DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     November 10, 1998     vol. 9, no. 220


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Tuesday, November 10, 1998

      First Reading: Titus 2: 1-8, 11-14
      Psalms: Psalm 37: 3-4. 18, 23, 27, 29, 39
      Gospel Reading: Luke 17: 7-10

Feast of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

          Pope Saint Leo the Great who became the 45th in the line of Peter when he was chosen to succeed Sixtus III on September 29, 440. Born in Tuscany, Italy near the very end of the 4th Century, Leo came up through the ranks of the Deaconate and was in France attempting to reconcile the warring factions there when he was elected Pope. Though, like most pontiffs, he did not feel worthy, he nevertheless accepted the privileged and august duties of leading God's people through the middle of a most turbulent century. Naturally the people looked to him for leadership and to save them from the plights that would afflict them, yet Leo, as a humble but effective deacon knew he couldn't do it by and of himself. He placed everything in God's hands and constantly sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thus, in the hands of God, Leo became a powerful instrument to protect and honor the Church during the decay of the Roman Empire, the assaults of Arians, and the invasions of heathens. Three years into his papacy Leo convened an assembly to rebuke and endorse Pope Innocent I's condemnation of Manicheanism as well as exposing Nestorianism, Priscillianism, and Arianism. In 451 he called the Fourth General or Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon where he staunchly defended the Incarnation, defining the revealed teaching of faith that in Christ there are two distinct natures, the divine and the human, hypostatically united in one person. He also condemned the heresy of Eutyches. But the Byzantine Court did not convey his words to the people and the heresy grew stronger among the Eastern monks and bishops. This made it necessary for Leo to convene the Fifth Ecumenical Council, this time at Constantinople where he condemned in no uncertain terms the Three Chapters or heresies running rampant. He garnered the signatures of all the Bishops, proclaiming "Peter has spoken by Leo." He admonished his bishops to know their faith and to assure that their priests in each diocese were knowledgable in Dogma and Doctrine so that the people would not fall into the heresies that had assaulted the Church during the Third, Fourth and Fifth Centuries. Leo not only assured unity within ecclesiastical ranks, but re-established harmony among the faithful. He is called "great" because of his energetic work in maintaining unity, his involvement in the liturgy, politics, preaching and writings, which have been cherished and passed on through the ages. But to historians his greatest accomplishment came in 451.

         The year before a barbaric horde known as the Huns had overrun the Empire, pillaging and plundering Gaul and moving rapidly from the north through Italy to the gates of Rome. Fearing no man, Leo chose to meet Attila face to face at the gates. Many felt it was suicide and that Rome's fall was a fait accomplis, but Leo knew God would protect him and so he bravely confronted the pagan king at the gates of Rome, pursuading Attila to abandon his plans to sack the city. To everyone's astonishment Attila rounded up his horde and turned away from Rome. It was another in the many encounters down through the centuries where, through the grace of God, a superior force is turned away, evidence David slaying Goliath, the victory at Lepanto, Saint Clare holding aloft the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance to protect the city, and many more such cases where the power of God was manifested. Leo took very seriously his charge handed down from St. Peter to rule Christ's Church as Christ instructed. Leo knew it was not him who convinced Attila to forego his attempts on Rome, but the miraculous vision God allowed Attila to behold of Saints Peter and Paul standing behind Leo. The "Scourge of God" knew that any power this great was not to be messed with or he would be scourged by God, and so, totally overcome mentally by the vision he had seen, he retreated. It was the end of the threat so feared throughout Europe as the Hun king died two years later while Leo ruled another ten years, 21 in all, receiving his Heavenly reward on September 10, 461. In 1754 St. Leo was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV, honoring this great Pope for his great writings and wisdom at a pivotal time in Church and world history. He had shown great courage and his skills at governing the Church and emphasizing spirituality while juggling the political footballs of his time. His actions strengthened the Vatican's position in the world while bringing the people to a closer understanding of what Jesus meant in His words to Peter in Matthew 16: 18-19, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven."

Wednesday, November 11, 1998

      First Reading: Titus 3: 1-7
      Psalms: Psalm 23: 1-6
      Gospel Reading: Luke 17: 11-19

Feast of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop

         Born the son of a Roman officer and pagan parents in Hungary around the year 319, Saint Martin of Tours became the epitome of the Good Samaritan throughout his life, beginning at the age of 15. Having been educated at Pavia, Italy, Martin followed his father's footsteps when he enlisted in the Roman army as an imperial guard. On one cold day, the legend relates, he came upon a barely-clothed beggar who was shivering. As people passed him by, ignoring his pleas, Martin felt compassion. Having no money, only his weapons and his long red army-issued cloak, Martin drew his sword and slashed the cloak in half, giving the poor man the cloak to warm him. As he slept that night, Martin had a vision in his dreams of Jesus Christ who was wrapped in the half cloak Martin had bestowed on the beggar. It was a confirmation of Christ's words in Matthew 25:35-40 specifically the last verse, "Amen I say to you, as long as you did for one of these, the least of My brethren, you did it for Me." The dream had such a profound effect on Martin that he immediately sought out the Christians for catechumenism. Constantine had passed the Edict of Milan and Christians were now free to openly profess their faith. After six years as a catachumen, Martin was baptized and traded his commission in the army for the minor order of exorcist by Saint Hilary of Poitiers. After Hilary was exiled, Martin went back to his Hungarian homeland, where, through his example he converted his pagan mother. After Hilary was allowed to return to Poitiers in France, Martin left Hungary to rejoin Hilary there as his disciple. Martin was ordained and became a hermit on land that would eventually become the monastery of Liguge - the first ever monastery in France that was reinstated by the Benedictines in 1852 and still exists today. Martin gained the reputation of being a miracle worker after he had brought a catechumen back to life. He became so popular that the people of Tours demanded he become their bishop when the vacancy came. In 371 he was selected Bishop of Tours and dedicated his episcopate to evangelization. Four years later he founded the monastery at Marmoutiers where vocations multiplied, providing many priest-monks for the region and beyond. He was an excellent diplomat and administrator, convincing representatives of the Roman Empire in the west that the Church should have the same guidelines and freedom in France that Constantine afforded Holy Mother Church in Rome. His austere lifestyle was a bone of contention among other bishops and priests who fought his attempts to instill this way of life on them. While at a country parish trying to quell the division among the clergy, he died in 397 at the age of 78. His efforts and the seeds of faith he planted in French soil nourished France for centuries where Tours became the focal point of monastic life. He was one of the most well-beloved bishops of the 4th Century and has always been one of France's favorite saints so much so that in the autumn, when the leaves begin to fall, they call it "St. Martin's summer" for that is the time the people drink the new wine that has been harvested and wine represents the fruit of Christian virtue which Martin personified.

November 10, 1998       volume 9, no. 220


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