This week the Church in the West remembers Gregory the Great (Gregory the Dialogist if you are Orthodox). Gregory was the Bishop of Rome during a time of great trouble. He was a great man who found himself in a position of power, although he did not want it. He was a monk who sought to live out his days in quite prayer. When he was elected Pope in 590 he laid aside his own desires and took of the office. His love for christ and his church was renown winning him the title, "the last good Pope" by John Calvin in his institutes, and resulting in his canonization immediately following his death.
Here are the things you need to know about Gregory:
- He negotiated a peace with the Lombards, who had besieged Rome. To this day no one knows how.
- He helped bring a great deal of power to the Papacy
- He was a monk at heart
- His four volume Dialogues are an important source for Church history.
- He is responsible for many liturgical reforms, some of which are still used today
- He was NOT behind "Gregorian Chant" which bears his name. The association came 200 years after his death when a new form of chant appropriated his name in a propaganda campaign attempting to fabricate a historical connection.
Finally here is a word of Wisdom from Gregory the Great:
"Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die."