Sunday, December 11, 2022

Gaudete Sunday 2022

From a sermon of Pope St Leo the Great (440-61) on the Ember days of December, read today in the Divine Office. Note that the fasting of the Ember days and the station of Ember Saturday are already well-established customs, well over a century before the time of St Gregory the Great, and our oldest copies of the associated liturgical texts.

We preach to you, most beloved, that which both the order of the season, and the custom of our devotion urges upon us, to wit, that the fast of the tenth month is to be celebrated, by which, in thanks for all the fruits received over the year, an offering of continence is made most worthily to God, their Giver. For what can be more effective than fasting? by the observation of which we come close to God, and by resisting the devil, overcome the allure of the vices. For fasting hath ever been the food of virtue, from abstinence proceed pure thoughts, reasonable desires, and healthier counsels, and by voluntary mortifications the flesh dieth to its lusts, and the spirit is renewed in might.
The interior of the ancient basilica of St Peter, where St Leo would have preached this sermon, used as a setting for the proclamation of the edict of Milan in a fresco by the students of Raphael. This painting represent in the building in much better condition than the badly dilapidated state it actually was in at the time, the early 1520s. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons, cropped.)
But since fasting is not the only means whereby is acquired health for our souls, let us add our fasting to the mercies shown to the poor. Let us spend in good deeds what we take away from indulgence. Let the abstinence of him that fasteth become the refreshment of the poor. Let us be intent upon the defense of the widow, the service of the orphan, the consolation of the mourning, and the peace of those at variance. Let the stranger be taken in, the oppressed helped, the naked clothed, the sick fostered; so that whoever among us from these just labors offer to God, the author of all good things, a sacrifice of such duty, may merit to receive from Him the reward of the heavenly kingdom. Therefore let us fast on Wednesday and Friday, and likewise on Saturday, let us keep the vigil with blessed Peter, and by the help of his merits, may we be able to obtain what we ask, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth unto all ages. Amen.
Our friend Jacob has just published his video about today’s station at St Peter’s basilica on his YouTube channel, Crux Stationalis.

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