The Shepherd, November 2004
FROM THE FATHERS
“LET US REMEMBER that we owe love first to God, secondly to our neighbour, and that all our affections must be so regulated as not to draw us away from the worship of God or the benefiting our fellow slave. But how shall we worship God unless that which is pleasing to Him is also pleasing to us? For, if our will is His will, our weakness will receive strength from Him, from Whom the very will came; ‘for it is God,’ as the Apostle says, ‘who worketh in us both to will and to do for (His) good pleasure’ (Phil.2:13). And so a man will not be puffed up with pride, nor crushed with despair, if he uses the gifts which God gave to His glory, and withholds his inclinations from those things, which he knows will harm him. For in abstaining from malicious envy, from luxurious and dissolute living, from the perturbations of anger, from lust after vengeance, he will be made pure and holy by true fasting, and will be fed upon the pleasures of incorruptible delights, and so he will know how, by the spiritual use of his earthly riches, to transform them into heavenly treasures, not by hoarding up for himself what he has received, but by gaining a hundred-fold on what he gives. And hence we warn you, beloved, in fatherly affection, to make this winter fast fruitful to yourselves by bounteous alms, rejoicing that by you the Lord feeds and clothes His poor, to whom assuredly He could have given the possessions which He has bestowed on you, had He not in His unspeakable mercy wished to justify them by their patient labour, and you for your works of love. Let us therefore fast on Wednesday and Friday, and on Saturday keep Vigil with the most blessed Apostle Peter,* and he will deign to assist with his own prayers our supplications and fastings with alms.”
Saint Leo the Great, Pope of Rome, + 461 A.D.
* He mentions the Apostle’s intercession probably because he was preaching in St Peter’s Basilica, the Saint of the church aiding the congregation there - ed