Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

"Dearly beloved, in the joy of each and every holy feast the whole world may have a share.  For there is but one love of God, and whatsoever is solemnly called to memory, if it hath been done for the salvation of all, must needs be worth the honour of a joyful memorial at the hands of all.  Nevertheless, this feast which we are keeping today, besides that world-wide worship which it doth of right get throughout all the earth, deserveth from this our City of Rome an outburst of gladness altogether special and our own.  For in this place it was that the two chiefest of the Apostles did so right gloriously finish their race.  And upon this day whereon they lifted up that their last testimony, let it be that the memory thereof receiveth in this place the chiefest of all its jubilant  celebrations.  O Rome! these twain are the men who brought the light of the Gospel of Christ to shine upon thee!  These are they by whom thou, from being the teacher of lies, wast turned into a learner of the truth.

These twain are thy fathers; they truly are thy shepherds!  These twain are they who laid foundations for thee (that thou mightest upbuild the kingdom of heaven) better and happier than did the Romulus (from whom thou art named), when he first planned thine earthly ramparts; which same he polluted with his brother's blood.  These twain are they who have set on thine head this day thy glorious crown, so that thou art become an holy nation, a chosen people, a city both priestly and kingly, whom the sacred throne of blessed Peter hath exalted till thou art become the Lady of the world, unto whom the world-wide love for God hath conceded a broader lordship than is the possession of any mere earthly empire.  Thou wast once waxen great by victories until thy power was spread haughtily over land and sea, but thy power was narrower then, which the toils of war had won for thee, than that thou now hast which hath been laid at thy feet by the peace of Christ.

It was convenient for the doing of the work which God had decreed, that the whole multitude of kingdoms should be bound together under one rule, and that so the universal preaching of the Gospel should find easier entry unto all people, since all were governed by the empire of one city.  But this City, knowing not him who had been pleased to make her great, used her lordship over almost all nations to make herself the minister of all their falsehoods; and seemed to herself exceedingly godly because there was no false god whom she rejected.  But the tighter that Satan had bound her, the more wondrous was the work of Christ in setting her free."

--  From a Sermon by St Leo the Great

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