st gregory the great


October 2, 2013 + "Thou shalt enter the tomb in abundance" [Job 5:26]

by St. Gregory the Great, Commentary on Job, from The Early Church Fathers Series, edited by John Morrehead, Routledge Taylor & Franscis Group: London and New York, p. 130.

Those who are striving to gain the highest point of perfection, when they yearn to take hold of the stronghold of contemplation, should first test themselves through exercise in the field of work, so that with the necessary care they might come to know whether they are doing anything wrong to their neighbours, whether they are bearing with calmness of mind what their neighbours are doing to them, and whether their mind is neither set free so as to be joyous when temporal goods are placed before it nor wounded with great sorrow when they are taken away; after this, they should consider carefully whether, when they return to themselves inwardly for a thorough investigation of spiritual things, they are not drawing with them the slightest shadows of bodily things; or whether, if it turns out that they have been drawn, they are able to drive them away with the hand of discretion; whether, in their yearning to see the infinite light, they repress all images of what is finite and whether, given that they are striving to attain something that is above themselves, they overcome that which they are. And so it is now said rightly "Thou shalt enter the tomb in abundance" [Job 5:26]. Yes, a perfect man enters the tomb in abundance because he first gathers together the works of an active life and then conceals completely from the world the capacity for feeling belonging to his flesh, which has died through contemplation. And so it fittingly goes on: Like as a sheaf of grain cometh in his season [Job 5:26]. For action comes at the beginning, and contemplation at the end. So it is necessary that whoever is perfect should first exercise the mind with virtues and then put it away in the barn of quiet.

August 7, 2013 + The Spiritual Director is to be Discerning in Silence and Profitable in Speech

St. Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, pp. 54-55

For just as reckless speaking leads someone into error, so indiscreet silence leaves in error those who might have been instructed. For often, reckless directors, who fear to lose human favor, are afraid to speak freely about what is right. And, according to the voice of the Truth, they fail to attend to the care of their flock as shepherds and act instead as mercenaries [John 10:12]. This is because they flee and hide themselves in silence whenever a wolf approaches. Thus, the Lord scolds them through the prophet, saying: "Dumb dogs, who cannot bark" [Is. 56:10]. Again he complains, saying: "You have not gone up against the enemy nor have you built a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle of the day of the Lord" [Ez. 13:5]. Indeed, to "go up against the enemy" is to oppose worldly powers with a free voice in the defense of the flock. And to "stand in battle on the day of the Lord" is to resist, our of love of justice, evil persons who oppose us. For if a shepherd fears to say what is right, what else is it but to turn his back in silence? But certainly, if he puts himself before the flock [so as to protect them], he "builds a wall for the house of Israel" against its enemies.

 

 

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Afterfeast of the Transfiguration of our Lord

Troparion, Tone 7

October 24, 2012 + “The Paths of Their Way Are Turned Aside" (Job 6:18)

A reflection on the passage: “The paths of their way are turned aside [Job 6:18].”
by St. Gregory the Great

from Gregory the Great, by John Morrhead, from “The Early Church Fathers” series. Routledge, 2005, pp. 89-91.

Everything which is turned aside is twisted back on itself. Now, there are some who undertake to withstand the sins which draw them astray with their whole strength, but when the critical moment of temptation arrives they do not remain firm in their purpose. For one person, puffed up with the perverse insolence of pride, when he considers that the rewards of humility are great, rises up against himself and, as it were, lays aside his inflated, swollen arrogance, and promises to display humility in the face of all insults. But on being suddenly struck by just one insulting word, he straightaway returns to his old pride, and he is brought back to his swollen headedness to such an extent that he completely forgets having aspired to the virtue of humility. Someone else, stirred by avarice, is panting to increase his possessions...

Someone else is kindled by flames of anger and is so headstrong that he hurls insults at his enemies... And so, when he is just able to exercise restraint after his abusive language, it is too late...