From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great,
The virtue of charity
In the gospel of John the Lord says: In this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for each other. In a letter of the same apostle we read: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God; he who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
The faithful should therefore enter into themselves and make a true judgment on their attitudes of mind and heart. If they find some store of loves fruit in their hearts, they must not doubt Gods presence within them. If they would increase their capacity to receive so great a guest, they should practice greater generosity in doing good, with persevering charity.
If God is love, charity should know no limit, for God cannot be confined.
Any time is the right time for works of charity, but these days of Lent provide a special encouragement. Those who want to be present at the Lords Passover in holiness of mind and body should seek above all to win this grace, for charity contains all other virtues and covers a multitude of sins.
As we prepare to celebrate that greatest of all mysteries, by which the blood of Jesus Christ did away with our sins, let us first of all make ready the sacrificial offerings of works of mercy. In this way we shall give to those who have sinned against us what God in his goodness has already given us.
Let us now extend to the poor and those afflicted in different ways a more open-handed generosity, so that God may be thanked through many voices and the relief of the needy supported by our fasting. No act of devotion on the part of the faithful gives God more pleasure than that which is lavished on his poor. Where he finds charity with its loving concern, there he recognizes the reflection of his own fatherly care.
In these acts of giving do not fear a lack of means. A generous spirit is itself great wealth. There can be no shortage of material for generosity where it is Christ who feeds and Christ who is fed. In all this activity there is present the hand of him who multiplies the bread by breaking it, and increasing it by giving it away.
The giver of alms should be free from anxiety and full of joy. His gain will be greatest when he keeps back least for himself. The holy apostle Paul tells us: He who provides seed for the sower will also provide bread for eating; he will provide you with more seed, and will increase the harvest of your goodness, in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
“Remember, O man, that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return”
A Lenten reflection on “Forgiving the Living” a phrase used by Immaculee Ilibagiza in her own story:
Left To Tell, Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
Most of us struggle to forgive, finding it difficult to put aside our bumps and bruises. We savor our wounds as though they give us pleasure. We are a strange lot.
Imagine, if you can, living with the memory of genocide. Not a genocide across the world from you, but surrounding you; a genocide that includes your mother and father, your brothers, friends and all your neighbors in one way or another. Imagine a genocide you can smell and touch and that touches you, that calls your name, hunts you and haunts you.
For thousands in the world today, that is the reality. For one particular soul, Immaculee Ilabigiza, the author of Left to Tell, this reality has sprouted wings. She flies high above her small village in Rwanda living forgiveness, not as a half-hearted effort, but as a mission. A dream, that she believes was given her by God, opened her heart to the world. Her touch is one of grace and healing. Immaculee was left behind to let us know that in order to truly be alive to Life, we can and must forgive by the living grace of God.