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St. Leo the Great - The Beatitudes
How Pursuing Purity of Heart and Peacemaking Unite Us to Christ
The Path to Beholding God's Glory
St. Leo begins by affirming that the pure of heart are blessed because they will be able to see God clearly in Heaven. Those with impure hearts and souls defiled by sin, however, would not be able to endure such a vision. Therefore, we must dispel worldly vanities and cleanse our inner selves of wickedness, so that our souls may peacefully behold God's glory.
The saint then explains that the peacemakers - those who bring true peace by reconciling people to God and each other - will be called sons of God. This is not a superficial peace, but one rooted in doing God's will. Loving God fully and loving others selflessly are key.
True peace, he states, cannot come from partnerships based on evil or vice. Loving the world and loving God cannot coexist. To join the company of the sons of God, one must separate from the corrupt generation and keep God first in their heart. Those anxious to preserve unity and harmony through faithfully doing God's will on earth are the peacemakers who will be co-heirs with Christ.
In conclusion, St. Leo says these holy peacemakers will be rewarded for their virtue with peace undisturbed - safe from further temptations and trials. They will eternally rest in the peace of God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
From a sermon on the Beatitudes by Saint Leo the Great
Whoever loves your law will have abundant peace
The blessedness of seeing God is justly promised to the pure of heart. For the eye that is unclean would not be able to see the brightness of the true light, and what would be happiness to clean minds would be a torment to those that are defiled. Therefore, let the mists of worldly vanities be dispelled, and the inner eye be cleansed of all the filth of wickedness, so that the soul’s gaze may feast serenely upon the great vision of God.
It is to the attainment of this goal that the next words refer: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. This blessedness, dearly beloved, does not derive from any casual agreement or from any and every kind of harmony, but it pertains to what the Apostle says: Be at peace before the Lord, and to the words of the prophet: Those who love your law shall enjoy abundant peace; for them it is no stumbling block. Even the most intimate bonds of friendship and the closest affinity of minds cannot truly lay claim to this peace if they are not in agreement with the will of God. Alliances based on evil desires, covenants of crime and pacts of vice – all lie outside the scope of this peace. Love of the world cannot be reconciled with love of God, and the man who does not separate himself from the children of this generation cannot join the company of the sons of God. But those who keep God ever in their hearts, and are anxious to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, never dissent from the eternal law as they speak the prayer of faith: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
These then are the peacemakers; they are bound together in holy harmony and are rightly given the heavenly title of sons of God, co-heirs with Christ. And this is the reward they will receive for their love of God and neighbor: when their struggle with all temptation is finally over, there will be no further adversities to suffer or scandal to fear; but they will rest in the peace of God undisturbed, through our Lord who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
Let Us Pray
O Lord, we know that the pure of heart shall see you face to face in heaven.
Give us the grace to cleanse our hearts of all that keeps us from you. Remove the mists of worldly vanities and wicked desires that cloud our vision. Purify our inner selves, that we may gaze upon your glory with serene and undefiled eyes.
Make us instruments of your peace, O God. Help us to reconcile people to you and to one another through lives rooted in your will. May we love you above all else, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Keep us from partnerships and pacts born of evil. Separate us from the corrupt generation, that we may join the company of your saintly sons and daughters. Preserve in us the unity of spirit and bond of your peace.
We pray for the day when every temptation and trial is past, and we may rest undisturbed in your heavenly peace, together with all your angels and saints. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.