***The following post was written by the now Fr. Dylan Schrader, it was written for the Jefferson City Seminarians’ blog, which has been migrated here and taken down, since all have either been ordained or left seminary.***
Today is the memorial of Pope St Leo the Great, who in the 5th century worked tirelessly to defend the Church against the errors of that day (e.g., Manichaeism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism) and to promote a closer bond of unity between the bishops and Rome. Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of Peter and Leo, has the same concerns and is deeply committed to Christian unity.
The foundation of the Church on Peter (Mt 16:18) teaches us that there is only one Church, not many “churches.” The disunity among Christians is not by the design of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as we work to promote unity among Christians, we must not seek only a superficial sense of agreement, a certain “false irenism” as Pius XII put it, wherein we merely tolerate or get along with one another. Rather, the only way for Christians to become unified is by turning to Jesus Christ through the Church. In the office of the Holy Father, then, we find that solid foundation against which the gates of Hell shall not prevail. The Church is truly our objective standard, “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).
Priests, according to Pastores dabo vobis, must be promoters of communion and artisans of communion, though these phrases are usually rendered in English as “men of communion.” In other words they share in the work of the Holy Spirit, “governing all things firmly and gently” (Wis 8:1).
If the gates of Hell have prevailed in any part of our own lives, then, this is a wound against the Church and against our task of promoting unity. We ourselves must turn back to our standard, and, like St Leo, put aside our own interests for the sake of the Church.
The above is the substance of a homily that I gave to the college seminarians this morning.