Sermons

By Jane Patricia Freeland; Agnes Josephine Conway et al. | Go to book overview

MARTYRDOM OF THE MACCABEES

It is not known exactly when this sermon was composed. Most likely, however, Leo delivered it on 1 August (the Feast of the Maccabees) any year between 446 and 461. Leo expresses gratitude that his flock appreciates this feast and that they especially appreciate the mother of the Maccabees ( Serm. 84B.1). He cautions them not to become complacent in the absence of government persecution, but to probe the depths of the heart, where the devil's persecutors (i.e., vices) constantly lurk ( Serm. 84B.2). With regard to these temptations which attack everyone (and these are enumerated), Leo explains: "When you see that you are waging a battle on many fronts, then must you also, in imitation of the martyrs, pursue a many-sided victory" ( Serm. 84B.2). In urging practice of the virtues which counteract vices, he employs yet another one of his aphoristic "one-liners": "Things that have been heard become tiresome if they are not taken up to be imitated" ( Serm. 84B.2).


Sermon 84B

1 August ( 446-461?)

WE GIVE THANKS, dearly beloved, to the Lord our God that, even if I should be silent, your assembly here shows how great is the solemnity of this day. You have come together with such single-minded enthusiasm and such a devout spirit that the meeting itself bears witness to the splendor of the feast, and rightly so, even if the sermon did not mention it. We have a twofold cause for joy, in that we both celebrate the Church's birthday and rejoice in the suffering of martyrs. It is proper for the Church to exult in their martyrdom--and not inappropriate--for it is adorned by their example.

You have learned the reason for today's feast very clearly, dearly beloved, from the reading of the sacred story.1. No, you

____________________
1.
Cf. 2 Mc 7.

-362-

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