Sermon of /by Saint LEO the Great, pope ‘Sermo I de Ascensione,
Beloved the days which passed between the Lord’s resurrection and his ascension were by no means uneventful; during them great sacramental mysteries were confirmed, great truths revealed. In those days the fear of death with all its horrors was taken away, and the immortality of both body and soul affirmed. It was then the the Lord breathed on the Apostles and filled them with the holy Spirit; and after giving the keys of the kingdom to blessed Peter, whom he had chosen and set above all the others, he entrusted the care of his flock.
During these days Lord joined two of his disciples as their companion on the road, and by chiding them for their timidity and hesitant fears he swept away all the clouds of our uncertainty. Their lukewarm hearts were fired by the light of faith and began to burn within them as the Lord opened scriptures. And as they shared their meal with him, their eyes were opened in the breaking of the bread, opened far more happily to the sight of their own glorified humanity than were the eyes of our first parents to the shame of their sin.
Throughout the whole period between he resurrection and ascension, God’s providence was at work to instill one lesson into the hearts of the disciples, to set this one truth before their eyes, that our Lord Jesus Christ, who was truly born, truly suffered and truly died, should be recognized as truly risen from the dead. The blessed apostles together with all the others had been intimidated by the catastrophe of the cross, and their faith in the resurrection had been uncertain; but now they were so strengthened by the evident truth that when their Lord ascended into heaven, far from feeling any sadness, they were filled with great joy.
Indeed that blessed company had a great and inexpressible cause for joy when it saw man’s nature rising above the dignity of the whole heavenly creation, above the ranks of angels, above the exalted status of archangels. Nor would there be any limit to its upward course until humanity was admitted at last in the glory of him to whose nature it was wedded in the person of the Son. Leo the Great, Pope
New Advent History:
Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo’s pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity. At a time when the Church was experiencing the greatest obstacles to her progress in consequence of the hastening disintegration of the Western Empire, while the Orient was profoundly agitated over dogmatic controversies, this great pope, with far-seeing sagacity and powerful hand, guided the destiny of the Roman and Universal Church. According to the “Liber Pontificalis” source:http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09154b.htm
In 452 Pope Leo went with a Roman delegation, to meet Attila, chief of the Huns, in Mantua and succeeded in dissuading him from his war of invasion in which he had already devastated the northeastern regions of Italy. This important event is emblematic of the Leo’s action for peace.
A second papal initiative three years later was not quite as successful, but it showed his outstanding courage: in the spring of 455 Leo did not manage to prevent Genseric’s Vandals, who had reached the gates of Rome, from invading the undefended city which they plundered for two weeks. But his gesture of going out to meet Genseric, defenseless and surrounded by his clergy, prevented Rome from being burned. It assured that the Basilicas of St Peter, St Paul and St John, in which the terrified population sought refuge, were spared.
Sermons and Letters
Leo’s 100 sermons – in a splendid and clear Latin – and his 150 letters show his exercise of the Word and his devotion to the service of truth in charity. He presented himself as the Apostle Peter’s authentic heir and as a tireless champion and upholder of the Roman primacy.
to the Patriarch of the East Flavian
The most important letter of Leo was that sent to the Patriarch of the East Flavian, which when read to the bishops assembled at the Council of Chalcedon (451) was gratefully acclaimed. “It is Peter who has spoken through Leo. This is what we all of us believe. This is the faith of the Apostles”, the 500 Council Fathers cried out in unison. It rejected the heresy of Eutyches who denied the true human nature of the Son of God, affirmed the union of both the divine and human natures in the one person of Jesus, without confusion or separation. This quotation expresses the true doctrine: