A lesson about Leo: Weekly Message for 11-07-2023

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Church this week celebrates the feast day of Saint Leo the Great, one of the outstanding popes of all time.

Leo took on big challenges both theological and political. He worked to counter the heresies of Pelagianism, which saw humanity as so good as not to need redemption, and Manichaeism, which saw everything material as evil. And he strongly expounded the Church’s teaching on the two natures of Christ. In A.D. 452 Leo led a delegation to meet Attila the Hun in northern Italy and managed to dissuade him from attacking Rome. And besides all that, Leo was known as a great administrator.

His papacy is a reminder of how the Church has survived challenges on many fronts.

That gives us good reason not to get discouraged by the divisions that shake the Church and by the rising violence that torments the world. Strife has long laced the pages of world history and Church history. Maybe that’s one reason Jesus assured us at the close of one Gospel account that he would be with us “Until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Part of the Pelagian heresy claimed that we could achieve salvation on our own. Our Lord taught us differently, taking up a cross for our redemption.

Just as we need God’s help to reach a heavenly paradise, we need him here and now if there is to be some level of real peace and happiness in this world. To focus on that truth, it might be helpful to pray along with our “Retreat Guide on “Navigating Stormy Seas.”

It might inspire us with a bit of that heaven-sent strength that allowed Leo to weather the slings and arrows of a world awry.

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor

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