Thursday, September 3, 2009


“St. Gregory the Great”
by Carlo Saraceni, ca. 1610


Biographical Information about St. Gregory the Great

Readings for the Memorial of St. Gregory the Great [1][2]

2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5-7

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us,
we are not discouraged.
Rather, we have renounced shameful, hidden things;
not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God,
but by the open declaration of the truth
we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.
For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord,
and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.
For God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"
has shone in our hearts to bring to light
the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.

But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
Commentary on
2 Cor 4:1-2, 5-7

St. Paul speaks of his own ministry to the people of Corinth. Using his actions as an example, he makes the case for repentance (“…we have renounced shameful, hidden things”) and against false teachers (“…not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God”). Paul then uses the “light in the darkness” metaphor. He seems to be thinking of
Genesis 1:3 and presenting his apostolic ministry as a new creation. In his final statement he makes it clear that it is for God’s glory in Christ that he proclaims this message and that the messenger himself is the humble “earthen vessel.”

CCC: 2 Cor 4:6 298, 2583; 2 Cor 4:7 1420
Psalm 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8, 10

R. (3) Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Commentary on
Ps 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8, 10

Announce his salvation, day after day.” This song of praise to the Lord invites all humanity to participate in God’s salvation. “This psalm has numerous verbal and thematic contacts with
Isaiah ch. 40-55, as does Psalm 98. Another version of the psalm is 1 Chronicles 16:23-33.” [3]
CCC: Ps 96:2 2143
Luke 22:24-30

An argument broke out among the Apostles
about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.
Jesus said to them,
"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them
and those in authority over them are addressed as 'Benefactors';
but among you it shall not be so.
Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest,
and the leader as the servant.
For who is greater:
the one seated at table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one seated at table?
I am among you as the one who serves.
It is you who have stood by me in my trials;
and I confer a kingdom on you,
just as my Father has conferred one on me,
that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom;
and you will sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Commentary on Lk 22:24-30

This argument among the disciples is timed ironically in that it occurs in the upper room during the feast of the last supper, following the Lord’s announcement that one of his closest friends would betray him. Jesus proceeds to provide the disciples with straightforward teaching about the servant role they were to exemplify. He then promises all of them that, because they will have stood by him, they will also be with him in heaven.

CCC: Lk 22:26-27 894; Lk 22:27 1570; Lk 22:28-30 787; Lk 22:29-30 551; Lk 22:30 765

If a person molds a vessel, they to a greater or lesser degree mold the contents of that vessel. St. Gregory the Great (who probably would have objected to the title “the Great”) was one who molded the Church. The influence he had on the Church’s structure and worship were so great that had he not assumed the papacy, we would probably not recognize our current structure and forms as being Catholic.

Like the parent of a child, Pope St. Gregory taught the deeply spiritual practices of the religious order from which he came to the Church as a whole through a series of reforms. It is no accident that the ancient music of Gregorian Chant still echoes in the hallowed halls of churches around the world.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the disciples “the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.” In the very spirit of this verse, St. Gregory the Great served Christ in his Church and left us a lasting legacy in which we might frame our praise to God. It is only right that to such a one a great feast be celebrated for his work to accomplish God’s plan has benefited us all.


[1] 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.
[2] The picture is “St. Gregory the Great” by Carlo Saraceni, ca. 1610
[3] See NAB footnote on Psalm 96

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