Gregory, Grit and Greatness: Weekly Message for 09-03-2019

Dear Friends in Christ, 

The Church celebrates one of the “greats” today – Pope Gregory I. He reigned from 590 to 604 and is counted among the four outstanding Latin Fathers of the Church (along with Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome). 

Gregory the Great would have preferred to remain as a monk and enjoy a life of contemplation, but he felt duty-bound to take on the papacy after the clergy and people of Rome elected him. 

His would be an extraordinary papacy. His extensive alms for the poor, his prolific writings, his efforts to build Church unity, his outreach to convert pagans, his efforts at liturgical reform – all this and more was packed into a 13-year pontificate. 

Gregory’s accomplishments didn’t come amid an era of monastic calm, however. He faced a sea of troubles: schism and heresy, threats of invasions, lax discipline among the clergy, as well as his own physical ailments (indigestion, fever, gout). 

A lesson we could take away from the life of Gregory is that greatness can grow among the thorniest difficulties. With grit and the grace of God, the work of preaching the Gospel goes on. The poor are helped. The Church perdures. The flame of hope is kept burning. 

That is worth keeping in mind at a time when the moral and cultural landscape around us looks more than a bit scorched. 

The trials of this age can be opportunities for each of us to let God do great things through us, if only we give ourselves over to Christ. 

For inspiration you might want to turn to another papal “great”: Be Not Afraid: A Retreat Guide on St. John Paul II. 

And glimpse what your grit with God’s grace could do. 

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor

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