Gregory, 540-604. Doctor of Hymnology, Feast Sept. 3rd.
rather unfair to title Gregory, Doctor of Hymnology. Father Christopher Rengers, OFM, Cap., listed in the doctoral sources, named Gregory: "The Greatest of the Great." However, many
catholics remember Gregorian chant. They identify with him through
hymns, singing and liturgical music. St Cecilia is also one of the church's early martrys and the patronness of music, musicians and liturgical music. The Doctor of the Church, St Ephraem, is also acclaimed as one the key founders of liturgical music. Their links are below:
Gregory was multi-talented in
numerous ways. He served as Pope, Bishop of Rome, pastor, papal
nuncio, abbot, monk, deacon, missionary, Roman senator, and Prefect
of Rome-the highest office in the country. He was gifted, a superb
administrator, and perhaps the best Rome ever had, and certainly among
He was one of the first popes to send out
missionaries to other countries. In fact, Gregory, himself, was a
missionary to England. As pope, he sent missionaries to France,
Spain and Africa.
His mother was St. Silvia. Gregory's father
sent him to the best teachers. All that he received from his parents
and God, he gave back wholeheartedly. Thus we see an example of
riches bestowed, received, remembered, shared and given back to the
"Giver of all good gifts."
This Pope gave up his family,
employment, home, and property. He even gave up his own personal
calling as a monk- for a higher calling-service to the church. He
was awesome in his universal care and concern for the members of the
church, and all of God's children.
Are you at times impatient
with others? Do you have intense pain and impatience with yourself
in bearing that pain? Perhaps Gregory can alleviate your pain and
impatience as he has done with others. Read about Gregory and pray
to God with him.
According to tradition, Gregory suffered
from various diseases. We can identify with him, now, with our pain, even though
he is in heaven. Others have called upon him to help them in
their need. The greater your impatience toward others, or yourself,
and the greater your need, than that is all the more reasons to call
upon Gregory the Great. The greater your devotion to the saints, the greater will
be your results. Other people have received
consolations from Gregory through their prayers to him. They have
also received messages. It is not too common that God permits
heavenly visions from the saints but it happens if you are devote
and plead your case and causes to them, trusting exclusively only in
the will of God in the answer.
St Gregory was tremendously
influential in stopping a pestilence through a holy procession. He
will be even more influential in heaven towards you when you pray to
God through holy devotions and petitions. But, we must beg and
entreat him earnestly. Read about St. Seraphina's life in Secular Saints listed in the sources and understand how Gregory helped her.
She had a great devotion to him. This devotion was perhaps greater
than any creature that ever lived?
He compared bishops of
the church to physicians. His book on Pastoral Care and many of his
other writings are invaluable aids for leaders of the church. This
book gained popularity, not only among pastors but also, among kings
and emperors of his day and later generations. The book is most
practical and he admonished the taciturn and the talkative most
Because of the chaotic times in which he lived in
the early medieval ages, Gregory was a strong enforcer of
discipline. He would be the first to admit that the greatest gift to
God is the surrender of one's own wants, wishes, and whims. "To
renounce what one has is a minor thing; but to renounce what one is,
that is asking a lot". This is taken from a homily of St. Gregory.
God moved him around in various positions. However, he had
to cooperate by being flexible, humble, open, and docile. This is not
always easy. Only those who live in union with God really know how
God touches them. It is not always a visible sign. Much trust,
surrender, and obedience is necessary. Christ is the model for
Christians including popes. They too have to be obedient. Christ was
obedient for thirty years to his mother and father and submitted to
Gregory and Leo are the only popes to become doctors of
the church. This amazing fact should help us realize that the doctor
category is reserved for only the most exceptional wise and holy
personages. It has nothing to do with brains or bravery. It is not
for extraordinary leaders but graced and gifted leaders who are
imprisoned with the Spirit of the living God aiming to lead with
prudence, holy example, and concern for God's creatures.
is very easy to criticize the head of the catholic church. With
innumerable problems and enormous responsibilities the Vatican
duties will easily crush anyone unless God protects and guards the
Pope. Gregory did not have issues as celibacy, woman's ordination,
and ecumenism. The concerns of primacy, pluralism, inculturation, or
decentralization did not exist. New times challenge the Pope with
subsidiarity, collegiality, and counterculturalism. Gregory did not
have to face problems such as population control, abortion, and
capital punishment. Yet, he had equally tremendous
During his lifetime, brigands, pestilence, and
famine besieged Rome. Huns, Goths, and Lombards plundered the city.
Fear, alarm, and despair gripped Rome. Its population plummeted from
a million to 15,000. The soul of the "Eternal City" had experienced
decadence and depravity from corruption and bloodshed. One can not
possibly imagine how terrible the situation Gregory inherited when
he became pope. His predecessor, Pelagius II, had died from a great
pestilence. To help understand the tremendous and nearly impossible
challenges that Gregory faced, read the link on The Life of St
Gregory the Great by Sister Goddard Clark, MICM, located near the
end of this section.
The church was leaderless from a human
perspective. Gregory at this time was a holy monk and he certainly
didn't want to become the pope. However, his holiness and leadership
as abbot and his strong previous leadership role in the country were
well known. The people wanted a strong, holy leader. They wanted to
have him as their pope. Gregory panicked. He hid himself outside the
city in order not to be found. However, he was providentially
discovered and afterwards consecrated and enthroned as Pope by the
people and the clergy.
Our pontiff faced his challenges
confidently trusting that God would lead him to do his best guiding
the people of God. His spirit of concern is a quality that can
inspire us to help others. Pray to Gregory that your
responsibilities and duties, small or large, be achieved through the
same Spirit that enabled Gregory to accomplish his mission for the
church and its members.
As leader of the church, he made laws
governing its members. Gregory shared and spread the faith of the
church because of his belief. He, it is noted from other Christian
authors, was always humble. His wealthy parents and his upbringing
allowed him to share not only his faith but also his own personal
possessions. Before he joined the monastery he sold all his own
property and used the money to build six monasteries in Sicily and
one in Rome. Gregory continued his generosity and other kind deeds
to the poor throughout his life after he consecrated his life to
He removed unworthy priests from office. He gave monies
to ransom prisoners. He cared for persecuted Jews and victims of
plague and famine. He was an outstanding reformer, writer, preacher,
and enforcer of discipline. Gregory showed us how to imitate Jesus'
words more by deeds done than by preaching or talking about it. He
exhorts preachers to proclaim in their deeds all that they are about
Gregory the Great is noted for the many books he
wrote especially on the liturgy of the mass and the office - the
official prayer of the church for its priests. He is the Patron of
choirboys and singers. For that reason he obviously contributed to
the singing aspects. Having also lived as a monk, he apparently was
involved in chant or hymns as that is most common in the monastery.
The Gregorican University and other landmarks in Rome and throughout
Christendom are named after him. For a splendid discovering of Rome,
her popes, her churches, its history and legends read: A Catholic
Guide to Rome by Frank J. Korn.
Not without reason is St.
Gregory, Doctor of the Church, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the
Roman Province, patron of many, monk, missionary and pastor of Rome,
called the Great. He did great things for God and humankind with
great courage and fortitude. The challenges and difficulties we
experience in any office, position, or job are frequently God's way
of urging us to turn to the Creator for support and strength.
Gregory allowed God to bless him with great gifts to share with
God's church and its members especially the advancement and spread
of that faith. He is a model for us to be assured that God will do
the same for us with our own difficulties. However, we need to
cooperate, surrender, and be docile to the movements of
The church flourished under Gregory in spite of a
tumultuous period when Lombards were attacking Rome and strife was
rampant. The Western Church and the Eastern Church were having many
problems and controversies. He held the church together though his
great courage and surrender to God's will for him throughout his
many callings and challenges. Despite our hardships, conflicts, and
confusion, God extends comfort, resolutions, and insight into our
challenges, anguishes, and problems.
I once read that at least
thirty popes have been martyred for the faith. The periodical The
Pope Speaks is an excellent resource. Only by treasuring our
catholic heritage and showing deep respect for our Holy Father, and
all civil or religious authority for that matter, can we begin to
fathom God's church. Over twelve hundred papal speeches and catholic
church documents are available through your computer at the link below:
Vatican, The Holy See
Adoremus Bulletin is another liturgy music site. See link below
V, No.3-May 1999 cites ten useful Catholic Web sites. A more recent issue lists nearly 30 sites on their link page.
delightful resource to consider reading is Crossing the Threshold of
Hope. This book written by the Pope in 1994 was a best seller.
Perhaps it will become a classic because of its perennial message of
hope. There are powerful messages on the subject of hope everywhere. We see them in life everyday,
on our TV screens, and in the arts and movies. Three
films that I enjoyed on the subject of hope are The Mission, Braveheart, and The
Shawshank Redemption. Hope is for all especially for those who think
that hope is impossible for them.
Those who cling to hope
despite all the odds will win in the end. Hope is always in the
heart of the living even where there is deep pain and hurt. Hope
speaks of the future and is always optimistic. Hope can be found
everywhere except in hell. Those who live in hell abandon all
With Gregory and Leo, our Pope wants to inspire the
virtue of hope. Crossing into hope for some is easy. For others it
is a gigantic step. It might be compared to what the Astronaut Neil Armstrong said
when he took his first step on the moon: "One small step for man and
one giant step for mankind".
Some of us are born and bred in
hope. They, it would appear, are blessed. Others enter the world
quite the opposite: disabled, in poverty, unwanted, and with parents
lacking solid gospel values. It would appear, this group are not
blessed. However, this is not the case by our holy God-the best
providential Provider of all. Only our hope in our faith will enable
us to believe that God is perfect. Thus we see that hope is a gift
that enables us to understand God and cling to the Creator. This
will happen despite contrary evidences and contradictions that
surround us. We are sometimes tempted and challenged to deny the
marvelous truth that God infinitely cares for all with immense
Crossing the Threshold might be compared to a journey
across the universe. Hope is deeper and nobler than the cosmos.
Therefore, it does not matter when or how you start. What's
important is that you actually take the first step in hope. You
must, indeed, start not in theory but in deed- in reality! Hope is
such a pure theological virtue that it is supremely pleasing and
precious in the "Eyes of God". It is almost as if God were looking
into a mirror and seeing himself when we possess hope and exercise
this extraordinary theological virtue.
captures God. God is stunned and mesmerized by all resplendent and
boundless beauty. Entering the virtue of hope is truly traveling
into God boundlessly. It is immersion and supernatural intoxication.
True hope will make you heady, quench all your appetites and plunge
you in joy, quiet ecstasy and peace. Therefore, the important truth
of hope is to cross over and that means travel or exercise. Life is
a spiritual journey. We exercise our mind when we hope. We hope when
we surrender. We hope when we abandon our ways to God.
Cars offers a pleasing ad that states life is a journey, enjoy the
ride. We sometimes travel by car. Hope for Christians is the same:
start, exercise and enjoy hope because the road ahead may be long,
bumpy and involve delays and pains. The threshold might be compared
to the vestibule or foyer of a huge and glorious palace. It is the
antechamber to Heaven. Once the door is open, you are in. It is just
a matter of time before you can browse and taste and see the other
delights and features that have been prepared by the King and Queen
who have invited you.
Hope is the entrance into Heaven. That
is why the church places emphases on hope. It unlocks the heavenly
kingdom. Hope will challenge you with crosses sooner or later. Hope
is camouflaged, celestial consumption. Indulge in it because it will
ravish and make you relish all the crosses you encounter. Genuine
hope is total and unconditional abandonment, trust, and surrender to
the Spirit of Love who is the source of hope and happiness both now
and throughout eternity. Read the Holy Father's book in the
anticipation and hope that the Holy Spirit will enable you to cross
more deeply into the threshold of hope and enjoy life's
God bestows abundant blessings on us through multiple
and often unknown sources. The popes, especially St Gregory, and St
Leo, and many more past leaders of the church, are known sources and
blessings. The writings of our present pope and other gifted and
talented, virtuous writers are a fine example particularly in the
area of spiritual hope. Christianity is an encounter with a real,
dynamic divine person: Jesus. It's not only laws, commandments, and
obligations that empower us. These help but the real power is from
above with a real, powerful Person. And we have three of Them. One
for our spirit, One for our humanity and One for our Father through
providential design. Within our Godhead, we have a tremendous
mystery with three distinct Persons and yet only One holy
By exercising faith, hope and charity, as Gregory, daily
we take on the mind and attitude of Christ. By being humble and
obedient to those God designates over us through divine providence,
we will be guided through God's spirit and the church. Hope is
relying on heavenly help. Faith is believing in heavenly help.
Charity is enjoying heavenly help and living it. God uses everything
to help all creatures and creation. For all creatures, from the least
significant to the person who sits on the chair of Peter, heavenly
help is a guiding hand on our shoulders. It supports, sustains and
guides each member of the church on our journey despite the pain,
hardship and severe limitations we all encounter.
among all the doctors, has guided the church and each of its members
by giving us a holy and humble example to look up to and follow with
great expectations and hope. Great will be our joy and destiny when
we open ourselves to be moved by God's Holy Spirit. As we reflect on
Gregory's life we will understand and see how God can place and use
us in our individual calling today. We will also grasp what other
roles God may be calling us in the future. The more we are open to
God's leadership, the more God will lead us and bestow on us divine
favors. We will be amazed in ways impossible to imagine or hope to
achieve. Hope affords us divine strength. The inspiration that
Gregory has given to the church and its members of old is ours
today. It is anew, alive and active when we exercise our faith, hope
and love to all as Gregory did so generously and continually
throughout his life in humble service to all.
popes from history had to be immersed in mundane and worldly
affairs, those who best guided the church had their hearts in heaven
as their mind focused on the earth. Popes, past and present, have
great authority and power. Gregory, who is often quoted by the
Angelic Doctor, St Thomas Aquinas, wielded great power because he
never attributed it to himself. Power is an attribute of God,
according to Gregory, that is generally administered by holy spirits
called angels. The writings of Gregory especially from his "Forty
Gospel Homilies" are packed with power and beauty regarding these
celestial intelligences. The essential nature of both angels and
humans according to our Doctor Pope, allow us to know God. Both,
angels and people, have supernatural intelligence. Angels have only
intelligence, no body. We have intelligence and a body.
Gregory the Great believed that each person is destined to join one
of the ranks of the nine choirs of angels, not as an angel but as
God's children by cooperation with his grace and perseverance.
Listen and observe this most consoling truth that he describes of
those human beings that could eventually share the ranks of the
Seraphim (top tier of angels). I quote this from Janice T. Connell's
enchanting book, Angel Power, which is taken from Gregory's Gospel
Homilies already quoted above.
Some(people) are set on fire
by supernatural contemplation, and are filled with eager desire for
their Creator alone. They no longer long for anything in this world.
They are nourished by love for eternity alone; they thrust aside all
earthly things; their hearts transcend every temporal thing; they
love, they are on fire, they find rest in this fire; loving sets
them on fire, and they enkindle others by their speech: those they
touch with their words they instantly set on fire with love for God.
What then should I call these people whose heart, which have been
turned into fire, are shining and burning, but Seraphim?
enlighten the heart's eyes with regard to things on high and purify
them of the rust of vices by tearful compunction. Where do these who
burn so brightly with love for their Creator receive their calling's
portion except among the number of the Seraphim?
light, we can see the power of Gregory's words. They are incredible,
provocative, and a lesson for us to know and share. According to
Connell's book and Gregory's message, we share in that same power.
Listen to some of her words. "The more we pray, the more we are able
to love. Angel power is a pure gift of God's Love. In prayer we
access Angel Power. Those who access Angel Power experience God
serving us sunshine to warm us. Those who access Angel Power see
God's Smiling Face in the crystal clear lake that bears the fishes
to feed our nations. Those who access Angel Power understand that
God is fashioning answers to the disease, pollution, and war that
plague the nations of the earth as he knits each tiny baby in the
womb of a cooperating mother."
Sure the Pope wields power but
every Christians has the power to be as powerful, influential and
far reaching as the great Gregory. Everyone who is hungry for power
and love ought to explore reading this humble and great teacher of
Perhaps it was because of Gregory's faith in God
and God's creatures including the angels that God favored him with
help from above. Therefore, it was not necessarily because he was
pope, but due to the devotion and prayers of God's people and his
faith, that God favored him with a vision of St Michael the
Archangel, the leader of the Angels, during one of his devotional
processions. This event is commemorated even today in a place in
Rome called Castel Sant' Angelo. There you will see a huge statue of
Another Pope at another time in church history
composed this beautiful and powerful prayer to Holy Michael. This
prayer can never be said enough for strength, consolation and
Holy Michael the Archangel, defend us in the
battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of
the Devil. Rebuke him, oh God, we humbly pray and do thou O
Prince of the heavenly host drive into Hell, Satan, and all his
angels who roam the earth seeking the ruin of souls.
can be sure that Gregory also had a devotion to his own guardian
angel that Jesus mentioned in the Gospel. This Guarding Angel prayer
is a classic.
Angel of God
My guardian dear
whom God's love
Commits me here.
Ever this day
Be at my
To light and guard
To rule and
Perhaps we should not think about Gregory
as "The Great" or as the Pope. That can turn us off or intimidate
us. The office of Pope happened to be his during the stop on his
journey to God. Gregory had many roles and in each he identifies
with each of us. The poor, inconspicuous, the sick, the powerful,
the rich, the clergy, the diseased, the missionaries, the
contemplative and the secular were duties he engaged in. We might
recall that Gregory was a civil statesman of ancient Rome first. He
listened, he prayed and God showed him the way. The Almighty and his
angels will do no less for us according to the writings of Gregory.
God's power will also be ours as it is with the Pope, his church and
members in addition to all of God's angels. What is required from us
is to humbly pray and petition God that we become obedient to the
Almighty's omnipotent will.
Gregory the Great considered the
Lord's mother the greatest of all creatures. The most blessed and
ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, can be called by this name,
"mountain". Yes, she was a mountain, who by the dignity of her
election has completely surpassed the height of every elect
Gregory, although he was the pope, found it normal
to write about apparition stories. Without considering whether this
story is true or not, the faithful during Gregory's time
considered it most ordinary to experience the presence of the Virgin from
the other side. The pope found it normal to talk about it. Devotions
to Mary and the saints are to be considered praiseworthy, justified
We can be assured that the same Spirit that
guided Gregory, guides all those who encounter Jesus Christ. Another
pope, in particular, that I want to mention, who lived in my
lifetime and who is recognized as a "Blessed" today, September 3rd,
2000 AD is good Blessed John XXIII. God used John as he used Gregory
to call and open the Second Vatican Council. This event ushered in
immense reform and renewal. It marked the theme of a universal call
to holiness for all God's people.
Links associated with Gregory:
The below web site contains comprehensive resources on our church, faith, the bible, saints, writings, apologetics, evangelization, family issues, links, and many pertinent services. This superior and highly organized web site (see Table of Content) is a most fascinating site with beautiful prayers, devotions, and really too much to enumerate. A truly universal catholic site.
Monastery of Christ in the desert
link is extensive regarding his letters:
link has beautiful music:
Francis Koerber, Composer, Music Ministry Director and Ministries related to Sacred Music. His sites and contributions can be heard and seen on the following sites that include: Requiem of the Nations, Requiem Aeternum and Mass of the Unborn-for reconciliaton and healing:
A site that offers unique Gregorian Chant CDs : Marian Hymns, Vespers, Matins, Benediction Hymns, Kyriale, Mass Propers, Divine Office, etc. They are beautiful, professionally edited, and not available elsewhere. Contains lyrics (and English translations) to many famous Chant pieces, free Chant downloads, and more content is being added on a daily basis! See link below:
Another beautiful site with sacred music.
music ministry plus:
I have read and quote that: "The universal church in its general revision of the Roman Missal in 1969, essentially retracted the assertion Pope Gregory the Great made in a sermon in 591: that she whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John called Mary (of Bethany), we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark." That was how the church viewed Mary Magdalen then...But Mary Magdalen's voice is being heard more and more now.
St. Gregory the Great: An Introduction - Early Church Father & Doctor of the Church - A ministry of Dr. Marcellino D' Ambrosio>
Tossed by Waves and Storms: Gregory the Great on Contemplation In a Word of Action by Edward C. Sellner, PhD was published in Spiritual Life , A Journal of Contemporary Spiritual in its Winter 2004 edition. This is a Catholic Quarterly listed in the Doctoral Sources and is published in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter by the Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
This will be included on this site eventually and is a succinct 16 pages summary of Gregory and his detailed struggle in balancing prayer and action during his life, closing with his great leadership as pope in one of the most turbulent times in the history of the Church. The writerís pithy, yet scholarly, article summarizes an all encompassing and an exciting read and insight into the real St Gregory. He reveals with great clarity how he was moved and directed into the amazing leadership of the Church. Through prayer and action, Gregory, who as the first, monk-pope and the first pope-doctor in elevation, grounded and won for the Church, innumerable achievements and spiritual accolades. This balancing of prayer and action, despite incredible physical and spiritual storms that the Church and the times were experiencing, will show how Gegory kept his heart and spirit immerse in love, and fortify with Godís courage through the delicate juggling of prayer and action. It allowed him to accomplish all that Godís wanted him to do with Jesusí own sacred mind and spirit as his dear son despite the many pains and sorrows that is always inevitable in life and death. It will gain for you insight on how you too can do the same as Gregory, through trials, crosses and tests. It will also comfort all of God's children with his mercy, peace and intimate friendship. Prayer and action will always move us by God's spirit and gentle love the more we humbly ourselves with prayer and humility and act good toward others and our responsibilities as Gregory did daily.