Monday, May 25, 2009


“St. Gregory VII”
from a stained glass window in
St. Meinard Abby in St.
Meinard, Indiana, USA
MAY 25


Biographical Information about Saint Gregory VII

Readings for the Memorial of St. Gregory VII [1]

Readings and Commentary:

Acts 20:17-18a, 28-32, 36

From Miletus Paul had the presbyters
of the Church at Ephesus summoned.
When they came to him, he addressed them,
"Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock
of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers,
in which you tend the Church of God
that he acquired with his own Blood.
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you,
and they will not spare the flock.
And from your own group,
some will come forward perverting the truth
to draw the disciples away after them.
So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day,
I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.
And now I commend you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up
and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated."

When he had finished speaking
he knelt down and prayed with them all.
Commentary on
Acts 20:17-18a, 28-32, 36

The steady and lively growth of Christianity has started to spark significant resistance from multiple sources. St. Paul now feels compelled to return to Jerusalem but wants to make sure he has left a final message with the leaders in the region of Ephesus. Here he begins his discourse reminding them of his fidelity to the message he received from Jesus.

St. Paul is speaking to the presbyters that have been appointed over the various communities around Ephesus (a very large city at the time). Having explained that he is returning to Jerusalem, he does not believe he will see them again. Now the Apostle tells them to be on guard against false prophets and teachers and against members of their own communities who will spread dissension. He reminds them, finally, to keep focused on the Lord’s commands and to remain charitable.

CCC: Acts 20:32 798; Acts 20:36 2636
Psalm 110: 1, 2, 3, 4

R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The LORD said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
"Rule in the midst of your enemies."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

"Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
"You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
Commentary on
Ps 110: 1, 2, 3, 4

This passage from Psalm 110 supports the Hebrews reading that quotes it today. The messianic reference in the first verse gives a clear indication of Christ’s eternal nature and ultimate destiny.

CCC: Ps 110 447; Ps 110:1 659; Ps 110:4 1537
Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Commentary on
Matthew 16:13-19

St. Matthew’s story of how Jesus asked about what people were saying about him has a profound impact on the Church. Here, when challenged by Jesus with the question, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon answers, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” The second title is not present in St. Mark’s version of this encounter. It adds an understanding that Jesus is not just the Messiah, but also the Son of God.

Given this response, Jesus confers upon Simon a new name “Kephas” which comes from the root Aramaic word Kepa or “Rock”. When translated into Greek it came out Petros and from there to Peter. The name, however, becomes the foundation for the Church and Peter, as a consequence of this exchange is given Christ’s authority, an authority that is passed down through Papal Succession to our Pope today.

CCC: Mt 16-18 1969; Mt 16:16-23 440; Mt 16:16 424, 442; Mt 16:17 153, 442; Mt 16:18-19 881; Mt 16:18 424, 442, 552, 586, 869; Mt 16:19 553, 1444

St. Gregory VII is one of the great successors of St. Peter, the “Rock” upon which Christ built his Church. His story demonstrates the sameness of the history of the faithful. Like Christ himself, his friends deserted him; he underwent persecution for the sake of justice. Above all he remained steadfast to the Church he lead and the Law of Christ whose service he undertook.

For us we hear the words “But who do you say that I am?” and, seeing the example of Pope St. Gregory, we understand that the question is not simply one of belief, but one that demands actions upon those beliefs.

For those actions to remain in concert with the Church, we must look to our own understanding of what the Church teaches. While these teachings always have their foundations in the Bible, the great Doctors of the Church have prayed about them, struggled with them, and come to understand them in the light of Christ’s example. It is this understanding of how Christ revealed himself and how that revelation is to be expressed in the world that we must delve into if we are to be faithful to the Christ and his Church.

Today we give special thanks to Pope St. Gregory for his heroic stand against secular powers that would have wielded the power of the faith to their own ends, forever tarnishing its image and destroying the truth it represents. We pledge ourselves to follow his example and remain steadfast in our beliefs in the face of all challenges.


[1] The picture used is “St. Gregory VII” from a stained glass window in St. Meinard Abby in St. Meinard, Indiana, USA
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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