Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, Pope, and Doctor of the Church
Saint Paul wrote sometime in the mid-first century to the community he founded in Rome: “. . . You yourselves are full of goodness . . .” Four hundred years later, the Roman aristocrat who had become Pope Leo wrote in a Christmas Day sermon, “Christians, remember your dignity.” These two early church leaders based their “incarnational” spirituality on the same basic principle that our innate goodness comes from baptism in Christ. (Pope Leo is considered by Church historians to be one of the greatest popes of all time. He is one of two popes to be given the title “Doctor of the Church.”)
The references above remind me of our former parochial vicar, now in his mid-nineties, who retired just a few years ago. We remember Father “B” with great fondness how he began each Mass or greeted you on the church grounds. “Greetings, Saints!” he would proclaim. He also consistently reminded us at the Penitential Rite that we were sometimes less than saints and had our peculiar wounds. And yet, his firm belief in the innate goodness and dignity of each of us was a happy message to pray and contemplate: both an affirmation of the divine within and a call to live up to that divine within.
Based on the letters I’ve read from Father Eymard and his accounts of ministering to the rebellious “ragpicker” youth from the slums of Paris, he must have regarded the people to whom he ministered. Testimonies of those who knew him would support that notion.
Who is the Father “B” or the Father Eymard in your life? How might you and I be that kind of person today?
Let Us Pray:
Dear Lord, remind us of our goodness and dignity. Strengthen our resolve to see the goodness and dignity in each person I meet today. May we become what we eat at the Eucharist we celebrate.