Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pope St. Leo on the Common Priesthood

[Originally preached on September 29, 444:]

Although the Church of God as a whole has a hierarchical structure, so that the completeness of the sacred body consists in a diversity of members, “we are,” nevertheless, as the Apostle says, “one in Christ” (Gal. 3:28). No one functions so independently of another that even the lowliest part does not have some relationship with the Head to which it is connected. In the unity of faith and Baptism, we have an undifferentiated fellowship, dearly beloved, and a uniform dignity.

So proclaims the most blessed apostle Peter when he says with these most sacred words: “And you yourselves should be built up like living stones into spiritual dwellings, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pt. 2:5). And later on he says: “You, however, are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart" (1 Pt. 2:9). All who have been regenerated in Christ are made kings by the sign of the cross and consecrated priests by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Apart from the particular service that our ministry entails, all Christians who live spiritual lives according to reason recognize that they have a part in the royal race and the priestly office. What could be more royal than the soul in subjection to God ruling over its own body? What could be more priestly than dedicating a pure conscience to the Lord and offering spotless sacrifices of devotion from the altar of the heart? Since this has been given to everyone alike through the grace of God, it is a devout and praiseworthy thing for you to take joy in the day of our elevation as if in your own honor. Let the episcopacy be celebrated in the entire body of the Church as one single mystery. When the oil of benediction has been poured out, the mystery flows, though more abundantly onto the higher parts, yet not ungenerously down to the lower ones as well.


Source: Pope St. Leo the Great, "Sermon 4," in Leo the Great: Sermons (The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation), trans. by Jane Patricia Freeland and Agnes Josephine Conway (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996), 25–26.

Repost: St. Gregory on Envy and the Communicability of the Divine Good

Reposted from:

But why do we say so much about envy if we do not also suggest how to get rid of it? It is indeed hard for people not to envy someone who has what they want to acquire. Concerning any material good that is acquired, the more it is divided among many owners, the less of it does any single person have. And that is why the mind of the one who wants it suffers so much from spite: one person who has what that one wants has either bought up the whole supply or has made it scarcer. The one, therefore, who wishes to be rid of the plague of spite for good must fall in love with that inheritance that is not used up by the number of coheirs. It is one for all and all for each one. The more abundant it is, the greater the multitude of those who receive it. (Moralia 5.XLVI.86)