of Spirit through Prayer,
by Leo the Great
Dear friends, at every moment the earth is full of the mercy of God,
and nature itself is a lesson for all the faithful in the worship of God.
The heavens, the sea and all that is in them bear witness to the omnipotence
of their Creator, and the marvelous beauty of the elements as they obey
him demands from the intelligent creation a fitting expression of its gratitude.
But with the return of that season marked out in a special way by the
mystery of our redemption, and of the days that lead up to the paschal
feast, we are summoned more urgently to prepare ourselves by a purification
The special note of the paschal feast is this: the whole Church rejoices
in the forgiveness of sins. It rejoices in the forgiveness not only
of those who are then reborn in holy baptism but also of those who are
already numbered among God's adopted children.
Initially, men are made new by the rebirth of baptism. Yet there is
still required a daily renewal to repair the shortcomings of our mortal
nature, and whatever degree of progress has been made there is no one who
should not be more advanced. All must therefore strive to ensure that on
the day of redemption no one may be found in the sins of his former life.
Dear friends, what the Christian should be doing at all times should
be done now with greater care and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined
by the apostles may be fulfilled, not simply by abstinence from food but
above all by the renunciation of sin.
There is no more profitable practice as a companion to holy and spiritual
fasting than that of almsgiving. This embraces under the single name of
mercy many excellent works of devotion, so that the good intentions of
the faithful may be of equal value, even where their means are not.
The love that we owe both God and man is always free from any obstacle
that would prevent us from having a good intention. The angels sang: Glory
to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. The person
who shows love and compassion to those in any kind of affliction is blessed,
not only with the virtue of good will, but also with the gift of peace.
The works of mercy are innumerable. Their very variety brings this advantage
to those who are true Christians, that in the matter of almsgiving not
only the rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor
are able to play their part. Those who are unequal in their capacity to
give can be equal in the love within their hearts.
from Sermon for Lent, by Gregory]