In light of the current confusion among many in the Church these last years, with bishops in some parts holding revolutionary interpretations of Magisterial doctrinal teachings, and a pope who has so far refused to put an end to these conflicts by a solid affirmation of Catholic teaching, it is good to recall an early great pope of the Church, Pope Saint Leo I, whose feast day we celebrate today according to the pre-Vatican 2 calendar.
St. Leo, surnamed the Great, was called to govern the Church (Communion). In him are verified the words of the Introit, taken from the Book of Wisdom: “The Lord has opened his mouth in the midst of the Church and has filled him with the Spirit of wisdom and intelligence ” and also the words of the Offertory: ” I have anointed My servant with holy oil and I lent him the strength of My arm.”
As Doctor of the Church and defender of civilisation, he gained signal victories over heretics and barbarians.
He opposed Eutyches who denied the two natures of Christ, and Nestorius who affirmed that there were two persons in Jesus; which fatal doctrines ended towards the destruction of the great work of Redemption celebrated by the Paschal Cycle. The Council of Chalcedon exclaimed: “Peter has spoken by the mouth of Leo.” Wherefore the Gospel reminds us of the prerogatives of the chief Pastor of the Church.
St. Leo stopped the advance of Attila, “the scourge of God”, at the gates of Rome and decided him to retire to Pannonia. He died on April 11th, 461.
Let us ask God, through his intercession, to apply to us the merits of the risen Christ, that we may be freed from our sins (Collect).
Introit: Ps. cxviii. 85, 46
In medio Ecclesiae aperuit os ejus: et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae et intellectus: stolam gloriae induit eum. * Bonum est confiteri Domino: et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime.
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and He filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory. * It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy name, O most High.
Exaudi, quaesumus, Domine, preces nostras, quas in beati Leonis Confessoris tui atque Pontificis solemnitate deferimus: et, qui tibi digne meruit famulari, ejus intercedentibus meritis ab omnibus nos absolve peccatis.
Graciously hear our prayers, O Lord, we beseech Thee, which we offer in the solemn commemoration of blessed Leo, Thy confessor and bishop; and absolve us from all sins by the interceding merits of him, who served Thee worthily.
Glory be to thee, O Jesus, Lion of the Tribe of Juda! that hast raised up in thy Church a Lion to defend her in those dark times, when holy Faith was most exposed to danger. Thou chargedst Peter to confirm his Brethren (St. Luke, xxii. 32.); and we have seen Leo, in whom Peter lived, fulfil this office with sovereign authority. We have heard the acclamation of the holy Council, which, in admiration at the heavenly teachings of Leo, proclaimed the signal favour thou conferredst on thy Flock, when thou badest Peter feed both Sheep and Lambs.
O holy Pontiff Leo! thou worthily representedst Peter in his Chair, whence thy apostolic teaching ceased not to flow, ever beautiful in its truth and majesty. The Church of thine own day honoured thee as the great Teacher of Faith; and the Church of every succeeding age has recognised thee as one of the most learned Doctors and preachers of the divine Word. From thy throne in heaven, where now thou reignest, pour forth upon us the understanding of the great Mystery which thou wast called on to defend. Under thy inspired pen, this mystery grows clear; we see how sublimely it harmonises with all other mysteries; and Faith delights at gaining so close a view of the divine object of its belief. Oh! strengthen this Faith within us. The Incarnate Word is blasphemed in these our own times; avenge his glory, by sending us men of thy zeal and learning.
Thou triumphedst over barbarian invaders: Attila acknowledged the influence of thy sanctity and eloquence, by withdrawing his troops from the Christian land they infested. In these our days, there have risen up new barbarians,–civilized barbarians, who would persuade us, that religion should be eliminated from Education, and that the State, in its laws and institutions, should simply ignore our Lord Jesus Christ, the King to whom all power has been given, not only in heaven but on Earth also (St. Matth. xxviii. 18). Oh! help us by thy powerful intercession, for our danger is extreme. Many are seduced, and are apostates whilst flattering themselves that they are still Christians. Pray that the light, that is left within us, may not be extinguished, and that the public scandals, which now exist, may be brought to an end. Attila was but a pagan; our modern statesmen and Governments are, or, at least, call themselves, Christians: have pity on them, and gain for them light to see the precipice to which they are hurrying society.
These days of Paschal Time must remind thee, O holy Pontiff! of the Easters thou didst once spend, here on earth, when, surrounded by the Neophytes, thou gavest them the nourishment of thy magnificent Discourses:–pray for the Faithful, who have this Easter, risen to a new life with Christ. What they most stand in need of is, a fuller and better knowledge of this their Saviour, in order that they may cling more closely to him, and persevere in his holy service. Thy prayers must get them this knowledge; by thy prayers, thou must teach them what he is both in his Divine and Human Nature: that, as God, He is their Last End, and their Judge after death; as Man, their Brother, their Redeemer, their Model. Bless, O Leo! and help the Pontiff who is now thy successor on the Chair of Peter. Show now thy love for that Rome, whose sacred and eternal destinies were so frequently the subject of thy glowing and heavenly eloquence.
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