Leo the Great: Our Lord Jesus Christ made in Himself the beginning of a new creation Monday, Jan 2 2017 

Saint_Leo_of_RomeThe bodily Nativity therefore of the Son of God took nothing from and added nothing to His Majesty because His unchangeable substance could be neither diminished nor increased.

For that “the Word became flesh” does not signify that the nature of God was changed into flesh, but that the Word took the flesh into the unity of His Person.

And therein undoubtedly the whole man was received, with which within the Virgin’s womb fecundated by the Holy Spirit, whose virginity was destined never to be lost, the Son of God was so inseparably united that He who was born without time of the Father’s essence was Himself in time born of the Virgin’s womb.

For we could not otherwise be released from the chains of eternal death but by Him becoming humble in our nature, Who remained Almighty in His own.

And so our Lord Jesus Christ, being at birth true man though He never ceased to be true God, made in Himself the beginning of a new creation, and in the “form” of His birth started the spiritual life of mankind afresh, that to abolish the taint of our birth according to the flesh there might be a possibility of regeneration without our sinful seed for those of whom it is said, “Who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).

What mind can grasp this mystery, what tongue can express this gracious act?  Sinfulness returns to guiltlessness and the old nature becomes new; strangers receive adoption and outsiders enter upon an inheritance.  The ungodly begin to be righteous, the miserly benevolent, the incontinent chaste, the earthly heavenly.

And whence comes this change, save by the right hand of the Most High?  For the Son of God came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8), and has so united Himself with us and us with Him that the descent of God to man’s estate became the exaltation of man to God’s.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 27, 2.

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Leo the Great: I have become Son of Man that you might have power to be sons of God Friday, Jun 17 2016 

Saint_Leo_of_RomeThe Lord Jesus does, indeed, say to His disciples, as was read in the Gospel lection, if you loved Me, you would assuredly rejoice, because I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.

But those ears, which have often heard the words, I and the Father are One, and He that sees Me, sees the Father also, accept the saying without supposing a difference of Godhead or understanding it of that Essence which they know to be co-eternal and of the same nature with the Father.

Man’s uplifting, therefore, in the Incarnation of the Word, is commended to the holy Apostles also.

And they, who were distressed at the announcement of the Lord’s departure from them, are incited to eternal joy over the increase in their dignity; If you loved Me, He says, you would assuredly rejoice, because I go to the Father.

That is, if, with complete knowledge you saw what glory is bestowed on you by the fact that, being begotten of God the Father, I have been born of a human mother also, that being invisible I have made Myself visible, that being eternal in the form of God I accepted the form of a slave, you would rejoice because I go to the Father.

For to you is offered this ascension, and your humility is in Me raised to a place above all heavens at the Father’s right hand.

But I, Who am with the Father that which the Father is, abide undivided with My Father, and in coming from Him to you I do not leave Him, even as in returning to Him from you I do not forsake you.

Rejoice, therefore, because I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. For I have united you with Myself, and have become Son of Man that you might have power to be sons of God.

And hence, though I am One in both forms, yet in that whereby I am conformed to you I am less than the Father, whereas in that whereby I am not divided from the Father I am greater even than Myself.

And so let the Nature, which is less than the Father, go to the Father, that the Flesh may be where the Word always is, and that the one faith of the Catholic Church may believe that He Whom as Man it does not deny to be less, is equal as God with the Father.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 77, 5.

Leo the Great: Things which as yet have for the most part not come to pass must be reckoned as accomplished Wednesday, May 11 2016 

Saint_Leo_of_RomeContinued from here….

St. Paul…says “even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16).

For the Lord’s Resurrection was not the ending, but the changing of the flesh, and His substance was not destroyed by His increase of power.

The quality altered, but the nature did not cease to exist. The body which it had been possible to crucify was made impassible. It was made incorruptible, though it had been possible to wound it.

And properly is Christ’s flesh said not to be known in that state in which it had been known, because nothing remained passible in it, nothing weak, so that it was both the same in essence and not the same in glory.

But what wonder if S. Paul maintains this about Christ’s body, when he says of all spiritual Christians wherefore henceforth we know no one after the flesh.

Henceforth, he says, we begin to experience the resurrection in Christ, since the time when in Him, Who died for all, all our hopes were guaranteed to us.

We do not hesitate in diffidence, we are not under the suspense of uncertainty, but having received an earnest of the promise, we now with the eye of faith see the things which will be, and rejoicing in the uplifting of our nature, we already possess what we believe.

Let us not then be taken up with the appearances of temporal matters, neither let our contemplations be diverted from heavenly to earthly things.

Things which as yet have for the most part not come to pass must be reckoned as accomplished: and the mind intent on what is permanent must fix its desires there, where what is offered is eternal.

For although “by hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24), and still bear about with us a flesh that is corruptible and mortal, yet we are rightly said not to be in the flesh, if the fleshly affections do not dominate us, and are justified in ceasing to be named after that, the will of which we do not follow.

And so, when the Apostle says “make not provision for the flesh in the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14), we understand that those things are not forbidden us, which conduce to health and which human weakness demands.

But because we may not satisfy all our desires nor indulge in all that the flesh lusts after, we recognize that we are warned to exercise such self-restraint as not to permit what is excessive nor refuse what is necessary to the flesh, which is placed under the mind’s control.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 71, 4-5.

Leo the Great: The Lord’s Resurrection was not the ending, but the changing of the flesh Sunday, May 1 2016 

Saint_Leo_of_RomeContinued from here….

And hence that the disturbed minds of the disciples might not be racked by prolonged grief, He with such wondrous speed shortened the three days’ delay which He had announced, that by joining the last part of the first and the first part of the third day to the whole of the second, He cut off a considerable portion of the period, and yet did not lessen the number of days.

The Saviour’s Resurrection therefore did not long keep His soul in Hades, nor His flesh in the tomb; and so speedy was the quickening of His uncorrupted flesh that it bore a closer resemblance to slumber than to death, seeing that the Godhead, Which quitted not either part of the Human Nature which He had assumed, reunited by Its power that which Its power had separated.

And then there followed many proofs, whereon the authority of the Faith to be preached through the whole world might be based.

And although the rolling away of the stone, the empty tomb, the arrangement of the linen cloths, and the angels who narrated the whole deed by themselves fully built up the truth of the Lord’s Resurrection, yet did He often appear plainly to the eyes both of the women and of the Apostles not only talking with them, but also remaining and eating with them, and allowing Himself to be handled by the eager and curious hands of those whom doubt assailed.

For to this end He entered when the doors were closed upon the disciples, and gave them the Holy Spirit by breathing on them, and after giving them the light of understanding opened the secrets of the Holy Scriptures, and again Himself showed them the wound in the side, the prints of the nails, and all the marks of His most recent Passion, whereby it might be acknowledged that in Him the properties of the Divine and Human Nature remained undivided, and we might in such sort know that the Word was not what the flesh is, as to confess God’s only Son to be both Word and Flesh.

The Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, dearly-beloved, does not disagree with this belief, when he says, even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more.  For the Lord’s Resurrection was not the ending, but the changing of the flesh, and His substance was not destroyed by His increase of power. The quality altered, but the nature did not cease to exist: the body was made impassible, which it had been possible to crucify: it was made incorruptible, though it had been possible to wound it.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 71, 2-4.

Leo the Great: We must strive to be found partakers also of Christ’s Resurrection Tuesday, Mar 29 2016 

Saint_Leo_of_RomeIn my last sermon…we explained to you our participation in the cross of Christ, whereby the life of believers contains in itself the mystery of Easter, and thus what is honoured at the feast is celebrated by our practice.

And how useful this is you yourselves have proved, and by your devotion have learned, how greatly benefited souls and bodies are by longer fasts, more frequent prayers, and more liberal alms.

For there can be hardly anyone who has not profited by this exercise, and who has not stored up in the recesses of his conscience something over which he may rightly rejoice.

[…] Since, therefore, by our forty days’ observance we have wished to bring about this effect, that we should feel something of the Cross at the time of the Lord’s Passion, we must strive to be found partakers also of Christ’s Resurrection, and pass from death unto life (1 John 3:14), while we are in this body.

For when a man is changed by some process from one thing into another, not to be what he was is to him an ending, and to be what he was not is a beginning.

But the question is, to what a man either dies or lives: because there is a death, which is the cause of living, and there is a life, which is the cause of dying.

And nowhere else but in this transitory world are both sought after, so that upon the character of our temporal actions depend the differences of the eternal retributions.

We must die, therefore, to the devil and live to God: we must perish to iniquity that we may rise to righteousness.

Let the old sink, that the new may rise; and since, as says the Truth, no one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), let not him be Lord who has caused the overthrow of those that stood, but Him Who has raised the fallen to victory.

Accordingly, since the Apostle says, the first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is from heaven heavenly. As is the earthy, such also are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly.

As we have borne the image of the earthy, so let us also bear the image of Him Who is from heaven , we must greatly rejoice over this change, whereby we are translated from earthly degradation to heavenly dignity through His unspeakable mercy, Who descended into our estate that He might promote us to His, by assuming not only the substance but also the conditions of sinful nature, and by allowing the impassibility of Godhead to be affected by all the miseries which are the lot of mortal manhood.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 71, 1-2.

Leo the Great: No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the Cross Thursday, Mar 10 2016 

leo1No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the Cross, nor is anyone beyond the help of the prayer of Christ.

Even his many tormentors received the benefit of Christ’s prayer; all the more powerfully will it avail those who turn to him in repentance.

Ignorance has been dispelled, ill-will restrained, and the flaming sword barring the way to the land of the living extinguished by the sacred blood of Christ.

The dark night of the past has yielded to the true light of day.

Christian people are now invited to enjoy the treasures of Paradise, and the way to their lost fatherland is open once more to all who have been reborn.

Provided they do not close off for themselves that way which could be opened by the faith of a thief.

As we celebrate the wonderful mystery of this Paschal Feast, dearly beloved, we must not allow the affairs of this present life to consume us with anxiety or pride, and so prevent us from striving with our whole heart to be like our Redeemer and to follow his example, since the sole aim of everything he did and suffered was our salvation, and the communication to his members of the power that belongs to him as Head.

Was anyone, from the very first, excluded from the mercy shown to the human race when God assumed our nature, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us? None but the unbeliever. Who, accepting Christ as the incarnate Word, does not share a common nature with him and is not born again of the same Spirit by which Christ himself was conceived?

Again, is there anyone whose own weakness is not recognizable in Christ’s? Surely in one who needed food and sleep, who was troubled and sorrowful and could be moved to tears, we can see the condition of our own servitude.

Because that nature of ours cried for the healing of its age-old wounds and the cleansing of its sinful stains, God’s only Son became the Son of Man, lacking neither the full reality of our humanity nor the plenitude of his Godhead.

The body that lay lifeless in the tomb was ours; the body that rose again on the third day was ours; the body that ascended above the heavens to the right hand of the Father’s majesty was ours.

If, then, we walk in the way of Christ’s commandments and are not ashamed to confess the price he paid for our salvation in bodily humiliation, we too shall be brought into the company of his glory.

Then all creation will see his promise fulfilled: Everyone who acknowledges me in the presence of men will be acknowledged by me in the presence of my heavenly Father.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 66, 3-4; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the Third Week in Lent, Year 1.

Leo the Great: The outer man will be the peaceful and unblemished possession of the inner man Saturday, Feb 6 2016 

leo1Continued from here….

After the assertion of this most happy humility, the Lord hath added, saying, “Blessed are they which mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).

This mourning, beloved, to which eternal comforting is promised, is not the same as the affliction of this world.

Nor do those laments which are poured out in the sorrowings of the whole human race make any one blessed.

The reason for holy groanings, the cause of blessed tears, is very different.

Religious grief mourns sin either – that of others’ or one’s own.

Nor does it mourn for that which is wrought by God’s justice, but it laments over that which is committed by man’s iniquity.

For he that does wrong is more to be deplored than he who suffers it, because the unjust man’s wrongdoing plunges him into punishment, but the just man’s endurance leads him on to glory.

Next the Lord says:  “blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth by inheritance” (Matt. 5:5).

To the meek and gentle, to the humble and modest, and to those who are prepared to endure all injuries, the earth is promised for their possession.

And this is not to be reckoned a small or cheap inheritance, as if it were distinct from our heavenly dwelling, since it is no other than these who are understood to enter the kingdom of heaven.

The earth, then, which is promised to the meek, and is to be given to the gentle in possession, is the flesh of the saints, which in reward for their humility will be changed in a happy resurrection, and clothed with the glory of immortality, in nothing now to act contrary to the spirit, and to be in complete unity and agreement with the will of the soul.

For then the outer man will be the peaceful and unblemished possession of the inner man.

Then the mind, engrossed in beholding God, will be hampered by no obstacles of human weakness nor will it any more have to be said “The body which is corrupted, weigheth upon the soul, and its earthly house presseth down the sense which thinketh many things” (Wisdom 9:15).

For the earth will not struggle against its tenant, and will not venture on any insubordination against the rule of its governor.

For the meek shall possess it in perpetual peace, and nothing shall be taken from their rights, “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53), that their danger may turn into reward, and what was a burden become an honour.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 95, 4-5.

Leo the Great: Today those joys must be entertained in our hearts which existed in the breasts of the three magi Sunday, Jan 3 2016 

leo1Today those joys must be entertained in our hearts which existed in the breasts of the three magi, when, aroused by the sign and leading of a new star, which they believed to have been promised, they fell down in presence of the King of heaven and earth.

For that day has not so passed away that the mighty work, which was then revealed, has passed away with it, and that nothing but the report of the thing has come down to us for faith to receive and memory to celebrate; seeing that, by the oft-repeated gift of God, our times daily enjoy the fruit of what the first age possessed.

And therefore, although the narrative which is read to us from the Gospel properly records those days on which the three men, who had neither been taught by the prophets’ predictions nor instructed by the testimony of the law, came to acknowledge God from the furthest parts of the East, yet we behold this same thing more clearly and abundantly carried on now in the enlightenment of all those who are called.

The prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled when he says, “the Lord has laid bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the nations upon earth have seen the salvation which is from the Lord our God.” And again, “and those to whom it has not been announced about Him shall see, and they who have not heard, shall understand” (Isaiah 52:10, 15).

Hence when we see men devoted to worldly wisdom and far from belief in Jesus Christ brought out of the depth of their error and called to an acknowledgment of the true Light, it is undoubtedly the brightness of the Divine grace that is at work.

And whatever of new light illumines the darkness of their hearts, comes from the rays of the same star:  so that it should both move with wonder, and going before lead to the adoration of God the minds which it visited with its splendour.

But if with careful thought we wish to see how their threefold kind of gift is also offered by all who come to Christ with the foot of faith, is not the same offering repeated in the hearts of true believers?

For he that acknowledges Christ the King of the universe brings gold from the treasure of his heart; he that believes the Only-begotten of God to have united man’s true nature to Himself, offers myrrh; and he that confesses Him in no wise inferior to the Father’s majesty, worships Him in a manner with incense.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 36, 1.

Leo the Great: This threefold round of duty attains to God’s image and likeness and unites us inseparably with the Holy Spirit Tuesday, Dec 15 2015 

leo1When the Lord says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, from all thy heart and from all thy mind:  and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:37, 39), let the faithful soul put on the unfading love of its Author and Ruler, and subject itself also entirely to His will in Whose works and judgments true justice and tender-hearted compassion never fail.

For although a man be wearied out with labours and many misfortunes, there is good reason for him to endure all in the knowledge that adversity will either prove him good or make him better.

But this godly love cannot be perfect unless a man love his neighbour also.  Under which name must be included not only those who are connected with us by friendship or neighbourhood, but absolutely all men, with whom we have a common nature, whether they be foes or allies, slaves or free.

For the One Maker fashioned us, the One Creator breathed life into us; we all enjoy the same sky and air, the same days and nights, and, though some be good, others bad, some righteous, others unrighteous, yet God is bountiful to all, kind to all.

[…] But the wide extent of Christian grace has given us yet greater reasons for loving our neighbour, which, reaching to all parts of the whole world, looks down on no one, and teaches that no one is to be neglected.

And full rightly does He command us to love our enemies, and to pray to Him for our persecutors, who, daily grafting shoots of the wild olive from among all nations upon the holy branches of His own olive, makes men reconciled instead of enemies, adopted sons instead of strangers, just instead of ungodly, “that every knee may bow of things in heaven, of things on earth, and of things under the earth, and every tongue confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).

[…] There are three things which most belong to religious actions, namely prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, in the exercising of which while every time is accepted, yet that ought to be more zealously observed, which we have received as hallowed by tradition from the apostles:  even as this tenth month brings round again to us the opportunity when according to the ancient practice we may give more diligent heed to those three things of which I have spoken.

This threefold round of duty, dearly beloved, brings all other virtues into action:  it attains to God’s image and likeness and unites us inseparably with the Holy Spirit.  Because in prayer faith remains stedfast, in fastings life remains innocent, in almsgiving the mind remains kind.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 12:2&4.

Leo the Great: The form of the divine goodness reflected in us as in a mirror Monday, Nov 30 2015 

leo1If, dearly beloved, we comprehend faithfully and wisely the beginning of our creation, we shall find that man was made in God’s image, to the end that he might imitate his Creator, and that our race attains its highest natural dignity, by the form of the Divine goodness being reflected in us, as in a mirror.

And assuredly to this form the Saviour’s grace is daily restoring us, so long as that which, in the first Adam fell, is raised up again in the second.

And the cause of our restoration is naught else but the mercy of God, Whom we should not have loved, unless He had first loved us, and dispelled the darkness of our ignorance by the light of His truth.

And the Lord foretelling this by the holy Isaiah says, “I will bring the blind into a way that they knew not, and will make them walk in paths which they were ignorant of.  I will turn darkness into light for them, and the crooked into the straight.  These words will I do for them, and not forsake them” (Is. 42:16).

And again he says, “I was found by them that sought Me not, and openly appeared to them that asked not for Me” (Isaiah 65:1).

And the Apostle John teaches us how this has been fulfilled, when he says, “We know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and may be in Him that is true, even His Son” (1 John 5:20), and again, “let us therefore love God, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Thus it is that God, by loving us, restores us to His image, and, in order that He may find in us the form of His goodness, He gives us that whereby we ourselves too may do the work that He does, kindling that is the lamps of our minds, and inflaming us with the fire of His love, that we may love not only Himself, but also whatever He loves.

For if between men that is the lasting friendship which is based upon similarity of character notwithstanding that such identity of wills is often directed to wicked ends, how ought we to yearn and strive to differ in nothing from what is pleasing to God.

Of which the prophet speaks, “for wrath is in His indignation, and life in His pleasure” (Ps. 29:5 (LXX), because we shall not otherwise attain the dignity of the Divine Majesty, unless we imitate His will.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 12:1.

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