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St. Gregory the Great [PDF]

by Paulist Press
My March pick for my Ancient Mentors reading series was Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care. Gregory's is considered early Medieval, so I chose him as an influential figure of the period.F.H. Dudden (1905) says that Gregory's maxims in Pastoral Care were what "made the bishops who made modern nations." The ideal Gregory upheld was for centuries the ideal of the West's clergy.

Pastoral Care (or Regula Pastoralis) was originally written in 590 CE as an apology for Gregory's wish to escape the office of pope after the death of Pelagius II. Similar works had already been written by Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, and especially Nazianzus' work on pastoral care was influential for Gregory's life and work. Structurally, the book is divided into four parts. First, Gregory presents the difficulties of pastoral ministry and the office of shepherd. Second, he discusses the importance and necessity of the inner and outer life of the pastor for the work of ministry. Third, in Gregory's longest section he advises on how the ministry of the Word is to vary depending on audience—your teaching should be context-appropriate. Fourth, Gregory highlights the importance of always remembering and recognizing your infirmities so that you will not become conceited in the pastorate.

Overall, I'm happy I read the book. That said, it wasn't the most mind-blowing read ever. What intrigued me most (while in many places bored me to death) was Gregory's attention to the various struggles believer's face in the Christian life and their need to have tailored, specific ministry according to their needs. Gregory is not a great exegete. You'll find his interpretation of passages strained and wanting, e.g. when discussing the inner and outer life of the ministry Gregory makes multiple allegorical interpretations of the garments and ministry of the Aaronic priesthood; Aaron's breastplate was symbolic of purity of thought, the pomegranates unity of faith. He was a man of his time, but I appreciated the effort to try to arrive at a biblical model of New Testament pastoral ministry using the breadth of Scripture.

Part 1:
-the government of souls is the art of arts
-don't foul the water of the sheep by your crooked steps
-don't busy yourself with external matters and neglect and forget yourself (and vice versa)
-Isaiah & Jeremiah give picture of one who laudably desires the office and one driven to it by compulsion. There are commendable desires and dangers in both.
-loved chapter 9: The mind of those who crave pre-eminence, for the most part flatters itself with imaginary promises of performing good works—basically, the mind lies to itself about itself and makes believe it loves good work when actually it does not and wishes for mundane glory.
-chap 11—not all Levites could offer at Temple—only those who were ceremonial set apart and without blemish.
Part 2: Life of a Pastor
-what fascinated me about this passage was Gregory's desire to reflect on ministry through the lens of the OT priesthood. I think something like this could be done well if it was seen through a redemptive-historial lens of Christ's person and work as the High Priest and Chief Shepherd.
-Purity of thought
-exemplary conduct
-discreet in silence/profitable in speech: don't be a dumb dog, unable to bark
-Be a neighbor to all: ascend in thought and descend in service
-be a comrade to good and stern with evil
-Dont be so busy with external that you neglect internal, and vice versa (e.g. Moses and Jethro)—Study AND Serve
-don't be zealous to please men: "For that man is an enemy to his Redeemer who on the strength of the good works he performs, desires to be loved by the Church, rather than by Him. Indeed, a servant is guilty of adulterous thought, if he craves to please the eyes of the bride when the bridegroom sends gifts to her by him."
-don't put cushions under every elbow
-seek to be loved in order to be listened to (1 Cor 10:33; Gal 1:10)
Part 3:
-Not all teaching is suitable for everyone
-Like a harpist, all one doctrine, but not same exhortation
-Gregory lists all different types of people—reminds me of William Perkins, The Art of Prophesying
-be harsher with men; gentle with women
-severe with youth; gentle with elderly
-admonish the wise to stop knowing what they know
-reprove insolent by showing what they've done has been ill-done
-How to admonish the sick: The sick are to be admonished to consider what great health of the heart is bestowed by bodily affliction, for it recalls the mind to a knowledge of itself and renews the memory of our infirmity, which health commonly disregards.
-gospel-driven patience: To preserve the virtue of patience, the sick are to be admonished ever to bear in mind how great were the evils endured constantly by our Redeemer at the hands of those whome He had created, how many horrible insults of reproaches He endured, how many blows in the face He received at the hands of scoffers, while He was daily snatching the souls of captives from the power of the ancient Enemy; that while cleansing us from the power of salvation, He did not screen His face from the spitting of perfidious men, that He silently endured the scourging to free by His mediation from eternal torments, that He endured the buffeting to give us everlasting honors among the choirs of angels, that while saving us from being pierced by our sins, He did not shrink from offering His head to thorns; that He took the bitter gall in His thirst in order to inebriate us with everlasting sweetness, that when mockingly adored, He held his peace and adored in our behalf the Father, though equal to Him in the Godhead, and that He who was the life passed to death that He might prepare life for those who were dead. Why, then, is it considered hard that a man should endure stripes from God for his evil-doing, if God endured so great evil in requital for His own good deeds? Or what man is there of sane mind who is ungrateful for being himself smitten, when He who lived here without sin did not depart hence without a scourging?
-The pride of the Devil became, therefore, the occasion of our perdition, and the humility of God proved to be the pledge of our redemption. For our Enemy, created like all other things, wished to appear superior to all, but our Redeemer, remaining great above all things, deigned to become little among all. Let the humble, therefore, be told that in abasing themselves, they rise to the likeness of God.
-don't love the pilgrimage over the home-country (to those who are well off and wealthy)
-Gregory says that marriage is primarily for procreation and not pleasure, so you shouldnt have too much sex.
-the preacher should make himself heard by deeds more than words (wrong).
Part 4:
-the consciousness of virtue is a pitfall for the soul.
-basically, after you preach remind yourself of all your failings so you don't become proud.
[PDF] St. Gregory the Great download

Book info

eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
PublisherPaulist Press
File size2.2 Mb
GanreNon Fiction
Release date 01.06.1994
Pages count288
Book rating4.51 (42 votes)
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1 comment

1. Persia Emily | 03.08.2017 17:33

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Thank you! Great book!

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