5. And still further it should lead to personal amendment and domestic harmony
But, beloved, in this opportunity for the virtues’ exercise there are also other notable crowns, to be won by no dispersing abroad of granaries, by no disbursement of money, if wantonness is repelled, if drunkenness is abandoned, and the lusts of the flesh tamed by the laws of chastity: if hatreds pass into affection, if enmities be turned into peace, if meekness extinguishes wrath, if gentleness forgives wrongs, if in fine the conduct of master and of slaves is so well ordered that the rule of the one is milder, and the discipline of the other is more complete. It is by such observances then, dearly-beloved, that God’s mercy will be gained, the charge of sin wiped out, and the adorable Easter festival devoutly kept. And this the pious Emperors of the Roman world have long guarded with holy observance; for in honour of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection they bend their lofty power, and relaxing the severity of their decrees set free many of their prisoners: so that on the days when the world is saved by the Divine mercy, their clemency, which is modelled on the Heavenly goodness, may be zealously followed by us. Let Christian peoples then imitate their princes, and be incited to forbearance in their homes by these royal examples. For it is not right that private laws should be severer than public. Let faults be forgiven, let bonds be loosed, offences wiped out, designs of vengeance fall through, that the holy festival through the Divine and human grace may find all happy, all innocent: through our Lord Jesus Christ Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns God for endless ages of ages. Amen.
Leo concludes the sermon with a call to forgiveness and forebearance. Among the other good deeds and good habits that we strive to bring to flower during Lent, let us not forget that it is the merciful who will receive mercy and in forgiving others that we are forgiven.
Isn’t it awesome that Christians from an earlier era copied and handed on these sermons (and other writings for us)! I am spoiled by the availability of technology and it is so very difficult for me to imagine writing everything out by hand (versus the convenience of typing on a computer and easily making corrections). Perhaps the fact that these texts were carefully and lovingly passed down to us is, in a sense, a profound sermon. This Lent, I’ve been looking at “Saint Cyril of Jerusalem’s Lectures on the Christian Sacraments: The Procatechesis & the Five Mystagogical Catecheses” (from the third century). It’s fascinating how Cyril seems to have had an impact on our Holy Week liturgy.