Saint Leo the Great on Offering Penance September 21, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, Liturgical Year, mortification, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Virtue.
Even though the excerpt below was spoken, and primarily intended, for the start of Lent, it is not without its usefulness in an Ember Week. Saint Leo effectively, gracefully communicates the Church’s steadfast belief in the efficacy of fasting (penance) and its salutary effects on our souls. I don’t know if you ever need inspiration to fast/works of penance, but if you do, I think you’ll find this mighty motivatin’. What Grace there is waiting for us in penance, and how few avail themselves of it! What a tragedy for the Church and the world!
From pp. 121-3 of The Liturgical Year, Vol. V:
“Having to announce to you, dearly beloved, the most sacred and chief fast, how can I more appropriately begin, than with the words of the Apostle, in whom Christ Himself spoke, and by saying to you what has just been read: “Behold! Now is the acceptable time! Behold, Now is the day of salvation!” For although there be no time which is not replete with divine gifts, and we may always, by God’s Grace, have access to His mercy, yet ought we all to redouble our efforts to make spiritual progress and be animated with unusual confidence, now that the anniversary of the day of our redemption is approaching, inviting us to devote ourselves to every good work, that so we may celebrate, with purity of body and mind, the incomparable mystery of our Lord’s Passion.
“It is true that our devotion and reverence towards so great a mystery should be kept up during the whole year, and we ourselves should be at all times, in the eyes of God, the same as we are bound to be at the Easter solemnity. But this is an effort which only few among us have the courage to sustain. The weakness of the flesh induces us to relax our austerities; the various occupations of every day life take up our thoughts; and thus even the virtuous find their hearts clogged by the world’s dust. Hence it is that the Lord has most providentially given us these days, whose holy exercises should be to us a remedy, whereby to regain our purity of soul. The good works and the holy fastings of this season were instituted as an atonement for, and an obliteration of, the sins we commit during the rest of the year. [Such a beautiful sentiment. They were also specifically intended for the sanctification of priests and especially those seminarians to be ordained this season/year]
Now, therefore, that we are about to enter upon these days, which are so full of mystery, and which were instituted for the holy purpose of purifying both soul and body, let us, dearly beloved, be careful to do as the Apostle bids us, and cleanse ourselves from all defilements of the flesh and the spirit; that thus the combat between the two substances being made less fierce, the soul, which, when she herself is subject to God, ought to be the ruler of the body, will recover her own dignity and position. [Dang right!] Let us also avoid giving offence to any man, so that here be none to blame or speak evil things of us. For we deserve the harsh remarks of infidels, and we provoke the tongues of the wicked to blaspheme religion, when we who fast lead unholy lives. For our fast does not consist in the mere abstinence from food; nor is it of much use to deny food to our body, unless we restrain the soul from sin.