that John Dryden, one of the greatest of the crop of late 17th century writers actually composed a Life of St. Francis Xavier and, it is reputed in the intro a life of St. Ignatius. Haven't read 'em so I don't have any idea how "fair" they might be, but it came as news to me.
Saint's Lives and Writing: March 2005 Archives
from "Sermon XL. On Lent, II." St. Leo the Great
V. And Still Further It Should Lead to Personal Amendment and Domestic Harmony.
But, beloved, in this opportunity for the virtues' exercise there are also other notable crowns, to be won by no dispersing abroad of granaries, by no disbursement of money, if wantonness is repelled, if drunkenness is abandoned, and the lusts of the flesh tamed by the laws of chastity: if hatreds pass into affection, if enmities be turned into peace, if meekness extinguishes wrath, if gentleness forgives wrongs, if in fine the conduct of master and of slaves is so well ordered that the rule of the one is milder, and the discipline of the other is more complete. It is by such observances then, dearly-beloved, that God's mercy will be gained, the charge of sin wiped out, and the adorable Easter festival devoutly kept. And this the pious Emperors of the Roman world have long guarded with holy observance; for in honour of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection they bend their lofty power, and relaxing the severity of their decrees set free many of their prisoners: so that on the clays when the world is saved by the Divine mercy, their clemency, which is modelled on the Heavenly goodness, may be zealously followed by us. Let Christian peoples then imitate their princes, and be incited to forbearance in their homes by these royal examples. For it is not right that private laws should be severer than public. Let faults be forgiven, let bonds be loosed offences wiped out, designs of vengeance fall through, that the holy festival through the Divine and human grace may find all happy, all innocent: through our Lord Jesus Christ Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth God for endless ages of ages. Amen.
Taming the self. What a concept. Abandoning what I want in favor of what another needs--what a strange new line of thought! This Christianity must be a very odd faith indeed if it asks us to look to the good of others before ourselves.
from "Sermon XXXIX--On Lent, I"
St. Leo the Great
II. Use Lent to Vanquish the Enemy, and Be Thus Preparing for Eastertide.
Accordingly, dearly-beloved, that we may be able to overcome all our enemies, let us seek Divine aid by the observance of the heavenly bidding, knowing that we cannot otherwise prevail against our adversaries, unless we prevail against our own selves. For we have many encounters with our own selves: the flesh desires one thing against the spirit, and the spirit another thing against the flesh. And in this disagreement, if the desires of the body be stronger, the mind will disgracefully lose its proper dignity, and it will be most disastrous for that to serve which ought to have ruled. But if the mind, being subject to its Ruler, and delighting in gifts from above, shall have trampled under foot the allurements of earthly pleasure, and shall not have allowed sin to reign in its mortal body, reason will maintain a well-ordered supremacy, and its strongholds no strategy of spiritual wickednesses will cast down: because man has then only true peace and true freedom when the flesh is ruled by the judgment of the mind, and the mind is directed by the will of God. And although this state of preparedness, dearly-beloved, should always be maintained that our ever-watchful foes may be overcome by unceasing diligence, yet now it must be the more anxiously sought for and the more zealously cultivated when the designs of our subtle foes themselves are conducted with keener craft than ever. For knowing that the most hollowed days of Lent are now at hand, in the keeping of which all past slothfulnesses are chastised, all negligences alerted for, they direct all the force of their spite on this one thing, that they who intend to celebrate the Lord's holy Passover may be found unclean in some matter, and that cause of offence may arise where propitiation ought to have been obtained.
What may be most helpful, and most a cause for thought and repentence, is the idea that if we cannot order ourselves and we cannot conquer self, we cannot hope to withstand any great trial. Lent asks for little sacrifices that in the age of indulgence seem monumental. It seems that most people cannot wait for Lent to end so that they may resume their former ways. But I have to admit to being a little sad at the ending of Lent because during this time we are all trying and working hard toward the goal. Afterwards, it seems, the tide of energy and intent is dissipated; every step toward holiness is dogged by the mire around my feet. In Lent, I am borne forward by the efforts of all of those trying to will one thing. Afterwards, in the "joyous" time of Easter, I find all of my efforts ineffectual, I slump back into my former mode--perhaps a little improved, but not sufficiently to be doing God's will as my heart inclines me. So, I hold fast to the fact that there remain two full weeks in the Holy Season (as of today) to improve my ability to resist self and go with God. Perhaps for part of that time, I will pray rather for the success of others and thus open my heart more fully to what God has in store. Keep moving forward! In this holy year of the Eucharist, God has great treasures in store for those who endure and deny self.
The following most likely comes from the Sermons of St. Leo the Great, although it is rather difficult to be certain given the site I was using. It comes from Series II Volume XII of the Church Fathers.
from "Sermon XLII. On Lent, IV"
St. Leo the Great
IV. The Perverse Turn Even Their Fasting into Sin.
This adversary's wiles then let us beware of, not only in the enticements of the palate, but also in our purpose of abstinence. For he who knew how to bring death upon mankind by means of food, knows also how to harm us through our very fasting, and using the Manichaeans as his tools, as he once drove men to take what was forbidden, so in the opposite direction he prompts them to avoid what is allowed. It is indeed a helpful observance, which accustoms one to scanty diet, and checks the appetite for dainties: but woe to the dogmatizing of those whose very fasting is turned to sin. For they condemn the creature's nature to the Creator's injury, and maintain that they are defiled by eating those things of which they contend the devil, not God, is the author: although absolutely nothing that exists is evil, nor is anything in nature included in the actually bad. For the good Creator made all things good and the Maker of the universe is one, "Who made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them." Of which whatever is granted to man for food and drink,' is holy and clean after its kind. But if it is taken with immoderate greed, it is the excess that disgraces the eaters and drinkers, not the nature of the food or drink that defiles them. "For all things," as the Apostle says, "are clean to the clean. But to the defiled and unbelieving nothing is clean, but their mind and conscience is defiled."
This is of particular interest to those who would argue the evil of material things. Don't think there's many of us about, but a few hard-line protestants and some renegade members of various Catholic camps.