The Doctrine on Contemplation of St. Gregory the Great as Found in Three of His Sermons on Ezekiel

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Walsh, Mary Charles O.S.B.
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Catholicism , Classics , Gregory the Great
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At the close of his sermons on Ezekiel, St. Gregory grieves thus to his flock, “Let no one upbraid me .... if after this sermon I retire because, as you are all aware, our tribulations have increased,"|He then enumerates some of the woes which oppress him:|"On all sides we are surrounded with swords, on every hand we fear the impending danger of death. Some return to us, their hands lopped off; others are taken captive, still others are said to be slain. Now am I forced to be silent because my soul is weary of my life (Job x, I).|How like the sorrows of Pius XII were those of the fatherly-hearted Gregory, Daily news of the barbarous butchery of his spiritual children comes to the former as it did to the latter. This search into the contemplative writings of St. Gregory, the last of the Church Fathers, was made to discover what he taught In his sermons to the populace about higher prayer. The urgency of this study seems apparent now when humanity is again faced with the choice between God and chaos. The atomic age, like the age of barbaric invasions, must be one of morality or one of total destruction.|After presenting generally accepted ideas on mysticism and a chapter showing his own preparation for higher prayer, St. Gregory's doctrine on contemplation is set forth. This research has been restricted to three of the twenty-two homilies which he delivered on Ezekiel: the third of the first book and the second and fifth of the second book. This doctrine of prayer was given to a group of Christians such as one would find on any Sunday in our parish churches today. It is noteworthy that in these sermons Gregory presented the same lofty teaching to his parishioners as he gave to the monks and clergy in his Morals on the Book of Job. |A secondary purpose of this research was to discover in how far the later writers, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Teresa of Avila, were in conformity with St. Gregory's mystical doctrine. A third objective was to learn to what extent Gregory continued and developed the Benedictine tradition of liturgical prayer.
Creighton University
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