One of my favorite saints and favorite popes, today we remember Pope St. Leo the Great, whose homily excerpts in the Divine Office never fail to stir me:
For there are two loves from which proceed all wishes, as different in quality as they are different in their sources. For the reasonable soul, which cannot exist without love, is the lover either of God or the world. In the love of God there is no excess, but in the love of the world all is hurtful. And therefore we must cling inseparably to eternal treasures, but things temporal we must use like passers-by, that as we are sojourners hastening to return to our own land, all the good things of this world which meet us may be as aids on the way, not snares to detain us.
Over at Patheos, Pat Gohnhas a terrific look at Leo! After recounting his face-to-face meeting with Attila the Hun, Pat writes:
Now I tell you that story of St. Leo so you know the kind of person who would challenge us with this: “Christian recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.”
Christian, recognize your dignity . . .
Remember who you are! And most especially Christian, remember whose you are.
Every Christian needs to have those two qualities: to know who they are, and to know whose they are.
That’s the kind of knowledge Leo had before Attila, the kind of knowledge that knows that you are not alone. You belong to Christ and his Church.
Most especially, the baptism of the Christian removes the stain of sin, and calls one to a life dedicated to avoiding it in the future! The call to holiness requires prayer and dedication and virtue. Sometimes it requires you to stand and fight. Or not.
Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member . . .
As always with anything written by Pat Gohnyou’ll want to read it all
Coincidentally touching on our dignity, and a possible cause of our social depression, Tony Rossi takes a fresh look at the Culture of Life and the Children of Men:
The film version of The Children of Men emphasized what happens to societies when civil rights are suspended. The book, however, focuses just as much if not more on the “life” issues involved.
Recalling the evolution of the infertility problem, Theo says, “We thought that we knew the reasons — that the fall was deliberate, a result of more liberal attitudes to birth control and abortion, the postponement of pregnancy by professional women, the wish of families for a higher standard of living . . . Most of us thought the fall was desirable, even necessary. We were polluting the planet with our numbers . . . When Omega came it came with dramatic suddenness and was received with incredulity.”
Described in these terms, the story seems like an all too plausible scenario. In a society that has largely divorced sex from procreation, no one ever followed that attitude about reproductive choice to its logical if unlikely conclusion. Now, Omega has arrived and the despair is overwhelming.
There is a marked increase in suicides by middle-aged people who would “bear the brunt of an aging and decaying society’s humiliating but insistent needs.” Also, every reminder of children (schools, toys, playgrounds) has been removed from the public landscape “except for the dolls, which have become for some half-demented women a substitute for children.”
People’s attitudes toward sex have also changed in an unexpected way. Theo says, “Sex has become among the least important of man’s sensory pleasures. One might have imagined that with the fear of pregnancy permanently removed, and the unerotic paraphernalia of pills, rubber and ovulation arithmetic no longer necessary, sex would be freed for new and imaginative delights. The opposite has happened. Even those men and women who would normally have no wish to breed apparently need the assurance that they could have a child if they wished. Sex totally divorced from procreation has become almost meaninglessly acrobatic.”