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St Leo the Great
Pope (Leo I) and Doctor of the Church (entered heaven this day in 461)
I was truly sorry to hear of the difficulties your COMPASS chapter is encountering this fall – sorry, but not surprised. The ancient enemy never tires of sowing weeds among the wheat, as our Lord pointed out. The important thing, of course, is to avoid discouragement, to stir up that precious virtue of hope and trust in God. And the way to do that is simply to remind yourself (preferably during a visit to the Chapel) that you are not the boss – God is. If you were the boss, you would have to be able to control everything in order to guarantee the success of your endeavors. But you aren’t, so you don’t. You are merely a rank and file soldier in the army of Christ, and he is the commanding officer. He can see the whole picture, and he will ensure that your efforts (if they are sincere and directed towards extending his Kingdom and not the kingdom of your ego) are not in vain. Take a lesson from today’s saint in this regard.
Leo the Great faced more and greater obstacles in his 21 years as Pope than most people face in a whole lifetime. It all began even before he was elected to the Chair of Peter – they had to send a delegation from Rome to Gaul (modern day France) to inform him of his Papal dignities; the previous Pope had dispatched Leo to resolve the violent quarrels between two imperial generals (Aetius and Albinus) that were threatening to leave all of Gaul at the mercy of invading Gothic barbarians. That kind of set the tone for the next two decades. In the Eastern half of the waning Roman Empire heresies were running rampant under the indecorous encouragement of haughty emperors. Leo had to reclaim the true faith from the energetic upstart Eutyches, who collaborated with Emperor Theodosius in calling an illegitimate Council (the infamous “Robber Synod” of Ephesus in 448) in order to propagate his errors. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Attila the Hun had invaded Italy, sending shock waves of terror and destruction throughout the peninsula. The Emperor (who had relocated to far away Constantinople) was helpless in the face of Attila’s frightful savagery, and as the barbarians approached Rome, the Romans, quaking in their sandals, huddled behind their dilapidated defenses and sent Leo out to negotiate. Miraculously, the negotiations were successful, and Leo saved Rome from destruction by agreeing to pay an annual tax to Mr Attila.
Such cataclysmic crises were on Leo’s daily agenda for 21 years. In the face of them, his unshakable trust in God not only kept discouragement at bay, but actually enabled him to thrive, to take every challenge as an opportunity to show his love for Christ by spreading and defending the Church. In this difficult moment of your foundation of Compass, why not take Pope St Leo as a special patron? I’m sure he’s just itching to get back into the fray.