Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Feast of St Gregory the Great

At Rome, the ordination as Pope of the incomparable man, Saint Gregory the Great; who, being compelled to undertake this burden, shone from the highest throne with rays of sanctity all the more brightly in the world. (The Roman Martyrology. The feast of St Gregory was moved in the new calendar from the day of his death, March 12, to September 3rd, the day of his ordination as Pope.)

The Ecstasy of St Gregory, by Peter Paul Rubens, 1608; originally commissioned for the Chiesa Nuova in Rome, now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Grenoble, France.
“Well is it said (to the holy preacher) ‘and the smell of thy garments is as the smell of incense.’ What is meant by these garments, if not holy works, by which the baseness of earlier evils is covered over, that it may not be seen? For hence is it written: Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (Apoc. 16, 15). But ‘incense’ is written to symbolize prayer, as it is written: Let my prayer rise as incense in thy sight (Psalm 140, 2). Therefore the holy soul in this world, as much as it can, performs good works, and doing good, by desire and holy intention stretches itself forth unto eternal things; and does nothing good, except with the intention that it may someday be able to reach the heavenly things which it loves. Well then is the smell of his garments said to be like that of incense, because in all of his works he prays, as he does the good things which he can, with the intention of reaching his goal.” - St Gregory the Great, Exposition of the Song of Songs, on verse 4, 11 

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