Thursday, September 22, 2011

Historical Church Writings #8: Gregory the Great

Today is Historical Church Writing Thursday. Each Thursday will feature the writings of the church fathers, reformation fathers or other church writings. Today's Historical Church Writing is from Gregory the Great:
     Now, as often happens, those who covet preeminence, seeking support for their own cupidity, take advantage of the Apostle's statement when he says: "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." Yet, while praising the desire, the Apostle forthwith qualifies his praise by adding a reason for fear, promptly adding, as he does: "But it behoveth a bishop to be blameless." When he proceeds with an enumeration of the necessary virtues, he explains what this blamelessness is. He, therefore, approves the desire, but warns these people by his precept, as though he plainly said: "I praise what you seek, but acquaint yourselves first with what you are seeking, lest by neglecting to take the measure of your own fitness, you become the more blameworthy and detestable, in that you hasten to be seen by all on the pinnacle of honour." The great master in the art of ruling urges subjects on by approving of their desire, but deters them by fear, in order that he may restrain his hearers from pride, and by praising the office sought, may dispose them for the kind of life required....
     Wherefore, that man gives testimony against himself that he is not desiring the office of a bishop, if he seeks the glory of that honour, but not the ministry of a good work. For a man not only fails completely to love the office, but he is ignorant of it, if, yearning for supreme rule, he feasts on the subjection of others in the hidden reveries of his thought, is glad to hear his own praises, feels his heart surge with honour, and rejoices in the abundance of his affluence. It is, therefore, worldly gain that he seeks under the guise of that kind of honour, whereby worldly gain should have been destroyed, and when the mind thinks to grasp the highest state of humility in order to cherish its own pride, it changes the intrinsic nature of what was exteriorly desired.
     -- Gregory the Great

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

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