I. The Ascension Completes Our Faith in Him, Who Was God As Well as Man.
The mystery of our salvation, dearly-beloved, which the Creator of the universe valued at the price of His blood, has now been carried out under conditions of humiliation from the day of His bodily birth to the end of His Passion. And although even in "the form of a slave" many signs of Divinity have beamed out, yet the events of all that period served particularly to show the reality of His assumed Manhood. But after the Passion, when the chains of death were broken, which had exposed its own strength by attacking Him, Who was ignorant of sin, weakness was turned into power, mortality into eternity, contumely into glory, which the Lord Jesus Christ showed by many clear proofs in the sight of many, until He carried even into heaven the triumphant victory which He had won over the dead. As therefore at the Easter commemoration, the Lord's Resurrection was the cause of our rejoicing; so the subject of our present gladness is His Ascension, as we commemorate and duly venerate that day on which the Nature of our humility in Christ was raised above all the host of heaven, over all the ranks of angels, beyond the height of all powers, to sit with God the Father. On which Providential order of events we are founded and built up, that God's Grace might become more wondrous, when, notwithstanding the removal from men's sight of what was rightly felt to command their awe, faith did not fail, hope did not waver, love did not grow cold. For it is the strength of great minds and the light of firmly-faithful souls, unhesitatingly to believe what is not seen with the bodily sight, and there to fix one's affections whither you cannot direct your gaze. And whence should this Godliness spring up in our hearts, or how should a man be justified by faith, if our salvation rested on those things only which lie beneath our eyes? Hence our Lord said to him who seemed to doubt of Christ's Resurrection, until he had tested by sight and touch the traces of His Passion in His very Flesh, "because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are, they who have not seen and yet have believedhyperlink ."
II. The Ascension Renders Our Faith More Excellent and Stronger.
In order, therefore, dearly-beloved, that we may be capable of this blessedness, when all things were fulfilled which concerned the Gospel preaching and the mysteries of the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ, on the fortieth day after the Resurrection in the presence of the disciples, was raised into heaven, and terminated His presence with us in the body, to abide on the Father's right hand until the times Divinely fore-ordained for multiplying the sons of the Church are accomplished, and He comes to judge the living and the dead in the same flesh in which He ascended. And so that which till then was visible of our Redeemer was changed into a sacramental presencehyperlink , and that faith might be more excellent and stronger, sight gave way to doctrine, the authority of which was to be accepted by believing hearts enlightened with rays from above.
III. The Marvellous Effects of This Faith on All.
This Faith, increased by the Lord's Ascension and established by the gift of the Holy Ghost, was not terrified by bonds, imprisonments, banishments, hunger, fire, attacks by wild beasts, refined torments of cruel persecutors. For this Faith throughout the world not only men, but even women, not only beardless boys, but even tender maids, fought to the shedding of their blood. This Faith cast out spirits, drove off sicknesses, raised the dead: and through it the blessed Apostles themselves also, who after being confirmed by so many miracles and instructed by so many discourses, had yet been panic-stricken by the horrors of the Lord's Passion and had not accepted the truth of His resurrection without hesitation, made such progress after the Lord's Ascension that everything which had previously filled them with fear was turned into joy. For they had lifted the whole contemplation of their mind to the Godhead of Him that sat at the Father's right hand, and were no longer hindered by the barrier of corporeal sight from directing their minds' gaze to That Which had never quitted the Father's side in descending to earth, and had not forsaken the disciples in ascending to heaven.
IV. His Ascension Refines Our Faith : the Ministering of Angels to Hint Shows the Extent of His Authority.
The Son of Man and Son of God, therefore, dearly-beloved, then attained a more excellent and holier fame, when He betook Himself back to the glory of the Father's Majesty, and in an ineffable manner began to be nearer to the Father in respect of His Godhead, after having become farther away in respect of His manhood. A better instructed faith then began to draw closer to a conception of the Son's equality with the Father without the necessity of handling the corporeal substance in Christ, whereby He is less than the Father, since, while the Nature of the glorified Body still remained the faith of believers was called upon to touch not with the hand of flesh, but with the spiritual understanding the Only-begotten, Who was equal with the Father. Hence comes that which the Lord said after His Resurrection, when Mary Magdalene, representing the Church, hastened to approach and touch Him: "Touch Me not, for I have not yet ascended to My Fatherhyperlink :" that is, I would not have you come to Me as to a human body, nor yet recognize Me by fleshly perceptions: I put thee off for higher things, I prepare greater things for thee: when I have ascended to My Father, then thou shall handle Me more perfectly and truly, for thou shall grasp what thou canst not touch and believe what thou canst not see. But when the disciples' eyes followed the ascending Lord tO heaven with upward gaze of earnest wonder, two angels stood by them in raiment shining with wondrous brightness, who also said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing into heaven? This Jesus Who was taken up from you into heaven shall so come as ye saw Him going into heavenhyperlink ." By which words all the sons of the Church were taught to believe that Jesus Christ will come visibly in the same Flesh wherewith He ascended, and not to doubt that all things are subjected to Him on Whom the ministry of angels had waited from the first beginning of His Birth. For, as an angel announced to the blessed Virgin that Christ should be conceived by the Holy Ghost, so the voice of heavenly beings sang of His being born of the Virgin also to the shepherds. As messengers from above were the first to attest His having risen from the dead, so the service of angels was employed to foretell His coming in very Flesh to judge the world, that we might understand what great powers will come with Him as Judge, when such great ones ministered to Him even in being judged.
V. We Must Despise Earthly Things and Rise to Things Above, Especially by Active Works of Mercy and Love.
And so, dearly-beloved, let us rejoice with spiritual joy, and let us with gladness pay God worthy thanks and raise our hearts' eyes unimpeded to those heights where Christ is. Minds that have heard the call to be uplifted must not be pressed down by earthly affectionshyperlink , they that are fore-ordained to things eternal must not be taken up with the things that perish; they that have entered on the way of Truth must not be entangled in treacherous snares, and the faithful must so take their course through these temporal things as to remember that they are sojourning in the vale of this world, in which, even though they meet with some attractions, they must not sinfully embrace them, but bravely pass through them. For to this devotion the blessed Apostle Peter arouses us, and entreating us with that loving eagerness which he conceived for feeding Christ's sheep by the threefold profession of love for the Lord, says, "dearly-beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soulhyperlink ." But for whom do fleshly pleasures wage war, ifnot for the devil, whose delight it is to fetter souls that strive after things above, with the enticements of corruptible good things, and to draw them away from those abodes from which he himself has been banished? Against his plots every believer must keep careful watch that he may crush his foe on the side whence the attack is made. And there is no more powerful weapon, dearly-beloved, against the devil's wiles than kindly mercy and bounteous charity, by which every sin is either escaped or vanquished. But this lofty power is not attained until that which is opposed to it be overthrown. And what so hostile to mercy and works of charity as avarice from the root of which spring all evilshyperlink ? And unless it be destroyed by lack of nourishment, there must needs grow in the ground of that heart in which this evil weed has taken root, the thorns and briars of vices rather than any seed of true goodness. Let us then, dearly-beloved, resist this pestilential evil and "follow after charityhyperlink ," without which no virtue can flourish, that by this path of love whereby Christ came down to us, we too may mount up to Him, to Whom with God the Father and the Holy Spirit is honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 S. John xx. 29.
2 In sacramenta transivit, i.e. Christ's presence is now vouchsafed us only after a spiritual manner in His sacraments and means of grace.
3 S. John xx. 17.
4 Acts i. 11.
5 Sursum vocatos animos. The allusion no doubt is to the V. Sursum corda. R. habemus ad Dominum, with which the Church Liturgy has always ushered us into the most solemn part of the Eucharistic worship (Col. iii. 1, 2). Cf. Bright's n. 122, and Serm. LXVII. chap. i.
6 1 Pet. ii. 11.
7 Cf. 1 Tim. vi. 10; and below, 1 Cor. xiv. 1.
8 Cf. 1 Tim. vi. 10; and below, 1 Cor. xiv. 1.
Sermon LXXV. (on Whitsuntide, I.)
I. The Giving of the Law by Moses Prepared the Way for the Outpouring of the Holy Ghost.
The hearts of all catholics, beloved, realize that to-day's solemnity is to be honoured as one of the chief feasts, nor is there any doubt that great respect is due to this day, which the Holy Spirit has hallowed by the miracle of His most excellent gift. For from the day on which the Lord ascended up above all heavenly heights to sit down at God the Father's right hand, this is the tenth which has shone, and the fiftieth from His Resurrection, being the very day on which it beganhyperlink , and containing in itself great revelations of mysteries both new and old, by which it is most manifestly revealed that Grace was fore-announced through the Law and the Law fulfilled through Grace. For as of old, when the Hebrew nation were released from the Egyptians, on the fiftieth day after the sacrificing of the lamb the Law was given on Mount Sinai, so after the suffering of Christ, wherein the true Lamb of God was slain on the fiftieth day from His Resurrection, the Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles and the multitude of believers, so that the earnest Christian may easily perceive that the beginnings of the Old Testament were preparatory to the beginnings of the Gospel, and that the second covenant was rounded by the same Spirit that had instituted the first.
II. How Marvellous Was the Gift of "Divers Tongues."
For as the Apostles' story testifies: "while the days of Pentecost were fulfilled and all the disciples were together in the same place, there occurred suddenly from heaven a sound as of a violent wind coming, and filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Holy Spirit gave them utterancehyperlink ." Oh! how swift are the words of wisdom. and where God is the Master, how quickly is what is taught, learnt. No interpretation is required for understanding, no practice for using, no time for studying, but the Spirit of Truth blowing where He willshyperlink , the languages peculiar to each nation become common property in the mouth of the Church. And therefore from that day the trumpet of the Gospel-preaching has sounded loud: from that day the showers of gracious gifts, the rivers of blessings, have watered every desert and all the dry land, since to renew the face of the earth the Spirit of God "moved over the watershyperlink ," and to drive away the old darkness flashes of new light shone forth, when by the blaze of those busy tongues was kindled the Lord's bright Word and fervent eloquence, in which to arouse the understanding, and to consume sin there lay both a capacity of enlightenment and a power of burning.
III. The Three Persons in the Trinity are Perfectly Equal in All Things.
But although, dearly-beloved, the actual form of the thing done was exceeding wonderful, and undoubtedly in that exultant chorus of all human languages the Majesty of the Holy Spirit was present, yet no one must think that His Divine substance appeared in what was seen with bodily eyes. For His Nature, which is invisible and shared in common with the Father and the Son, showed the character of His gift and work by the outward sign that pleased Him, but kept His essential property within His own Godhead: because human sight can no more perceive the Holy Ghost than it can the Father or the Son. For in the Divine Trinity nothing is unlike or unequal, and all that can be thought concerning Its substance admits of no diversity either in power or glory or eternity. And while in the property of each Person the Father is one, the Son is another, and the Holy Ghost is another, yet the Godhead is not distinct and different; for whilst the Son is the Only begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, not in the way that every creature is the creature of the Father and the Son, but as living and having power with Both, and eternally subsisting of That Which is the Father and the Sonhyperlink . And hence when the Lord before the day of His Passion promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to His disciples, He said, "I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth shall have come, He shall guide you into all the Truth. For He shall not speak from Himself, but whatsoever He shall have heard, He shall speak and shall announce things to come unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I that He shall take of Mine, and shall announce it to youhyperlink ." Accordingly, there are not some things that are the Father's, and other the Son's, and other the Holy Spirit's: but all things whatsoever the Father has, the Son also has, and the Holy Spirit also has: nor was there ever a time when this communion did not exist, because with Them to have all things is to always exist. In them let no times, no grades, no differences be imaginedhyperlink , and, if no one can explain that which is true concerning God, let no one dare to assert what is not true. For it is more excusable not to make a full statement concerning His ineffable Nature than to frame an actually wrong definition. And so whatever loyal hearts can conceive of the Father's eternal and unchangeable Glory, let them at the same time understand it of the Son and of the Holy Ghost without any separation or difference. For we confess this blessed Trinity to be One God for this reason, because in these three Persons there is no diversity either of substance, or of power, or of will, or of operation.
IV. The Macedonian Heresy is as Blasphemous as the Arian.
As therefore we abhor the Arians, who maintain a difference between the Father and the Son, so also we abhor the Macedonianshyperlink , who, although they ascribe equality to the Father and the Son, yet think the Holy Ghost to be of a lower nature, not considering that they thus fall into that blasphemy, which is not to be forgiven either in the present age or in the judgment to come, as the Lord says: "whosoever shall have spoken a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but he that shall have spoken against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him either in this age or in the age to comehyperlink ." And so to persist in this impiety is unpardonable, because it cuts him off from Him, by Whom he could confess: nor will he ever attain to healing pardon, who has no Advocate to plead for him. For from Him comes the invocation of the Father, from Him come the tears of penitents, from Him come the groans of suppliants, and "no one can call Jesus the Lord save in the Holy Ghosthyperlink ," Whose Omnipotence as equal and Whose Godhead as one, with the Father and the Son, the Apostle most clearly proclaims, saying, "there are divisions of graces but the same Spirit; and the divisions of ministrations but the same Lord; and there are divisions of operations but the same God, Who worketh all things in allhyperlink ."
V. The Spirit's Work is Still Continued in Thechurch.
By these and other numberless proofs, dearly-beloved, with which the authority of the Divine utterances is ablaze, let us with one mind be incited to pay reverence to Whitsuntide, exulting in honour of the Holy Ghost, through Whom the whole catholic Church is sanctified, and every rational soul quickened; Who is the Inspirer of the Faith, the Teacher of Knowledge, the Fount of Love, the Seal of Chastity, and the Cause of all Power. Let the minds of the faithful rejoice, that throughout the world One God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is praised by the confession of all tongues, and that that sign of His Presence, which appeared in the likeness of fire, is still perpetuated in His work and gift. For the Spirit of Truth Himself makes the house of His glory shine with the brightness of His light, and will have nothing dark nor lukewarm in His temple. And it is through His aid and teaching also that the purification of fasts and alms has been established among us. For this venerable day is followed by a most wholesome practice, which all the saints have ever found most profitable to them, and to the diligent observance of which we exhort you with a shepherd's care, to the end that if any blemish has been contracted in the days just passed through heedless negligence, it may be atoned for by the discipline of fasting and corrected by pious devotion. On Wednesday and Friday, therefore, let us fast, and on Saturday for this very purpose keep vigil with accustomed devotion, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
1 In eo (Sc. die) a quo caepit (Sc. festum), apparently an obscure way of saying that the first Whitsunday was the same day of the week (viz. the first) as the Easter-day.
2 Acts ii. 1- 4.
3 Cf. S. John iii. 8 ; and below, Gen. i. 2.
4 Cf. S. John iii. 8 ; and below, Gen. i. 2.
5 For this statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, esp. in regard to the Twofold Procession of the Holy Ghost, cf. Lett. XV. chap. 2. Bright quotes Swete's History of the Doctrine, p. 157.
6 S. John xvi. 12-15.
7 Cf. Serm. XXVIII. chap. 4, cum gradus in vera Divinitate esse non possit, and Serm. LXXII. chap. 5, nec Unitatem gradibus dividat, and Bright's notes 29 and 116 on the subject.
8 "Arianism had spoken both of the Son and the Holy Spirit as creatures. The Macedonians, rising up out of Semi-arianism gradually reached the Church's belief as to the uncreated Majesty of the Son, even if they retained their objection to the Homo-ousion. But having, in their previously Semi-arian position refused to extend their own Homoi-ousion to the Holy Spirit, they afterwards persisted in regarding Him 'as external to the one indivisible Godhead.' Newmans Arians, p. 226." Bright's n. 129. Macodonius, from whom the sect was named, was bp. of Constantinople alternately with his rival, the orthodox Paul, between 342 and 351, and from that date he held the See in full possession till 360, when he was finally deposed.
9 S. Matt. xii. 32.
10 1 Cor. xii. 3-6.
11 1 Cor. xii. 3-6.
Sermon LXXVII. (on Whitsuntide, III.)
I. The Holy Ghost's Work Did Not Begin at Pentecost, But Was Continued Because the Holy Trinity is One in Action and in Will.
To-day's festival, dearly-beloved, which is held in reverence by the whole world, has been hallowed by that advent of the Holy Ghost, which on the fiftieth day after the Lord's Resurrection, descended on the Apostles and the multitude of believershyperlink , even as it was hoped. And there was this hope, because the Lord Jesus had promised that He should come, not then first to be the Indweller of the saints, but to kindle to a greater heat, and to fill with larger abundance the hearts that were dedicated to Him, increasing, not commencing His gifts, not fresh in operation because richer in bounty. For the Majesty of the Holy Ghost is never separate from the Omnipotence of the Father and the Son, and whatever the Divine government accomplishes in the ordering of all things, proceeds from the Providence of the whole Trinity. Therein exists unity of mercy and loving-kindness, unity of judgment and justice: nor is there any division in action where there is no divergence of will. What, therefore, the Father enlightens, the Son enlightens, and the Holy Ghost enlightens: and while there is one Person of the Sent, another of the Sender, and another of the Promiser both the Unity and the Trinity are at the same time revealed to us, so that the Essence which possesses equality and does not admit of solitariness is understood to belong to the same Substance but not the same Person.
II. Each Person in the Trinity Look Part in Our Redemption.
The fact, therefore, that, with the co-operation of the inseparable Godhead still perfect, certain things are performed by the Father, certain by the Son, and certain by the Holy Spirit, in particular belongs to the ordering of our Redemption and the method of our salvation. For if man, made after the image and likeness of God, had retained the dignity of his own nature, and had not been deceived bythe devil's wiles into transgressing through lust the law laid down for him, the Creator of the world would not have become a Creature, the Eternal would not have entered the sphere of time, nor God the Son, Who is equal with God the Father, have assumed the form of a slave and the likeness of sinful flesh. But because "by the devil's malice death entered into the worldhyperlink ," and captive humanity could not otherwise be set free without His undertaking our cause, Who without loss of His majesty should both become true Man, and alone have no taint of sin, the mercy of the Trinity divided for Itself the work of our restoration in such a way that the Father should be propitiated, the Son should propitiatehyperlink , and the Holy Ghost enkindle. For it was necessary that those who are to be saved should also do something on their part, and by the turning of their hearts to the Redeemer should quit the dominion of the enemy, even as the Apostle says, "God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Fatherhyperlink ," "And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is libertyhyperlink ," and "no one can call Jesus Lord except in the Holy Spirithyperlink ."
III. But This Apportionment of Functions Does Not Mar the Unity of the Trinity.
If, therefore, under guiding grace, dearly-beloved, we faithfully and wisely understand what is the particular work of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and what is common to the Three in our restoration, we shall without doubt so accept what has been wrought for us by humiliation and in the body as to think nothing unworthy about the One and Selfsame Glory of the Trinity. For although no mind is competent to think, no tongue to speak about God, yet whatever that is which the human intellect apprehends about the essence of the Father's Godhead, unless one and the selfsame truth is held concerning His Only-begotten or the Holy Spirit, our meditations are disloyal, and beclouded by the intrusions of the flesh, and even that is lost, which seemed a right conclusion concerning the Father, because the whole Trinity is forsaken, if the Unity therein is not maintained; and That Which is different by any inequality can in no true sense be One.
IV. In Thinking Upon God, We Must Put Aside All Material Notions.
When, therefore, we fix our minds on confessing the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, let us keep far from our thoughts the forms of things visible, the ages of beings born in time, and all material bodies and places. Let that which is extended in space, that which is enclosed by limit, and whatever is not always everywhere and entire be banished from the heart. The conception of the Triune Godhead must put aside the idea of interval or of gradehyperlink , and if a man has attained any worthy thought of God, let him not dare to withhold it from any Person therein, as if to ascribe with more honour to the Father that which he does not ascribe to the Son and Spirit. It is not true Godliness to put the Father before the Only-begotten: insult to the Son is insult to the Father: what is detracted from the One is detracted from Both. For since Their Eternity and Godhead are alike common, the Father is not accounted either Almighty and Unchangeable, if He begot One less than Himself or gained by having One Whom before He had nothyperlink .
V. Christ as Man is Less Than the Father, as God Co-Equal.
The Lord Jesus does, indeed, say to His disciples, as was read in the Gospel lection, "if ye loved Me, ye would assuredly rejoice, because I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than Ihyperlink ;" but those ears, which have often heard the words, "I and the Father are Onehyperlink ," and "He that sees Me, sees the Father alsohyperlink ," 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 ye loved Me," He says, "ye would assuredly rejoice, because I go to the Father:" that is, if, with complete knowledge ye 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," "ye 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 am 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, gohyperlink 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.
VI. And This Equality Which the Son Has with the Father, the Holy Ghost Also Has.
Accordingly, dearly-beloved, let us despise the vain and blind cunning of ungodly heretics, which flatters itself over its crooked interpretation of this sentence, and when the Lord says, "All things that the Father hath are Minehyperlink ," does not understand that it takes away from the Father whatever it dares to deny to the Son, and is so foolish in matters even which are human as to think, that what is His Father's has ceased to belong to His Only-begotten, because He has taken on Him what is ours. Mercy in the case of God does not lessen power, nor is the reconciliation of the creature whom He loves a falling off of Eternal glory. What the Father has the Son also has, and what the Father and the Son have, the Holy Ghost also has, because the whole Trinity together is One God. But this Faith is not the discovery of earthly wisdom nor the conviction of man's opinion: the Only-begotten Son has taught it Himself, and the Holy Ghost has established it Himself, concerning Whom no other conception must be formed than is formed concerning the Father and the Son. Because albeit He is not the Father nor the Son, yet He is not separable from the Father and the Son: and as He has His own personality in the Trinity, so has He One substance in Godhead with the Father and the Son, filling all things, containing all things, and with the Father and the Son controlling all things, to Whom is the honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Bright (n. 133) quotes Aug (in Joan. Evan. Tr. 92, c. 1 and Serm. 267, 1) for the opinion, which Leo here seems to follow, that the "all" of Acts ii. 1 includes the 120 (cf. A i. 20) as well as the twelve.
2 Wisd. ii. 24.
3 "The Atonement is a reconciling not merely of man to GOD but of GOD to man," says Archbp. Trench, and that, as S. Thomas Aquinas explains, In regard to our sins not in regard to our nature us which regard He always loves us (passages quoted by Bright, n. 54).
4 Gal. iv. 6.
5 2 Cor. iii. 17.
6 1 Cor. xii. 3.
7 See Serm. LXXV chap. 3 n. 3.
8 See Serm XXIII chap. 2.
9 S. John xiv. 28 ; x. 30 ; xiv. 9. In the English Church, the Gospel for Whitsunday is still the same as it was in Leo's time at Rome.
10 S. John xiv. 28 ; x. 30 ; xiv. 9. In the English Church, the Gospel for Whitsunday is still the same as it was in Leo's time at Rome.
11 S. John xiv. 28 ; x. 30 ; xiv. 9. In the English Church, the Gospel for Whitsunday is still the same as it was in Leo's time at Rome.
12 Vadat (subj.) others read vadit (indic.) = goes, in which ase Christ is still imagined to be speaking. If we read vadat, His utterance ends with the last sentence.
13 S. John xvi. 15.
Sermon LXXVIII. (on the Whidsuntide Fast, I.)
I. Since the Apostles' Day Till Now Self-Restraint is the Best Defence Against the Devil's Assaults.
To-day's festival, dearly-beloved, hallowed by the descent of the Holy Ghost, is followed, as you know by a solemn fast, which being a salutary institution for the healing of soul and body, we must keep with devout observance. For when the Apostles had been filled with the promised power, and the Spirit of Truth had entered their hearts, we doubt not that among the other mysteries of heavenly doctrine this discipline of spiritual self-restraint was first thought of at the prompting of the Paraclete in order that minds sanctified by fasting might be fitter for the chrism to be bestowed on themhyperlink . The disciples of Christ had the protection of the Almighty aid, and the chiefs of the infant Church were guarded by the whole Godhead of the Father and the Son through the presence of the Holy Ghost. But against the threatened attacks of persecutors, against the terrifying shouts of the ungodly, they could not fight with bodily strength or pampered flesh, since that which delights the outer does most harm to the inner man, and the more one's fleshly substance is kept in subjection, the more purified is the reasoning soul.
II. The Templer is Foiled in Attacks Upon Those Who Have Learnt These Tactics.
And so those teachers, who have instructed all the Church's sons by their examples and their traditions, began the rudiments of the Christian warfare with holy fasts, that, having to fight against spiritual wickednesses, they might take the armour of abstinence, wherewith to slay the incentives to vice. For invisible foes and incorporeal enemies will have no strength against us, if we be not entangled in any lusts of the flesh. The desire to hurt us is indeed ever active in the tempter, but he will be disarmed and powerless, if he find no vantage around within us from which to attack us. But who, encompassed with this frail flesh, and placed in this body of death, even one who has made much decided progress, can be so sure of his safety now, as to believe himself free from the peril of all allurements? Although Divine Grace gives daily victory to His saintshyperlink , yet He does not remove the occasion for fighting, because this very fact is part of our Protector's Mercy, Who has always designed that something should remain for our ever-changing nature to win, lest it should boast itself on the ending of the battle.
III. And So This Fast Comes Very Opportunely After the Feast of Whitsuntide.
Therefore, after the days of holy gladness, which we have devoted to the honour of the Lord rising from the dead and then ascending into heaven, and after receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a fast is ordained as a wholesome and needful practice, so that, if perchance through neglect or disorder even amid the joys of the festival any undue licence has broken out, it may be corrected by the remedy of strict abstinence, which must be the more scrupulously carried out in order that what was on this day Divinely bestowed on the Church may abide in us. For being made the Temple of the Holy Ghost, and watered with a greater supply than ever of the Divine Stream, we ought not to be conquered by any lusts nor held in possession by any vices in order that the habitation of Divine power may be stained with no pollution.
IV. And by Proper Use of It We Shall Win God's Favour.
And this assuredly it is possible for all to obtain, God helping and guiding us, if by the purification of fasting and by merciful liberality, we take pains to be set free from the filth of sins, and to be rich in the fruits of love. For whatever is spent in feeling the poor, in healing the sick, in ransoming prisoners, or in any other deeds of piety, is not lessened but increased, nor will that ever be lost in the sight of God which the loving-kindness of the faithful has expended, seeing that whatever a man gives in relief, he lays up for his own reward. For "blessed are the merciful, since God shall have mercy on themhyperlink ;" nor wilt shortcomings be remembered, where the presence of true religion has been attested. On Wednesday and Friday, therefore, let us fast, and on Saturday let us keep vigil in the presence of the most blessed Apostle, Peter, by whose prayers we surely trust to be set free both from spiritual foes and bodily enemies; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Cf. note 9 on Lett. CLVI. chap. 5.
2 Cf. Serm. LXXXVIII. chap. 3, licet quotidiano Dei munere a diversis contaminationibus emundemur, inhaerent tamen incautis animis maculoe crassiores quas aborteat diligentiori cura ablui.
3 S.Matt.v. 7.
Sermon LXXXII. On the Feasthyperlink Of the Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29).
I. Rome Owes Its High Position to These Apostles.
The whole world, dearly-beloved, does indeed take part in all holy anniversaries, and loyalty to the one Faith demands that whatever is recorded as done for all men's salvation should be everywhere celebrated with common rejoicings. But, besides that reverence which to-day's festival has gained from all the world, it is to be honoured with special and peculiar exultation in our city, that there may be a predominance of gladness on the day of their martyrdom in the place where the chief of the Apostles met their glorious endhyperlink . For these are the men, through whom the light of Christ's gospel shone on thee, O Rome, and through whom thou, who wast the teacher of error, wast made the disciple of Truth. These are thy holy Fathers and true shepherds, who gave thee claims to be numbered among the heavenly kingdoms, and built thee under much better and happier auspices than they, by whose zeal the first foundations of thy walls were laid: and of whom the one that gave thee thy name defiled thee with his brother's bloodhyperlink . These are they who promoted thee to such glory, that being made a holy nation, a chosen people, a priestly and royal statehyperlink , and the head of the world through the blessed Peter's holy See thou didst attain a wider sway. by the worship of God than by earthly government. For although thou weft increased by many victories, and didst extend thy rule on land and sea, yet what thy toils in war subdued is less than what the peace of Christ has conquered.
II. The Extension of the Roman Empire Was Part of the Divine Scheme.
For the good, just, and Almighty God, Who has never withheld His mercy from mankind, and has ever instructed all men alike in the knowledge of Himself by the most abundant benefits, has by a more secret counsel and a deeper love shown pity upon the wanderers' voluntary blindness and proclivities to evil, by sending His co-equal and co-eternal Word. Which becoming flesh so united the Divine Nature with the human that He by lowering His Nature to the uttermost has raised our nature to the highest. But that the result of this unspeakable Grace might be spread abroad throughout the world, God's Providence made ready the Roman empire, whose growth has reached such limits that the whole multitude of nations are brought into close connexion. For the Divinely-planned work particularly required that many kingdoms should be leagued together under one empire, so that the preaching of the world might quickly reach to all people, when they were held beneath the rule of one state. And yet that state, in ignorance of the Author of its aggrandisement though it rule almost all nations, was enthralled by the errors of them all, and seemed to itself to have fostered religion greatly, because it rejected no falsehood. And hence its emancipation through Christ was the more wondrous that it had been so fast bound by Satan.
III. On the Dispersing of the Twelve, St. Peter Was Sent to Rome.
For when the twelve Apostles, after receiving through the Holy Ghost the power of speaking with all tongues, had distributed the world into parts among themselves, and undertaken to instruct it in the Gospel, the most blessed Peter, chief of the Apostolic band, was appointed to the citadel of the Roman empire, that the light of Truth which was being displayed for the salvation of all the nations, might spread itself more effectively throughout the body of the world from the head itself. What nation had not representatives then living in this city; or what peoples did not know what Rome had learnt? Here it was that the tenets of philosophy must be crushed, here that the follies of earthly wisdom must be dispelled, here that the cult of demons must be refuted, here that theblasphemy of all idolatries must be rooted out, here where the most persistent superstition had gathered together all the various errors which had anywhere been devised.
IV. St. Peter's Love Conquered His Fears in Coming to Rome.
To this city then, most blessed Apostle Peter, thou dost not fear to come, and when the Apostle Paul; the partner of thy glory, was still busied with regulating other churches, didst enter this forest of roaring beasts, this deep, stormy ocean with greater boldness than when thou didst walk upon the sea. And thou who hadst been frightened by the high priest's maid in the house of Caiaphas, hadst no fear of Rome the mistress of the world. Was there any less power in Claudius, any less cruelty in Nero than in the judgment of Pilate or the Jews' savage rage? So then it was the force of love that conquered the reasons for fear: and thou didst not think those to be feared whom thou hadst undertaken to love. But this feeling of fearless affection thou hadst even then surely conceived when the profession of thy love for the Lord was confirmed by the mystery of the thrice-repeated question. And nothing else was demanded of this thy earnest purpose than that thou shouldst bestow the food wherewith thou hadst thyself been enriched, on feeding His sheep whom thou didst love.
V. S. Peter Was Providentially Prepared for His Great Mission.
Thy confidence also was increased by many miraculous signs, by many gifts of grace, by many proofs of power. Thou hadst already taught the people, who from the number of the circumcised had believed: thou hadst already founded the Church at Antioch, where first the dignity of the Christian name arose: thou hadst already instructed Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, in the laws of the Gospel-message: and, without doubt as to the success of the work, with full knowledge of the short span of thy life didst carry the trophy of Christ's cross into the citadel of Rome, whither by the Divine fore-ordaining there accompanied thee the honour of great power and the glory of much suffering.
VI. Many Noble Martyrs Have Sprung from the Blood of Ss. Peter and Paul.
Thither came also thy blessed brother-Apostle Paul, "the vessel of electionhyperlink ," and the special teacher of the Gentiles, and was associated with thee at a time when all innocence, all modesty, all freedom was into jeopardy under Nero's rule. Whose fury, inflamed by excess of all vices, hurled him headlong into such a fiery furnace of madness that he was the first to assail the Christian name with a general persecution, as if God's Grace could be quenched by the death of saints, whose greatest gain it was to win eternal happiness by contempt of this fleeting life. "Precious," therefore, "in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saintshyperlink :" nor can any degree of cruelty destroy the religion which is founded on the mystery of Christ's cross. Persecution does not diminish but increase the church, and the Lord's field is clothed with an ever richer crop, while the grains, which fall singly, spring up and are multiplied a hundred-foldhyperlink . Hence how large a progeny have sprung from these two Heaven-sown seeds is shown by the thousands of blessed martyrs, who, rivalling the Apostles' triumphs, have traversed the city far and wide in purple-clad and ruddy-gleaming throngs, and crowned it, as it were with a single diadem of countless gems.
VII. No Distinction Must Be Drawn Between the Merits of the Two.
And over this band, dearly-beloved, whom God has set forth for our example in patience and for our confirmation in the Faith, there must be rejoicing everywhere in the commemoration of all the saints, but of these two Fathers' excellence we must rightly make our boast in louder joy, for God's Grace has raised them to so high a place among the members of the Church, that He has set them like the twin light of the eyes in the body, whose Head is Christ. About their merits and virtues, which pass all power of speech, we must not make distinctions, because they were equal in their electionhyperlink , alike in their toils, undivided in their death. But as we have proved for Ourselves, and our forefathers maintained, we believe, and are sure that, amid all the toils of this life, we must always be assisted in obtaining God's Mercy by the prayers of special interceders, that we may be raised by the Apostles' merits in proportion as we are weighed down by our own sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.
1 Natali, lit. birthday; but the early Church gave this beautiful name to, and kept the memory of Saints on, the day of their death. (cf. below, in die martyrii eorum) in all cases except that of S. John the Baptist (from the importance of his natural birthday in connexion with the LORD's Nativity). The Conversion of S. Paul is a later exception.
2 It is of course well known that this is very debatable ground, and as such, it is wiser to leave it untouched in a work which is only intended as a means of of rendering English-speaking people aquainted with Leo's views and statements. It will be noticed however, that the historically verified connexion of S. Paul with Rome is as nothing in his eyes in comparison with the very apocryphal connexion of S. Peter: cf. below, per sacram beati Petri sedem, on which the Ballerinii very appropriately quote Prosper de Ingratis: - Sedes Roma Petri, quoe pastoralis honore facta caput mundo, quidquid non possidet armis religione tenet.The Roman Calendar still retains the double commemoration of June 29.
3 i.e. Romulus (the traditional founder of Rome) murdered his brother, Remus.
4 Cf. 1 S. Pet. ii. 9.
5 Acts ix. 15.
6 Ps. cxvi. 15.
7 This is a commonplace with the Fathers: S. Augustine is esp. fond of it; Hurter quotes from him de catech.rud. chap. xxiv. and four times on the Psalms. Cf. Serm. XXXVI. chap. iii. n. 1.
8 Electio pares (fecit) omitted by the oldest Vatican ms. but undoubtedly genuine, the allusion being obviously to S. Paul's claim to equal apostleship with the Twelve more than once advanced (e.g. 2 Cor. xi. 5, &c.). This then is an interesting passage when read side by side with Leo's Petrine claims, but does not really contradict them, though the lauguage here used, esp. the figure of the two eyes, is strong.
Sermon LXXXIVhyperlink . Concerning the Neglect of the Commemoration.
I. The Churchmen of Rome are in Danger of Forgetting Past Judgments and Mercies, and Becoming Ungrateful to God.
The fewness of those who were present has of itself shown, dearly-beloved, that the religious devotion wherewith, in commemoration of the day of our chastisement and release, the whole body of the faithful used to flock together in order to give God thanks, has on this last occasion been almost entirely neglected: and this has caused me much sadness of heart and great fear. For there is much danger of men becoming ungrateful to God, and through forgetfulness of His benefits not feeling sorrow for the chastisement, nor joy for the liberation. Accordingly I fear, dearly-beloved, lest that utterance of the Prophet be addressed in rebuke to such men, which says, "thou hast scourged them and they have not grieved: thou hast chastised them, and they have refused to receive correctionhyperlink " For what amendment is shown by them in whom such aversion to God's service is found? One is ashamed to say it, but one must not keep silence: more is spent upon demons than upon the Apostles, and mad spectacles draw greater crowds than blessed martyrdomshyperlink . Who was it that restored this city to safety? that rescued it from captivity? the games of the circus-goers or the care of the saints? surely it was by the saints' prayers that the sentence of Divine displeasure was diverted, so that we who deserved wrath, were reserved for pardon.
II. Let Them Avail Themselves Betimes of God's Long-Suffering and Return to Him.
I entreat you, beloved, let those words of the Saviour touch your hearts, Who, when by the power of His mercy He had cleansed ten lepers, said that only one of them all had returned to give thankshyperlink : meaning without doubt that, though the ungrateful ones had gained soundness of body, yet their failure in this godly duty arose from ungodliness of heart. And therefore, dearly-beloved, that this brand of ingratitude may not be applied to you, return to the Lord, remembering the marvels which He has deigned to perform among us; and ascribing. our release not, as the ungodly suppose, to the influences of the stars, but to the unspeakable mercy of Almighty God, Who has deigned to soften the hearts of raging barbarians, betake yourselves to the commemoration of so great a benefit with all the vigour of faith. Grave neglect must be atoned for by yet greater tokens of repentance. Let us use the Mercy of Him, Who has spared us, to our own amendment, that the blessed Peter and all the saints, who have always been near us in many afflictions, may deign to aid our entreaties for you to the merciful God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1 There is some doubt as to the exact occasion of this sermon. It seems to have been connected with the yearly commemoration (not the first or second from the language Leo uses), of that 14 days' pillage of Rome by Genseric (in 455) and of the city's subsequent liberaton, in which Leo took so important a part. But the date ascribed to the sermon's delivery (the octave of SS. Peter and Paul, i.e. July 6) does not tally well with its allusions to the ludi circenses as counter-attractions to the recent Church functions. A reference to Serm. IX. n. 6, will remind the reader that it was the ludi Apollinares that, at least in the past, were associated with that date: perhaps Leo's phrase ludus Circensium is only a general description and would include the Apollinarian games as being still held in Circo as well as others. The ludi Circenses themselves were held Sept. 4-12.
2 Jer. v. 3.
3 Martyria, which the Ball. here consider means the churches built in honour (?on the scene) of the martyrdoms.
4 Cf. S. Luke xvii. 18.
Sermon LXXXV. On the Feast of S. Laurence the Martyrhyperlink (Aug. 10).
I. The Example of the Martyrs is Most Valuable
Whilst the height of all virtues, dearly-beloved, and the fulness of all righteousness is born of that love, wherewith God and one's neighbour is loved, surely in none is this love found more conspicuous and brighter than in the blessed martyrs; who are as near to our Lord Jesus, Who died for all men, in the imitation of His love, as in the likeness of their suffering. For, although that Love, wherewith the Lord has redeemed us, cannot be equalled by any man's kindness, because it is one thing that a man who is doomed to die one day should die for a righteous man, and another that One Who is free from the debt of sin should lay down His life for the wickedhyperlink : yet the martyrs also have done great service to all men, in that the Lord Who gave them boldness, has used it to show that the penalty of death and the pain of the cross need not be terrible to any of His followers, but might be imitated by many of them. If therefore no good man is good for himself alone, and no wise man's wisdom befriends himself only, and the nature of true virtue is such that it leads many away from the dark error on which its light is shed, no model is more useful in teaching God's people than that of the martyrs. Eloquence may make intercession easy, reasoning may effectually persuade; but yet examples are stronger than words, and there is more teaching in practice than in precept.
II. The Saint's Martyrdom Described.
And how gloriously strong in this most excellent manner of doctrine the blessed martyr Laurentius is, by whose sufferings to-day is marked, even his persecutors were able to feel, when they found that his wondrous courage, born principally of love for Christ, not only did not yield itself, but also strengthened others by the example of his endurance. For when the fury of the gentile potentates was raging against Christ's most chosen members, and attacked those especially who were of priestly rank, the wicked persecutor's wrath was vented on Laurentius the deacon, who was pre-eminent not only in the performance of the sacred rites, but also in the management of the church's propertyhyperlink , promising himself double spoil from one man's capture: for if he forced him to surrender the sacred treasures, he would also drive him out of the pale of true religion. And so this man, so greedy of money and such a foe to the truth, arms himself with double weapon: with avarice to plunder the gold; with impiety to carry off Christ. He demands of the guileless guardian of the sanctuary that the church wealth on which his greedy mind was set should be brought to him. But the holy deacon showed him where he had them stored, by pointing to the many troops of poor saints, in the feeding and clothing of whom he had a store of riches which he could hot lose, and which were the more entirely safe that the money had been spent on so holy a cause.
III.the Description of His Sufferings Continued.
The baffled plunderer, therefore, frets, and blazing out into hatred of a religion, which had put riches to such a use, determines to pillage a still greater treasure by carrying off that sacred deposithyperlink , wherewith he was enriched, as he could find no solid hoard of money in his possession. He orders Laurentius to renounce Christ, and prepares to ply the deacon's stout courage with frightful tortures: and, when the first elicit nothing, fiercer follow. His limbs, torn and mangled by many cutting blows, are commanded to be broiled upon the fire in an iron frameworkhyperlink , which was of itself already hot enough to burn him, and on which his limbs were turned from time to time, to make the torment fiercer, and the death more lingering.
IV. Laurentius Has Conquered His Persecutor.
Thou gainest nothing, thou prevailest nothing, O savage cruelty. His mortal frame is released from thy devices, and, when Laurentius departs to heaven, thou art vanquished. The flame of Christ's love could not be overcome by thy flames, and the fire which burnt outside was less keen than that which blazed within. Thou didst but serve the martyr in thy rage, O persecutor: thou didst but swell the reward in adding to the pain. For what did thy cunning devise, which did not redound to the conqueror's glory, when even the instruments of torture were counted as part of the triumph? Let us rejoice, then, dearly-beloved, with spiritual joy, and make our boast over the happy end of this illustrious man in the Lord, Who is "wonderful in His saintshyperlink ," in whom He has given us a support and an example, and has so spread abroad his glory throughout the world, that, from the rising of the sun to its going down, the brightness of his deacon's light doth shine, and Rome is become as famous in Laurentius as Jerusalem was ennobled by Stephen. By his prayer and intercessionhyperlink we trust at all times to be assisted; that, because all, as the Apostle says, "who wish to live holily in Christ, suffer persecutionhyperlink ," we may be strengthened with the spirit of love, and be fortified to overcome all temptations by the perseverance of steadfast faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.
1 S. Laurence was the chief Deacon in the time of Sextus II., and was martyred in the persecution of Valerian, 258, in the way detailed by Leo in this Sermon. His was a very favourite festival in the Middle Ages both in the East and West.
2 Cf. Rom.v.7,8.
3 It will be remembered that "the serving of tables" was from the first institution of the office one of the principal duties of the deacon (levita), see Acts vi. 1-6. This side of the office has latterly fallen into abeyance and is but slightly recognized in the English Ordinal.
4 Depositum, viz. his faith, the paraqh/kh 1Tim. vi. 20.
5 Per cratem ferream usually represented in pictures, or statues of the saints as a gridiron.