Pope Benedict held his weekly General Audience this Wednesday in St. Peter's Square. As he pondered what makes St. Gregory the Great truly deserving of his title, the Holy Father said that his humility is the true measure of his greatness.
Today's general audience marks the second week in a row that the Pope has devoted his address to Gregory the Great. The Holy Father devoted his remarks today to the saint's literary legacy and his goal of constantly presenting the Church's teaching on the ways that lead to the contemplation of God.
"His ‘Homilies on Ezekiel,’ and his ‘Moral Commentary on Job’ present a model of spiritual life which integrates prayer and action. In his Homilies on the Gospels Saint Gregory explained how the preacher's own spiritual experience of Christ should form the basis of his exhortations. The Pastoral Rule describes the ideal Bishop as a teacher and guide who leads by example and adapts his preaching to the specific background of those he addresses," Benedict XVI said.
The Pope also mentioned the great saint's “Dialogues,” a collection of narratives that describe the lives of saints who were contemporaries of Gregory the Great.
"The ‘Dialogues,’ a work full of rich theological and spiritual insights, describe the lives of the saints of Gregory's epoch. In all things he insists on intellectual humility as a key to the meaning of Scripture, and proposes to Pastors and the faithful alike, the continual practice of lectio divina in order to better understand and follow God's will."
The Holy Father touched upon the excellent manner in which Pope St. Gregory carried out the duties of the papal office as well.
"In his heart", the Holy Father added, "Gregory continued to be a simple monk and for that reason opposed the use of grand titles. He wished to be 'servus servorum Dei' (servant of the servants of God). ... Intimately inspired by the humility of God Who in Christ became our servant, ... he was convinced that a bishop must imitate such humility."
"Pope Gregory defended the prerogatives of the See of Rome, but with humility as the servant of the servants of God, and respected the rights of other Pastors, especially the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria. May the life and teaching of Saint Gregory guide and inspire us on our way to the joyous contemplation of God in eternity!"
Although Gregory's wish had been "to live as a monk in permanent communion with the Word of God," Benedict XVI explained that, "for His love he became the servant of everyone in a time full of tribulation and suffering; he became the servant of the servants. This is why he was 'Great' and shows us the measure of true greatness."
In his remarks to the faithful in Polish, the Holy Father recalled a more recent reformer, Blessed John XXIII, who passed away 45 years ago this week.
Pope John XXIII, Benedict noted, convened the Second Vatican Council, which began the renewal of the Church, and the reform of the Church's structures and liturgy. During the audience, the Pope also prayed that the renewal will bear fruits in all the faithful and in the whole Church in the Third Millennium.
After the catechesis, Pope Benedict greeted pilgrims in many languages, including English.
"I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today, including the groups from England, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada and the United States.
I extend special greetings to the group of Episcopalian pilgrims from Jerusalem, and to the many student groups present at this audience. May God bless you all!"