Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pastoral Care by St. Gregory the Great

O My Soul:

If the Rule of St. Benedict was written to guide monks in their spiritual disciplines, this book (originally entitled the Rule of St. Gregory) was written to guide pastors in the care for the souls of a secular parish community.

What do I like about this wonderful four part addition to my library:

1. An entire section, Part 3 of 4, addresses how to teach and admonish about forty different personality types. This is the heart of the book and the reason it is a useful manual in the care of souls. Here is an pertinent excerpt for the readers of this blog:

How to admonish the happy and the sad. The happy are to be admonished one way, the sad in another. Thus to the happy are to be displayed the sad things that accompany punishment, but to the sad, the glad promises of the Kingdom. The happy should learn by severe warnings what to fear, the sad should be told of the rewards to which they may look forward. It is to the former that it is said: Woe to you that now laugh, for you shall weep; but the sad should be told the same Master's teaching: I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man shall take from you.

Some men, however, become happy or sad, not owing to circumstances but to temperament. These are to be told that certain defects are connected with certain temperaments, that the happy are not far from lechery and the sad not far from anger. Hence each one must consider not only what he supports as part of his temperament, but also what worse things tend to press on him close at hand; otherwise, by not fighting against what he has to put up with, he may yield to the evil from which he thinks he is immune.

2. This text is Gregory's explanation as to why he should not be ordained.

The office of pastor is extremely difficult and should not be entered by just anyone.Part 1 addresses the difference in those who seek the office and those who should be in the office but refuse for various reasons. Part 2 addresses the life of the pastor. Part 4 of 4 addresses how the pastor, when he has done everything required, should return to himself, to prevent his life or preaching from making him proud.

3. I also learned that this text was commonly placed in the hands of newly ordained pastors in the Western church from the 6th to 19th centuries.

This is a lost treasure. But...

4. You can get this book for free!

It is public domain at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and available in several formats. Pick the one that fits you best.

If you want the physical text you have two options: Possibly buy the entire set of The Early Church Father (but remember they are all available online as public domain at CCEL) or get the single text of Pastoral Care by St. Gregory the Great

Hope in Christ,
God Bless You &


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