|St. Gregory the Great, |
by Bicci di Lorenzo.
Such was the case of Saul, who after cultivating the merit of humility, later became swollen with pride because of his temporal authority. For his humility he was preferred, for his pride he was rejected, as the Lord attests, saying: “When you were little in your own sight, did I not make you the head of the tribes of Israel?” [1 Sam 15.17] He had previously seen himself to be of little consequence, but after he received temporal authority, he began to think of himself as greater than everyone else. In a wonderful way, when he was small to himself, he was great to the Lord; but when he thought of himself as great, he became small to the Lord. For often when a soul is inflated because of the authority it holds over the laity, it becomes corrupted and moved to pride by the allure of power. In truth, one controls this power well if he knows how both to temper and to assert it. For he controls this power well if he knows how to use to gain a mastery over sin and also knows how to mingle with others as equals. For the human mind is subject to pride even when it is not propped up by a position of authority. How much more, then, does it exalt itself when it is combined with temporal power? But he dispenses his power over the laity rightly if he is careful to take what is useful and reject what is tempting and also if he uses it to realize his equality with others and put himself before sinners with an avenging zeal.
~St. Gregory the Great (c. 540 – 604)
Excerpted from The Book of Pastoral Rule: St. Gregory the Great (Popular Patristics Series), Part II.
“It is worth noting that Gregory was the only Latin author of the patristic era whose works were translated into Greek during his own lifetime. Most notably, after reading the Book of Pastoral Rule, the Byzantine emperor Maurice ordered the book to be translated and disseminated to every bishop in his empire.” (From the Introduction)