Pope St. Leo the Great on Charity

From a homily on the Ascension. Watch Leo make a beautiful, and very traditional, move: from detachment, to love of the poor. To be “poor, and for the poor” . . . .

And so, dearly-beloved, let us rejoice with spiritual joy, and let us with gladness pay God worthy thanks and raise our hearts’ eyes unimpeded to those heights where Christ is.

Minds that have heard the call to be uplifted [Lift up your hearts!]
must not be pressed down by earthly affections ;
they that are fore-ordained to things eternal
must not be taken up with the things that perish;
they that have entered on the way of Truth
must not be entangled in treacherous snares;
and the faithful must so take their course through these temporal things
as to remember that they are sojourning in the vale of this world,
in which, even though they meet with some attractions,
they must not sinfully embrace them, but bravely pass through them.

LeoGreatFor to this devotion the blessed Apostle Peter arouses us, and entreating us with that loving eagerness which he conceived for feeding Christ’s sheep by the threefold profession of love for the Lord, says, “dearly-beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).evotion the blessed Apostle Peter arouses us, and en

But for whom do fleshly pleasures wage war, if not for the devil, whose delight it is to fetter souls that strive after things above, with the enticements of corruptible good things, and to draw them away from those abodes from which he himself has been banished? Against his plots every believer must keep careful watch that he may crush his foe on the side whence the attack is made.

And there is no more powerful weapon, dearly-beloved, against the devil’s wiles than kindly mercy and bounteous charity, by which every sin is either escaped or vanquished.

But this lofty power is not attained until that which is opposed to it be overthrown. And what so hostile to mercy and works of charity as avarice [love of material goods] from the root of which spring all evils ? And unless it be destroyed by lack of nourishment, there must needs grow in the ground of that heart in which this evil weed has taken root, the thorns and briars of vices rather than any seed of true goodness.

Let us then, dearly-beloved, resist this pestilential evil and follow after charity, without which no virtue can flourish, that by this path of love whereby Christ came down to us, we too may mount up to Him, to Whom with God the Father and the Holy Spirit is honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


One Comment

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