by St. Leo the Great
St. Leo the Great was the bishop of Rome during difficult times. He was an eminent scholar of Scripture and rhetoric. During an invasion by Attila the Hun, St. Leo met him outside the gates of Rome. After some short words, to everyone’s surprise, Attila turned and left. Three years later, during an invasion by Genseric the Vandal, St. Leo’s intercession again saved the Eternal City from destruction.
On this day during Lent, we are reading from the Ladder of Divine Ascent, and are reading the chapter “On Avarice,” so in light of that, we offer this admonition from St. Leo.
For the man who loves God it is sufficient to please the one he loves; and there is no greater recompense to be sought than the loving itself; for love is from God by the very fact that God himself is love.
The good and chaste soul is so happy to be filled with him that it desires to take delight in nothing else. For what the Lord says is very true:
Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
What is a man’s treasure but the heaping up of profits and the fruit of his toil? For as a man sows, so will he reap, and each man’s gain matches his toil; and where delight and enjoyment are found, there the heart’s desire is attached.
Now there are many kinds of wealth and a variety of grounds for rejoicing; every man’s treasure is that which he desires. If it is based on earthly ambitions, its acquisition makes men not blessed but wretched.
But those who enjoy the things that are above and eternal rather than earthly and perishable, possess an incorruptible, hidden store of which the prophet speaks:
Our treasure and salvation have come, wisdom and instruction and piety from the Lord: these are the treasures of justice.
Through these, with the help of God’s grace, even earthly possessions are transformed into heavenly blessings; it is a fact that many people use the wealth which is either rightfully left to them or otherwise acquired, as a tool of devotion.
By distributing what might be superfluous to support the poor, they are amassing imperishable riches, so that what they have discreetly given cannot be subject to loss. They have properly placed those riches where their heart is; it is a most blessed thing to work to increase such riches rather than to fear that they may pass away.