Owes Its High Position to These Apostles.
The whole world, dearly-beloved, does indeed take part in all holy anniversaries, and loyalty to the one Faith demands that whatever is recorded as done for all men’s salvation should be everywhere celebrated with common rejoicings. But, besides that reverence which to-day’s festival has gained from all the world, it is to be honoured with special and peculiar exultation in our city, that there may be a predominance of gladness on the day of their martyrdom in the place where the chief of the Apostles met their glorious end2 . For these are the men, through whom the light of Christ’s gospel shone on thee, O Rome, and through whom thou, who wast the teacher of error, wast made the disciple of Truth. These are thy holy Fathers and true shepherds, who gave thee claims to be numbered among the heavenly kingdoms, and built thee under much better and happier auspices than they, by whose zeal the first foundations of thy walls were laid: and of whom the one that gave thee thy name defiled thee with his brother’s blood3 . These are they who promoted thee to such glory, that being made a holy nation, a chosen people, a priestly and royal state4 , and the head of the world through the blessed Peter’s holy See thou didst attain a wider sway. by the worship of God than by earthly government. For although thou weft increased by many victories, and didst extend thy rule on land and sea, yet what thy toils in war subdued is less than what the peace of Christ has conquered.
II. The Extension of the Roman Empire Was Part of the Divine Scheme.
For the good, just, and Almighty God, Who has never withheld His mercy from mankind, and has ever instructed all men alike in the knowledge of Himself by the most abundant benefits, has by a more secret counsel and a deeper love shown pity upon the wanderers’ voluntary blindness and proclivities to evil, by sending His co-equal and co-eternal Word. Which becoming flesh so united the Divine Nature with the human that He by lowering His Nature to the uttermost has raised our nature to the highest. But that the result of this unspeakable Grace might be spread abroad throughout the world, God’s Providence made ready the Roman empire, whose growth has reached such limits that the whole multitude of nations are brought into close connexion. For the Divinely-planned work particularly required that many kingdoms should be leagued together under one empire, so that the preaching of the world might quickly reach to all people, when they were held beneath the rule of one state. And yet that state, in ignorance of the Author of its aggrandisement though it rule almost all nations, was enthralled by the errors of them all, and seemed to itself to have fostered religion greatly, because it rejected no falsehood. And hence its emancipation through Christ was the more wondrous that it had been so fast bound by Satan.
III. On the Dispersing of the Twelve, St. Peter Was Sent to Rome.
For when the twelve Apostles, after receiving through the Holy Ghost the power of speaking with all tongues, had distributed the world into parts among themselves, and undertaken to instruct it in the Gospel, the most blessed Peter, chief of the Apostolic band, was appointed to the citadel of the Roman empire, that the light of Truth which was being displayed for the salvation of all the nations, might spread itself more effectively throughout the body of the world from the head itself. What nation had not representatives then living in this city; or what peoples did not know what Rome had learnt? Here it was that the tenets of philosophy must be crushed, here that the follies of earthly wisdom must be dispelled, here that the cult of demons must be refuted, here that theblasphemy of all idolatries must be rooted out, here where the most persistent superstition had gathered together all the various errors which had anywhere been devised.
IV. St. Peter’s Love Conquered His Fears in Coming to Rome.
To this city then, most blessed Apostle Peter, thou dost not fear to come, and when the Apostle Paul; the partner of thy glory, was still busied with regulating other churches, didst enter this forest of roaring beasts, this deep, stormy ocean with greater boldness than when thou didst walk upon the sea. And thou who hadst been frightened by the high priest’s maid in the house of Caiaphas, hadst no fear of Rome the mistress of the world. Was there any less power in Claudius, any less cruelty in Nero than in the judgment of Pilate or the Jews’ savage rage? So then it was the force of love that conquered the reasons for fear: and thou didst not think those to be feared whom thou hadst undertaken to love. But this feeling of fearless affection thou hadst even then surely conceived when the profession of thy love for the Lord was confirmed by the mystery of the thrice-repeated question. And nothing else was demanded of this thy earnest purpose than that thou shouldst bestow the food wherewith thou hadst thyself been enriched, on feeding His sheep whom thou didst love.
V. S. Peter Was Providentially Prepared for His Great Mission.
Thy confidence also was increased by many miraculous signs, by many gifts of grace, by many proofs of power. Thou hadst already taught the people, who from the number of the circumcised had believed: thou hadst already founded the Church at Antioch, where first the dignity of the Christian name arose: thou hadst already instructed Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, in the laws of the Gospel-message: and, without doubt as to the success of the work, with full knowledge of the short span of thy life didst carry the trophy of Christ’s cross into the citadel of Rome, whither by the Divine fore-ordaining there accompanied thee the honour of great power and the glory of much suffering.
VI. Many Noble Martyrs Have Sprung from the Blood of Ss. Peter and Paul.
Thither came also thy blessed brother-Apostle Paul, “the vessel of election5 ,” and the special teacher of the Gentiles, and was associated with thee at a time when all innocence, all modesty, all freedom was into jeopardy under Nero’s rule. Whose fury, inflamed by excess of all vices, hurled him headlong into such a fiery furnace of madness that he was the first to assail the Christian name with a general persecution, as if God’s Grace could be quenched by the death of saints, whose greatest gain it was to win eternal happiness by contempt of this fleeting life. “Precious,” therefore, “in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints6 :” nor can any degree of cruelty destroy the religion which is founded on the mystery of Christ’s cross. Persecution does not diminish but increase the church, and the Lord’s field is clothed with an ever richer crop, while the grains, which fall singly, spring up and are multiplied a hundred-fold7 . Hence how large a progeny have sprung from these two Heaven-sown seeds is shown by the thousands of blessed martyrs, who, rivalling the Apostles’ triumphs, have traversed the city far and wide in purple-clad and ruddy-gleaming throngs, and crowned it, as it were with a single diadem of countless gems.
VII. No Distinction Must Be Drawn Between the Merits of the Two.
And over this band, dearly-beloved, whom God has set forth for our example in patience and for our confirmation in the Faith, there must be rejoicing everywhere in the commemoration of all the saints, but of these two Fathers’ excellence we must rightly make our boast in louder joy, for God’s Grace has raised them to so high a place among the members of the Church, that He has set them like the twin light of the eyes in the body, whose Head is Christ. About their merits and virtues, which pass all power of speech, we must not make distinctions, because they were equal in their election8 , alike in their toils, undivided in their death. But as we have proved for Ourselves, and our forefathers maintained, we believe, and are sure that, amid all the toils of this life, we must always be assisted in obtaining God’s Mercy by the prayers of special interceders, that we may be raised by the Apostles’ merits in proportion as we are weighed down by our own sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.
1 Cf. note 9 on Lett. CLVI. chap. 5).
2 Cf. Serm. LXXXVIII. chap. 3, licet quotidiano Dei munere a diversis contaminationibus emundemur, inhaerent tamen incautis animis maculoe crassiores quas aborteat diligentiori cura ablui.
3 Mt 5,7.
1 Natali, lit. birthday; but the early Church gave this beautiful name to, and kept the memory of Saints on, the day of their death. (cf. below, in die martyrii eorum) in all cases except that of S. John the Baptist (from the importance of his natural birthday in connexion with the LORD’s Nativity). The Conversion of S. Paul is a later exception.
2 It is of course well known that this is very debatable ground, and as such, it is wiser to leave it untouched in a work which is only intended as a means of of rendering English-speaking people aquainted with Leo’s views and statements. It will be noticed however, that the historically verified connexion of S. Paul with Rome is as nothing in his eyes in comparison with the very apocryphal connexion of S. Peter: cf. below, per sacram beati Petri sedem, on which the Ballerinii very appropriately quote Prosper de Ingratis: - Sedes Roma Petri, quoe pastoralis honore facta caput mundo, quidquid non possidet armis religione tenet.The Roman Calendar still retains the double commemoration of June 29.
3 i.e. Romulus (the traditional founder of Rome) murdered his brother, Remus.
4 Cf. 1P 2,9.
5 Ac 9,15,
6 Ps 116,15,
7 This is a commonplace with the Fathers: S. Augustine is esp. fond of it; Hurter quotes from him de catech.rud. chap. xxiv. and four times on the Psalms. Cf. Serm. XXXVI. chap. 3,n. 1.
8 Electio pares (fecit) omitted by the oldest Vatican ms. but undoubtedly genuine, the allusion being obviously to S. Paul’s claim to equal apostleship with the Twelve more than once advanced (e.g. 2Co 11,5, &c).. This then is an interesting passage when read side by side with Leo’s Petrine claims, but does not really contradict them, though the lauguage here used, esp. the figure of the two eyes, is strong.
I. The Churchmen of Rome are in Danger of Forgetting Past Judgments and Mercies, and Becoming Ungrateful to God.
The fewness of those who were present has of itself shown, dearly-beloved, that the religious devotion wherewith, in commemoration of the day of our chastisement and release, the whole body of the faithful used to flock together in order to give God thanks, has on this last occasion been almost entirely neglected: and this has caused me much sadness of heart and great fear. For there is much danger of men becoming ungrateful to God, and through forgetfulness of His benefits not feeling sorrow for the chastisement, nor joy for the liberation. Accordingly I fear, dearly-beloved, lest that utterance of the Prophet be addressed in rebuke to such men, which says, “thou hast scourged them and they have not grieved: thou hast chastised them, and they have refused to receive correction2 ” For what amendment is shown by them in whom such aversion to God’s service is found? One is ashamed to say it, but one must not keep silence: more is spent upon demons than upon the Apostles, and mad spectacles draw greater crowds than blessed martyrdoms3 . Who was it that restored this city to safety? that rescued it from captivity? the games of the circus-goers or the care of the saints? surely it was by the saints’ prayers that the sentence of Divine displeasure was diverted, so that we who deserved wrath, were reserved for pardon.
II. Let Them Avail Themselves Betimes of God’s Long-Suffering and Return to Him.
I entreat you, beloved, let those words of the Saviour touch your hearts, Who, when by the power of His mercy He had cleansed ten lepers, said that only one of them all had returned to give thanks4 : meaning without doubt that, though the ungrateful ones had gained soundness of body, yet their failure in this godly duty arose from ungodliness of heart. And therefore, dearly-beloved, that this brand of ingratitude may not be applied to you, return to the Lord, remembering the marvels which He has deigned to perform among us; and ascribing. our release not, as the ungodly suppose, to the influences of the stars, but to the unspeakable mercy of Almighty God, Who has deigned to soften the hearts of raging barbarians, betake yourselves to the commemoration of so great a benefit with all the vigour of faith. Grave neglect must be atoned for by yet greater tokens of repentance. Let us use the Mercy of Him, Who has spared us, to our own amendment, that the blessed Peter and all the saints, who have always been near us in many afflictions, may deign to aid our entreaties for you to the merciful God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1 There is some doubt as to the exact occasion of this sermon. It seems to have been connected with the yearly commemoration (not the first or second from the language Leo uses), of that 14 days’ pillage of Rome by Genseric (in 455) and of the city’s subsequent liberaton, in which Leo took so important a part. But the date ascribed to the sermon’s delivery (the octave of SS. Peter and Paul, i.e. July 6) does not tally well with its allusions to the ludi circenses as counter-attractions to the recent Church functions. A reference to Serm. IX. n. 6, will remind the reader that it was the ludi Apollinares that, at least in the past, were associated with that date: perhaps Leo’s phrase ludus Circensium is only a general description and would include the Apollinarian games as being still held in Circo as well as others. The ludi Circenses themselves were held Sept. 4-12.
2 Jr 5,3,
3 Martyria, which the Ball. here consider means the churches built in honour (?on the scene) of the martyrdoms).
4 Cf. Lc 17,18.
I. The Example of the Martyrs is Most Valuable
Whilst the height of all virtues, dearly-beloved, and the fulness of all righteousness is born of that love, wherewith God and one’s neighbour is loved, surely in none is this love found more conspicuous and brighter than in the blessed martyrs; who are as near to our Lord Jesus, Who died for all men, in the imitation of His love, as in the likeness of their suffering. For, although that Love, wherewith the Lord has redeemed us, cannot be equalled by any man’s kindness, because it is one thing that a man who is doomed to die one day should die for a righteous man, and another that One Who is free from the debt of sin should lay down His life for the wicked2 : yet the martyrs also have done great service to all men, in that the Lord Who gave them boldness, has used it to show that the penalty of death and the pain of the cross need not be terrible to any of His followers, but might be imitated by many of them. If therefore no good man is good for himself alone, and no wise man’s wisdom befriends himself only, and the nature of true virtue is such that it leads many away from the dark error on which its light is shed, no model is more useful in teaching God’s people than that of the martyrs. Eloquence may make intercession easy, reasoning may effectually persuade; but yet examples are stronger than words, and there is more teaching in practice than in precept.
II. The Saint’s Martyrdom Described.
And how gloriously strong in this most excellent manner of doctrine the blessed martyr Laurentius is, by whose sufferings to-day is marked, even his persecutors were able to feel, when they found that his wondrous courage, born principally of love for Christ, not only did not yield itself, but also strengthened others by the example of his endurance. For when the fury of the gentile potentates was raging against Christ’s most chosen members, and attacked those especially who were of priestly rank, the wicked persecutor’s wrath was vented on Laurentius the deacon, who was pre-eminent not only in the performance of the sacred rites, but also in the management of the church’s property3 , promising himself double spoil from one man’s capture: for if he forced him to surrender the sacred treasures, he would also drive him out of the pale of true religion. And so this man, so greedy of money and such a foe to the truth, arms himself with double weapon: with avarice to plunder the gold; with impiety to carry off Christ. He demands of the guileless guardian of the sanctuary that the church wealth on which his greedy mind was set should be brought to him. But the holy deacon showed him where he had them stored, by pointing to the many troops of poor saints, in the feeding and clothing of whom he had a store of riches which he could hot lose, and which were the more entirely safe that the money had been spent on so holy a cause.
III.the Description of His Sufferings Continued.
The baffled plunderer, therefore, frets, and blazing out into hatred of a religion, which had put riches to such a use, determines to pillage a still greater treasure by carrying off that sacred deposit4 , wherewith he was enriched, as he could find no solid hoard of money in his possession. He orders Laurentius to renounce Christ, and prepares to ply the deacon’s stout courage with frightful tortures: and, when the first elicit nothing, fiercer follow. His limbs, torn and mangled by many cutting blows, are commanded to be broiled upon the fire in an iron framework5 , which was of itself already hot enough to burn him, and on which his limbs were turned from time to time, to make the torment fiercer, and the death more lingering.
IV. Laurentius Has Conquered His Persecutor.
Thou gainest nothing, thou prevailest nothing, O savage cruelty. His mortal frame is released from thy devices, and, when Laurentius departs to heaven, thou art vanquished. The flame of Christ’s love could not be overcome by thy flames, and the fire which burnt outside was less keen than that which blazed within. Thou didst but serve the martyr in thy rage, O persecutor: thou didst but swell the reward in adding to the pain. For what did thy cunning devise, which did not redound to the conqueror’s glory, when even the instruments of torture were counted as part of the triumph? Let us rejoice, then, dearly-beloved, with spiritual joy, and make our boast over the happy end of this illustrious man in the Lord, Who is “wonderful in His saints6 ,” in whom He has given us a support and an example, and has so spread abroad his glory throughout the world, that, from the rising of the sun to its going down, the brightness of his deacon’s light doth shine, and Rome is become as famous in Laurentius as Jerusalem was ennobled by Stephen. By his prayer and intercession7 we trust at all times to be assisted; that, because all, as the Apostle says, “who wish to live holily in Christ, suffer persecution8 ,” we may be strengthened with the spirit of love, and be fortified to overcome all temptations by the perseverance of steadfast faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.
1 S. Laurence was the chief Deacon in the time of Sextus II., and was martyred in the persecution of Valerian, 258, in the way detailed by Leo in this Sermon. His was a very favourite festival in the Middle Ages both in the East and West.
2 Cf. Rm 5,7-8.
3 It will be remembered that “the serving of tables” was from the first institution of the office one of the principal duties of the deacon (levita), see Ac 6,1-6. This side of the office has latterly fallen into abeyance and is but slightly recognized in the English Ordinal).
4 Depositum, viz. his faith, the paraqhvkh 1Tm 6,20.
5 Per cratem ferream usually represented in pictures, or statues of the saints as a gridiron.
6 Ps 68,35,
7 Cf. Sermon LXXXII c. 7.
8 2Tm 3,12.
I. The Fasts, Which the Ancient Prophets Proclaimed, are Still Necessary.
Of what avail, dearly-beloved, are religious fasts in winning the mercy of God, and in renewing the fortunes of human frailty, we know from the statements of the holy Prophets, who proclaim that justice of God, Whose vengeance the people of Israel had again and again incurred through their iniquities, cannot be appeased save by fasting. Thus it is that the Prophet Jl warns them, saying, “thus saith the Lord your God, turn ye to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning, and rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn ye to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and patient, and of great kindness, and very merciful2 ,” and again, “sanctify a fast, proclaim a healing, assemble the people, sanctify the church3 .” And this exhortation must in our days also be obeyed, because these healing remedies must of necessity be proclaimed by us too, in order that in the observance of the ancient sanctification Christian devotion may gain what Jewish transgression lost.
II. Public Services are of a Higher Character Than Private.
But the respect that is paid to the Divine decrees always brings a special blessing, whatever may be the extent of our voluntary services, so that publicly proclaimed celebrations are of a higher character than those which rest on private institution4 . For the exercise of self-restraint, which each individual imposes on himself at his own discretion, concerns thebenefit of a certain portion only of the Church, but the fast which the whole Church undergoes leaves out no one from the general purification, and God’s people’ then become strongest, when the hearts of all the faithful meet together in one common act of holy obedience, when in the camp of the Christian army there is on all sides the same making ready for the fight and for defence. Though the cruel enemy rage in restless fury, and spread all round his hidden snares, yet he will be able to catch no one and wound no one, if he find no one off his guard, no one given up to sloth, nO one inactive in works of piety.
III. The September Fast Calls Us in This Public Way to Self-Amendment.
To this unconquerable strength of unity, therefore, dearly-beloved, we are even now invited by the solemn Fast of the Seventh Month, that we may lift our souls to the Lord free from worldly cares and earthly concerns. And because, always needful as this endeavour is, we cannot all adhere to it perpetually, and often through human frailty we fall back from higher things to the things of earth, let us at least on these days, which are most healthfully ordained for our correction, withdraw ourselves from worldly occupations, and steal a little time for promoting our eternal welfare. “For in many things,” as it is written, “we all stumble5 .” And though by the daily gift of God6 we be cleansed from divers pollutions, yet there cling to unwary souls for the most part darker stains, which need a greater care to wash them out, a stronger effort to destroy them. And the fullest abolition of sins is obtained when the whole Church offers up one prayer and one confession. For if the Lord has promised fulfilment of all they shall ask, to the holy and devout agreement of two or three, what shall be denied to many thousands of the people who unite in one act of worship, and with one breath make their common supplications7 ?
IV. Community of Goods and of Actions is Most Precious in God’s Sight.
It is a great and very precious thing, beloved, in the Lord’s sight, when Christ’s whole people engage together in the same duties, and all ranks and degrees of either sex co-operate with the same intent: when one purpose animates all alike of declining from evil and doing good; when God is glorified in the works of His slaves, and the Author of all godliness8 is blessed in unstinted giving of thanks. The hungry are nourished, the naked are clothed, thesick are visited, and men seek not their own but “that which is another’s9 ,” so long as in relieving the misery of others each one makes the most of his own means; and it is easy to find “a cheerful giver10 ,” where a man’s performances are only limited by the extent of his power. By this grace of God, “which worketh all in all11 ,” the benefit: and the deserts of the faithful are both enjoyed in common. For they, whose income is not like, can yet think alike, and when one rejoices over another’s bounty his feelings put him on the same level with him whose powers of spending are on a different level. In such a community there is no disorder nor diversity, for all the members of the whole body agree in one strong purpose of godliness, and he who glories in the wealth of others is not put to shame at his own poverty. For the excellence of each portion is the glory of the whole body, and when we are all led by God’s Spirit, not only are the things we do ourselves our own but those of others also over the doing of which we rejoice.
V. Let Us Then Make the Best Use Possible of the Opportunity.
Let us then, dearly-beloved, lay hold upon this most sacred unity in all its blessed integrity and engage in the solemn fast with the concordant purpose of a good will. Nothing hard, nothing harsh is asked of anyone, nor is anything imposed beyond our strength, whether in the discipline of abstinence or in the amount of alms. Each knows what he can and what he cannot do: let every one pay his quota, assessing himself at a just and reasonable rate, that the sacrifice of mercy be not offered sadly nor reckoned among losses. Let so much be expended on pious work, as will justify the heart, wash the conscience, and in a word profit both giver and receiver. Happy indeed is that soul and truly to be admired which in its love of doing good fears not the failing of the means, and has no distrust that He will give him money still to spend, from Whom he had what he spent in the past. But because few possess this greatness of heart, and yet it is truly a pious thing for each one not to forsake the care of his own, we, without prejudice to the more perfect sort, lay down for you this general rule and exhort you to perform God’s bidding according to the measure of your ability. For cheerfulness becomes the benevolent man, who should so manage his liberality that while the poor rejoice over the help supplied, home needs may not suffer. “And He that ministers seed to the sower, shall both provide bread to be eaten and multiply your seed and increase the fruits of your righteousness12 .” On Wednesday and Friday therefore let us fast; and on Saturday keep vigil all together13 in the presence of the most blessed Apostle Peter, by whose merits and prayers we are sure God’s mercy will be vouchsafed to us in all things through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
1 That is the September, or as we should now say, the Michael-mas Embertide.
2 Jl 2,12-13 Jl 2,15-16.
3 Jl 2,12-13 Jl 2,15-16.
4 (He pursues the same thought in chap. 2 of Sermon LXXXIX. e.g). tunc est efficacior sacratiorque devotia, quando in operibus pietatis totius Ecclesioe unus animus et unus est census; publica enim proeferenda sunt propriis et ibi intelligenda est proecipua ratio utilitatis, ubi vigilat cura communis).
5 Jc 3,2.
6 Cf. Serm. LXXVIII. 2). donet licet sanctis suis quotidianam gratia Divina victoriam, non aufert tamen dimicandi materiam.
7 Cf. Mt 18,19-20.
8 Totius pietatis auctori : cf. Collect for 23rd Sunday after Trinity, which is based on that in the Gregorian Sacramentary.
9 Cf. 1Co 10,24 1Co 12,6 2Co 9,7.
10 Cf. 1Co 10,24 1Co 12,6 2Co 9,7.
11 Cf. 1Co 10,24 1Co 12,6 2Co 9,7.
12 2Co 9,10,
13 Pariter. He thus keeps up the leading thought of this sermon to end ).
Leo the Great: sermons 2078