Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Monday, September 04, 2006

Saint Gregory the Great

For a man of immense intelligence and who was born into a noble and holy family, Gregory did all he could to avoid both the power and the glory which the Church would afford him.

At the heart of Gregory was a simple but complex man. A man of simple tastes who longed to live a contemplative life of prayer as a Monk, yet glory shadowed his steps. It is a well known truth that the most capable men are those who do all they can to avoid power and ostentation.

Gregory not only tried to avoid it he virtually ran away from it. Still like a whisper on the breeze it caught up with him, this man of simple tastes.

Gregory was born around the year 540 while the Church was still in its birth pangs and heresies still lured the unaware. Whenever the Catholic Church has been threatened God produces Great Sons of the Church not to save it but to enrich and make known what is already there. So it is that Gregory stepped into a time of history that was not only tumultuous, but lusty in both ideas and manners.

As the Roman Empire fell and the robust and brutal barbarians brought in their own beliefs which was not based on Christian Doctrine but on the heresy of Arianism. Into this arena came Gregory a man both gentle and inflexible in matters of Divine Truth. A man who would persuade the masses to follow him and the Teachings of the One True Church, yet he insisted on forcible conversions to the Catholic Church. Gregory was a diplomat who respected the Jewish Traditions and yet was intransigent with those who held pagan beliefs. Perhaps Gregory had seen the bitters tears shed by those who suffered under the governing of the Lombards.

In order to combat these heresies Gregory wanted much to evangelize what was then known as the Angles(English). With the Pope's permission Gregory set sail to do just that, unfortunately there were others who strongly objected to losing this great man of fire from the Church and so Gregory was recalled back to Rome.

These were difficult and fraught years for Gregory, he had clashed with the Byzantines, and his mission to Constantinople was not seen as an enormous success. Now he could not follow his heart and evangelize the faith to the Angles, but as always Gregory was an obedient son of the Church and so with filial love he returned to Rome.

The great city though would endure its own agony as floods ravaged many areas bringing forth disease and pestilence. Rome had come to resemble a land of corpses rather than the land of the living. During this terrible upheaval and tragic episode in Roman history the Pope also succumbed and died from the aftermath of the great floods and the plague which was running rampant throughout Rome and other area's. This left the land without a shepherd but not for long.

Upon hearing the rumor that he would become the next Pope, Gregory with great trepidation tried to flee such a heavy task. This was not done in a spirit of craven fear but of a longing to remain as he was a simple man who's life revolved around prayer and mortifications. A man who's own soul was pure and self controlled who did not seek after vain glories or have need of politics. Gregory was to learn though what he longed for and what God ordained to be were two different things. God won!

Gregory was Consecrated as Pope in 590. The gentle breeze that had touched Gregory with greatness had become a hurricane and so the people turned to Pope Gregory to lead them through this momentous time in history.

Pope Gregory would do just this with such aplomb that greatness would attach itself to this simple man of faith and his awesome intellect. To read more about Pope Gregory's reign as Pope click here.
New Advent

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

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