Holy Scripture is presented to the mind's eye like a mirror in which
the appearance of our inner being can be seen.
In this mirror we can see both the ugliness and the beauty of our soul.
We can tell what progress we are making or whether we are making any progress
Holy Scripture recounts the good deeds of the saints and encourages
the hearts of the weak to imitate them. In recording the prowess of the
saints, Scripture also underlines our weakness in the face of the onslaught
of the vices. But its words ensure that the more the soul sees of the triumphs
of so many heroes of the faith, the less it is alarmed in the midst of
its own battle.
Sometimes, however, Holy Scripture does not only record the victories
of the saints but also mentions their defeats, so that we may see from
their failures what we ought to be afraid of, besides learning from their
triumphs what we ought to aim at. For example, Job is described in the
Bible as being exalted by temptation, whereas David is represented as humiliated
By this means, our hopes may be nourished by the valor of people in
the past, while because of their weakness we may gird on the protection
The victories of the saints give our spirits wings through the joy they
cause; their failures give us pause through fear.
From Scripture the soul of the reader learns the confidence of hope
and the humility of fear. Thanks to the weight of the fear, it does not
have the temerity to be proud; but this fear does not cast it into utter
despair, because the soul is fortified in the strength of hope by the examples
Great (540-604 AD), Commentary on the Book of Job, 2, 1 (SC32, p.180)
from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, Cistercian Publications,
Kalamazoo, Michigan - Spencer, Massachusetts,1994]
the Great (540-604 A.D.) was born in Rome into a wealthy noble Roman
family with close connections to the church. On his father's death, he
converted his family villa into a monastery dedicated to the apostle Saint
Andrew. He was ordained a priest, and became one of the pope's seven deacons.
He also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople.
He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope
by the clergy and people of Rome.
Gregory was content to be
a monk, but he willingly served the Church in other ways when asked. He
sacrificed his own preferences in many ways, especially when he was called
to be Bishop of Rome. Once he was called to public service, Gregory gave
his considerable energies completely to this work. He was the first of
the popes to come from a monastic background.
He was direct and firm. He
removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services,
emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care
for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned
about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery.Gregory
lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult
relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed
the Lombard king.
His book, Pastoral Care,
on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his
death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were
preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching,
Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners.
Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine, Ambrose,
and Jerome, as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church. He is
also known as St. Gregory the Dialogist in Eastern Orthodoxy because of