Sept. 3: ST. GREGORY THE GREAT
Pope, Monk, Doctor of the Church
St. Gregory I was born on 540 AD (exact date unknown) from a very wealthy Roman family. His father, Gordianus was a senator then Prefect of Rome and his mother, Silvia, herself a saint, was also well-bred and educated Gregory in the faith. Gregory excelled in all fields: sciences, literature, grammar, rhetoric and law, later becoming a lawyer himself and then Prefect of Rome at such a young age of 31.
Having a great respect to monastic life, upon his father’s death and inheriting all the properties, Gregory converted the family villa into a monastery dedicated to the Apostle, St. Andrew and then rededicated after his death, San Gregorio Magno al Monte Celio. In due time, 6 other monasteries were built in Sicily on his inherited properties.
Ordained deacon by Pope Pelagius II, St. Gregory was appointed as papal legate or ambassador to the imperial court in Constantinople, a post he would hold till 585. His arrival in Rome was of great upheaval. The plague had reached the city, causing the death of Pope Pelagius II. Gregory was resolute upon his return to live a monastic life but five years after returning to his monastery, he was unanimously elected pope by the people, clergy and senate, being the first monk to become the Roman Pontiff.
He greatly influenced the life of the Church. Among his many achievements were:
- He unified the liturgy, modified the structure of the Mass, added the “Hanc igitur” in the Roman Canon or Eucharistic Prayer I.
- He also compiled the Gregorian chant named after him.
- Encouraged by his close friend, St. Leandro of Seville, whom he met in Constantinople, St. Gregory was a prolific writer and was credited to have initiated medieval spirituality. Among his famous works are: “Commentary on the Book of Job (Moralia on Job)”, “The Rule for Pastors”, “Dialogues”, and his “Sermons” on several Scriptural books (Ezekiel, the Gospels, 1Kings)
LOVE FOR THE POOR
- Gregory is known for his administrative system of charitable relief of the poor at Rome, most of whom are refugees from the Lombard invasions. He received many donations from wealthy families which he distributed to the poor.
- He also encouraged the clerics to seek and help out the needy, giving them food, especially.
- He ordered the revenue-generating properties of the Church to ship food products to Rome and distributed them freely as alms to the poor. To those who were too sick to get their portion, he sent monks to deliver them every morning their food. It was said that he would not dine until the poor were fed.
- He is credited for revitalizing the evangelization of non-Christians in northern Europe. One of Gregory’s most far reaching actions was the Gregorian mission which consisted in sending 40 missionaries to England, among which is St. Augustine of Canterbury who belonged to the Monastery of St. Andrew. It was a successful mission. From England, missionaries set out to evangelize Netherlands and Germany.
He died on March 12, 604 and according to Catholic Encyclopedia, he was declared saint immediately after his death by “popular acclamation”. He was declared “Doctor of the Church” by Pope Boniface VIII on September 20, 1295.
Dear friends, all these St. Gregory the Great did, despite of his poor health and the difficult political and social upheavals during his pontificate. Let us learn from his generous self-giving and service for God’s Church and all souls, especially those who are in need.
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei. CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
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