Monday, August 18, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI reflects on St. Gregory's Pastoral Rule

[...] Intellectual humility is the primary rule for whoever seeks to penetrate the supranatural realities, starting with the sacred Book. Humility obviously does not exclude serious study, but to make it spiritually profitable, allowing one to truly enter into the profundity of the text, humility is indispensable. Only with this interior attitude can one listen and finally perceive the voice of God.

On the other hand, when it comes to the Word of God, understanding means nothing unless it leads to action. In the Homilies on Ezekiel can also be found that beautiful statement according to which "the preacher should dip his quill into the blood of his heart; this way, he will be able to reach the ear of his neighbor."

Reading his homilies, one can see that Gregory truly wrote with the blood of his heart and therefore speaks to us even today.

[...] The principal inspiration that links the various discourses can be summarized in the word "praedicator": Not only the minister of God, but even every Christian, has the task of making himself the 'preacher' of whatever he has experienced intimately in following the example of Christ who became man in order to bring the good news of salvation to all.

The horizon of such a commitment is eschatological: the expectation of the fulfillment of Christ in all things is a constant thought in Gregory the Great and ends up as the inspiring motive for his every thought and action. This, his incessant calls for vigilance and for commitment to good works.

[...] The great Pontiff, nonetheless, insists on the Pastor's duty to recognize daily his own poverty, so that pride may not render in vain, in the eyes of the Supreme Judge, the good that he has done.

Thus, the final chapter of the Rule is dedicated to humility: "When one is pleased at having achieved many virtues, it is good to reflect on one's insufficiencies and be humble: instead of considering the good one has achieved, one must consider that which one failed to achieve."

[... Gregory expressed a] profound conviction that humility should be the fundamental virtue of every bishop, and more so, of a Patriarch. Gregory had always remained a simple monk at heart and therefore was decisively opposed to grand titles. He wanted to be - and this was his expression - servus servorum Dei, servant of the servants of God.

This expression, which was coined by him, was not just a pious formula from his lips, but the true manifestation of the way he lived and acted. He was intimately struck by the humility of God, who in Christ, made himself our servant, who bathed us and washed our dirty feet. Thus he was convinced that a bishop, first of all, must imitate this humility of God and thus follow Christ.

His desire was really to live as a monk in permanent conversation with the Word of God, but for the love of God, he made himself the servant of everyone in a time full of tribulations and sufferings - he knew how to be the 'servant of the servants of God'. And because he was this, he is great and shows us the true measure of greatness. (From a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience 6/4/08, in which he spoke about the writings of Pope St. Gregory the Great, provided by Papa Ratzinger Forum)


Fred said...

"the preacher should dip his quill into the blood of his heart; this way, he will be able to reach the ear of his neighbor."

Suzanne said...

That one got to me, too!

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."