|Click to share on Facebook.|
Today being the feast day of Pope Saint Gregory the Great (ca. AD 540 - 604) whose papacy began on this date in AD 590, this quote seems a fitting reminder of this outstanding occupant of the cathedra of Rome. He was truly one of the greatest popes."Your manners have been so perverted by secular concerns, that, forgetting the whole path of the sacerdotal dignity that is yours, and all sense of heavenly fear, you study to accomplish what may please yourselves and not God."~Pope Saint Gregory the Great, to the bishops of Dalmatia
Gregory is often viewed as one of the last of the patristic Church fathers, and one of the first popes to exercise political power in central Italy the absence of Roman power in the region. He did not hesitate to use his authority as successor of St. Peter to enforce discipline on his brother bishops, as the quote above demonstrates. While this stern letter was written specifically for the bishops in the province of Dalmatia, across the Adriatic Sea from Italy (modern Croatia), Gregory's exhortation against undue attention to worldly concerns is perfectly valid advice for modern prelates, clergy and the laity as well.
Here is the quote in the context of the full letter:
Gregory to all the bishops through Dalmatia.
It behooved your Fraternity, having the eyes of the flesh closed out of regard to Divine judgment, to have omitted nothing that appertains to God and to a right inclination of mind, nor to have preferred the countenance of any man whatever to the uprightness of justice. But now that your manners have been so perverted by secular concerns, that, forgetting the whole path of the sacerdotal dignity that is yours, and all sense of heavenly fear, you study to accomplish what may please yourselves and not God, we have held it necessary to send you these specially strict written orders, whereby, with the authority of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, we enjoin that you presume not to lay hands on any one whatever in the city of Salona, so far as regards ordination to episcopacy, without our consent and permission; nor to ordain any one in the same city otherwise than as we have said.Taken from: The Epistles of Pope Gregory the Great, Book IV, Letter 10.
But if, either of your own accord, or under compulsion from any one whatever, you should presume or attempt to do anything contrary to this injunction, we shall decree you to be deprived of participation of the Lord's body and blood, that so your very handling of the business, or your very inclination to transgress our order, may cut you off from the sacred mysteries, and no one may be accounted a bishop whom you may ordain. For we wish no one to be rashly ordained whose life can be found fault with. And so, if the deacon Honoratus is shown to be unworthy, we desire that a report may be sent us of the life and manners of him who may be elected, that whatever is to be done in this matter we may allow to be carried out salubriously with our consent.
For we trust in Almighty God that, as far as in us lies, we may never suffer to be done what may damage our soul; never what may damage your Church. But, if the voluntary consent of all should so fix on one person that by the favor of God he may be proved worthy, and there should be no one to dissent from his being ordained, we wish him to be consecrated by you in this same church of Salona under the license granted in this present epistle; excepting notwithstanding the person of Maximus, about whom many evil reports have reached us: and, unless he desists from coveting the higher order, it remains, as I think, that after full enquiry, he should be deprived also of the very office which he now holds.