September 3, 2008

Gregory the Great

I discovered St. Gregory only recently. As has happened over and over in my Catholic life, after reading many modern authors, it was not until I read deeper into the tradition that I found something that made sense to me. In this case, in school I was made to read and learn various contemporary theologies and approaches to ministry, but when I finally read Gregory the Great's Book of Pastoral Rule I finally found a treatment of pastoral work that spoke to my real daily experience.

In his advice on "how the spiritual director should teach," Gregory uses the device of opposite pitfalls: "Those who do not speak enough and those who speak too much are to advised differently," or "those whose sins are minor but who commit them frequently, and those who avoid small sins but occasionally fall into grave ones should be advised differently." Using forty sets of opposites, Gregory sets out a lot of insightful advice for pastoral care. Here's one of my favorites:
The meek and the easily provoked should be advised differently. For sometimes, when the meek are in a position of authority, they suffer from idleness, which is akin to sloth. And all too often, their excessive leniency softens the strictness of vigilance unnecessarily. On the other hand, when the easily provoked take positions of leadership, when the regress into a mental frenzy brought on by impulsive anger, they confuse the lives of their subordinates and destroy the stillness of tranquility. (127)

There are plenty of priests in both categories!

2 comments:

ben in denver said...

I would like to request the favor of your prayers today for my son Gregory, since this is his nameday.

He is 5 and suffers from asthma, so a special prayer to his patron for healthy lungs would be great.

Thanks Father!

Brother Charles said...

I prayed for him at St. Gregory's Mass last night, Ben. I know how it is; I grew up with that trouble too.