Thursday, February 10, 2005

The works of mercy

Dear friends,
at every moment the earth is full of the mercy of God,
and nature itself
is a lesson for all the faithful in the worship of God.

The heavens, the sea and all that is in them
bear witness to the goodness and omnipotence of their Creator,
and the marvellous beauty of the elements as they obey him
demands from the intelligent creation

a fitting expression of its gratitude.

But with the return of that season
marked out in a special way by the mystery of our redemption,
and of the days that lead up to the paschal feast,
we are summoned more urgently
to prepare ourselves by a purification of spirit….

Dear friends,
what the Christian should be doing at all times
should be done now with greater care and devotion,
so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be fulfilled,
not simply by abstinence from food
but above all by the renunciation of sin.

There is no more profitable practice
as a companion to holy and spiritual fasting
than that of almsgiving.

This embraces under the single name of mercy
many excellent works of devotion,
so that the good intentions of all the faithful
may be of equal value,
even where their means are not.

The love that we owe both God and man
is always free from any obstacle
that would prevent us from having a good intention….

The works of mercy are innumerable.

From a Sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great
(Office of the Readings)