Creation is good, says St. Leo the Great, and we should praise the Creator for its beauties. But the world to come is far greater. Use the things of this world properly, but don’t let them capture all your attention.

Wake up and recognize the dignity of your nature! Remember that you were made in the image of God—which, although it was corrupted in Adam, was still re-molded in Christ.

Use the visible things of creation as they should be used—earth, sea, sky, air, springs, and rivers. Whatever is beautiful and wonderful in them, attribute that to the praise and glory of the Creator.

But don’t be ruled by the light in which birds and serpents, beasts and cattle, flies and worms delight. Keep the material light for your bodily senses, and with all your mental powers embrace the “true light that enlightens every man” that is “coming into the world” (John 1:9), of which the prophet says, “Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:5). For if “you are God’s temple” and “God’s Spirit dwells in you,” then what every one of the faithful has in his own heart is greater than what he marvels at in heaven.

And so, dear friends, I don’t tell you or advise you to despise God’s works, or to think there is anything against your faith in what the good God has made good. But use every kind of creature, and everything this world is equipped with, reasonably and moderately. For as the Apostle says, “the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” So because we are born for the present and reborn for the future, let us not give ourself up to transient goods, but to eternal ones.

–St. Leo the Great, Sermon 27, 6

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