The Book of Pastoral Rule (St. Gregory the Great)

This book was absolutely fantastic. I am reading through the church fathers at about 10 pages per day, but I read this one much more quickly. It often includes what we consider quirky readings of the biblical text. Othertimes the readings are simply not what was meant. So in Revelation when Jesus talks about wishing the Laodiceans were hot or cold, Gregory thinks this means he wishes they were either on fire for Jesus or didn’t even pretend to be believers. But that’s not right: we know from archaeology that there were different aqueducts and that hot and cold water both served a different purpose. Does this make Gregory’s reading wrong? That one is less clear. But plenty is well worth thinking through. Here are a few quotes:

No one does more harm in the Church than he who has the title or rank of holiness and acts perversely.

Doctrine does not penetrate the mind of the needy if the hand of compassion does not commend it to the soul.

[W]hen a pastor is asked about a spiritual matter by a layperson, it would be disgraceful for him to have to learn the answer, when he should have been prepared to solve the question.

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