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The Book of Pastoral
Rule was the most famous writing of Pope Gregory the Great. Written at the end
of the 16th century, It was addressed to John, Bishop of Ravenna, in
response to inquiries received from him regarding the challenges to and duties
of contemporary clergy. Full of wisdom for young ministers, it goes against the
culture of that time. Gregory defines ministry best as “the art of arts,”
encouraging all ministers of the serious calling of ministry.

 

In Gregory’s
Pastoral Rule, the first part is a private meditation where Gregory is reminded
of his own struggle to abandon his call to the papacy, and burdens that come
with episcopal duties.  It does not go
against the call to serve for one’s personal comfort, but answers the call to
direct a church body even in discomfort. 
Moving into the second part of Gregory’s the Pastoral Rule, he urges the
ones charged with governing a church to be men who seek grace and be a man of
prayer. Being in constant prayer allows a pastor to be a well-deserving
confessor and to give spiritual direction. If one is obedient to this practice
along with living a moral life, he is equipped to preach the law successfully.
Transitioning to the third section of the Pastoral Rule, Pope Gregory offers
advice and counsel on how a pastor should teach and preach. Firstly, a pastor
must know his congregation and understand the special needs they have. There
are thirty-two unique states of being and spirit that Pope Gregory describes to
his audience, and for every state he dedicates a chapter specifically on how to
preach and teach in a tailored way to each. 
Some consider this section a kind of preaching handbook that links the
scripture to the moral compass inside the believer and unbeliever. This paper
will examine 5 different aspects of pastoral ministry written in Gregory’s On
Pastoral Rule including: 1.A pastor should seek grace
and be a man of prayer. 2. A pastor must know his congregation and understand
the special needs they have. 3. A pastor should make himself heard more by
deeds than by words. 4. A pastor must preach the scripture in favorable situations and
unfavorable situations.  5. A pastor should understand the importance
of patience.

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 A pastor should seek humility and be a man of
prayer. The minister’s primary objective is to be in constant prayer with God
never allowing his service to his congregation and community obstruct that.
Doing this will set an excellent example to all by his actions striving after
holiness and service.  Effectiveness as a
minister cannot be reached unless one’s life shows the Christian virtues of
purity of thought, meekness of heart, and charity of speech and action. Gregory
explains how a minister should be a lion of strength and a friend to the
humble. He must correct evil in a manner that shows he is equal to all who sin
before The Almighty.

 

A pastor must know
his congregation and understand the special needs they have. The preacher
should be aware of the best way to reach men and women, and the young and old,
recognizing the capacity of each group to absorb and respond to the full gospel
message.  A pastor should speak to both
sexes as God made their response different thus creating a unique delivery for
both is very important. A man must be challenged and called to action where a
woman is motivated by a gentler approach. To a similar point, Gregory writes of
the elderly can absorb a reprimand much greater than the young church member.
He goes on to speak of how the rich and poor, the slave and the master, the
subject and superior all must be acknowledged and drawn to the message as each
person has special needs and appeals to different approaches. The church
consists of many differences in soul and mind, and different strengths and
weaknesses.

 

A pastor should make
himself heard more by his deeds than by words. Gregory offers a pastor a spiritual
“gold mine” of insights as he moves from one moral state of the spirit to the
next.  There is an abundance of practical
information that Pope Gregory exposes to a pastor regarding preaching morality
within scripture. But as Gregory reminds us that by his righteous way of living
he is an example to all men(142). To echo Saint Francis of Assisi, “Preach the
Gospel at all times and if necessary use words.”

 

A pastor must preach
the scripture in favorable situations and unfavorable situations.  Jesus demands that the Gospel is preached, and
the lost sheep are sought after fervently. If one is silent in the face of evil
while the sheep are being slaughtered, it is disobedience to the Good Shepherd
himself. If a pastor quits preaching the morality of scripture, the complete
Gospel message is spoiled. A fitting example of preaching scripture in
favorable situations and unfavorable situations is Christ definition of the
beatitudes by reinforcing the morality that is so crucial to the Christian
life.  Consequently, a pastor must soften
his stance on the matter at hand, or lack the courage, in such a dark hour the world
is in as the darkness has never overcome the light. He is the guardian of souls
standing strong when the enemy attacks. A pastor enters the spiritual battle, and
does not flee from it.

 

“Whence it is
written, “Better is the patient than the arrogant (Eccles. vii. 9);” because,
in truth, one that is patient chooses to suffer any evils whatever rather than
that his hidden good should come to be known through the vice of ostentation.”
(64)  A pastor should understand the
importance of patience. An example of Gregory’s approach to patience earns the
attention of his readers as he references patience 25 times in his book.  In contrasting the patient and the impatient, Pope
Gregory recommends that the preacher understand patience as a characteristic of
charity, and impatience as a characteristic          of pride.  Paul speaks about impatience in Ecclesiastes:
“the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit (Ecclesiastes 6:8).”  On the contrary, a patient person should not
allow his heart to grow into depression and begin to build the foundations of
spite and spite.  In 1 Corinthians
13:4-7, the very definition of love is defined partly as patience.

In closing, Gregory’s
awareness of the morality of scripture and vision into the spiritual is acute,
and he relies far and wide on the morality of the scriptures that exist in the
vision, to shepherd his flock tormented by both spiritual and moral attacks
from the enemy. The handbook to a contemporary pastor Pope Gregory offers concerning
the specific conditions of the soul as well as guidance on counseling and
encouraging his flock is priceless and withstands the test of time.  He equips a minister with a robust amount of scripture
that help with the application of individuals whose soul is dominated by a
certain virtue or vice. 

 

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