22nd Week Thursday, 9-3-20, Year A, Memorial-St. Gregory, Pope and Doctor
Readings: 1st – 2Cor 4:1-2, 5-7, Gospel – Lk 22:24-30
St. Gregory – Pope & Doctor of the Church
St. Gregory was born around the year 540 in Rome to a wealthy family. His great-grandfather was the 54th Pope, Felix III, and reined from 526 to 530.
St. Gregory was well educated and excelled in his studies. He also excelled in Law. He became the Prefect of Rome (City Administrator) at the age of 33, but eventually denounced this title and role in lieu of pursuing the promptings of God to become His servant in the religious life. St. Gregory soon became a monk and entered the Order of St. Benedict, becoming a Benedictine and lived the monastic life which he loved.
Pope Pelagius II chose St. Gregory to serve as ambassador to the imperial court in Constantinople not long into his religious career. At age 50 he became the 64th Pope and reigned for over 13 years. He was the first Pope to formally employ the titles, ServusServorum Dei (Servants of the Servants of God) and Pontifex Maximus (Chief Bishop).
St. Gregory is most known for his efforts in music, especially for cantus planus or plainchants, most notable know as the “Gregorian Chant.”
He wrote many works, letters, and documents and was instrumental in reforming and rewriting the Mass Liturgy, and the order as we know it today. He is also known to be one of the first Popes to send missionaries to pagan England to convert that nation to Christianity.
St. Gregory died in 604 and is buried at St. Peter’s Basilica.
He is one of the four great Doctors of the Church and is the Patron Saint of musicians, students, and teachers.
St. Gregory was a humble Pope. He preferred the monastic life and served the poor at every turn. He was quite generous and donated much of the riches given to the church to the poor. He made it very clear to those who worked under him that their duty was to serve the poor. He ordered his priests to go out into the streets to find and care for the poor. If any of them refused to do so, they were replaced. St. Gregory would not eat until his priests returned from the streets having handed out all their food to the poor.
It is said that during the famine of 590, he ordered the Church’s assets to be sold and donated to the poor. Instead of selling the land’s produce, which the Church controlled, he donated it all to the poor. He also made it a point to always dine with a dozen or so poor people at every meal.
In today’s readings, St. Gregory epitomizes what St. Paul writes about in his letter, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.”
St. Gregory lived this by his very actions and examples throughout life.
St. Gregory also is a shining example of what Jesus was talking about in Luke’s Gospel where
He says, “Rather, let the greatest among you be the youngest, and the leader as the servant.” That is why St. Gregory felt so strongly about assigning the title, “Servu Servorum Dei,” Servants of the Servants of God. This title is still in use today by Popes, especially when writing Bulls (decrees).
In today’s world, we can learn a thing or two from St. Gregory and how he loved his life. We must remember that we are really called by God, though the teachings of Jesus Christ, to be a servant to each other, not only helping them in this life, but to come to understand Jesus and his saving Gospel for the next.