"Short and fleeting are the joys of this world's pleasures which endeavors to turn aside from the path of life those who are called to eternity. The faithful and religious spirit, therefore, must desire the things which are heavenly, and being eager for the Divine promises, lift itself to the love of the incorruptible Good and the hope of the true Light." Pope St. Leo the Great
Titus 3: 6-7
But when the kindness and generous love
of God our savior appeared,
not because of any righteous deeds we had done
but because of his mercy,
he saved us through the bath of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he richly poured out on us
through Jesus Christ our savior,
so that we might be justified by his grace
and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
This Tuesday is the Feast of the Dedication of the Cathedral Church of Rome, the Basilica of St. John Lateran and Wednesday, the Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great. Two memorials that tie our Catholic life together in union with the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and those other rites in union with Rome, the Successor of St. Peter, the first among the twelve Apostles. Fifth century Pope Leo I, known as the great peacemaker who fended off Attila the Hun no less thus saving the city of Rome from Barbarian invasion, and who held the Church tight against rampant heresies such as Nestorianism, is a giant of early Christian history. That’s quite a list of memories.
Because of the role of our Holy Father, around whose person the Church is united as one in Christ, this Cathedral of Rome is a Church for all of us. Whether we travel to Rome and tour the customary four Basilicas of St. Peter at the Vatican, St. Mary Major, St. Paul outside the Walls and St. John, by their historical significance for Christian/Catholic history, they are sacred places for us as well.
Having survived war, fire, earthquakes, corruption, virtue, and a host of “colorful” Popes, both saint and “not a saint,” these few days are good for us to reflect upon who we are as “the temple of God” in whom “the Spirit of God dwells . . .” As Titus reminds us in the reading above, we are saved through the mercy of God and the waters of our baptism. What part of my life needs to be dusted, mopped, washed clean to live more freely the life begun at my baptism? When was the last time I went to confession? I have learned, not always through the easiest of means, that it must begin not with others but with myself.
God our Father,
you will never allow the power of hell
to prevail against your Church,
founded on the rock of the apostle Peterr.
Let the prayers of Pope Leo the Great
keep us faithful to your truth
and secure in your peace.