Thursday, September 02, 2010

Gregoriusfest for "God`s Consul"

The Gregoriusfest is a festival celebrated in Germany for schools and children. It has been a holiday for probably more than 1000 years.

It was apparently inaugurated by Pope Gregory IV (December 20, 827 – January 11, 844), in about AD 830 to commemorate Pope St Gregory the Great (590-604), after the reburial of the remains of Pope Saint Gregory the Great.

(His remains were moved again to their present location in St Peters Basilica in 1606)

It is still celebrated today in parts of Southern Germany and in Austria

Below is a photograph of the Gregoriusfest celebrations in Kulmbach, Bavaria in 1904 for the 1300th anniversary of the death of Pope Gregory I (where he is called Papst Gregor der Große)

To commemorate this important anniversary in 1904 Pope Pius X issued his Encyclical Iucunda Sane on 12th March 1904 (when 12th March was still the feast day of Gregory before it was subsequently moved)

It was written in the first year of the Pontificate of Pope Pius X, Pope Pius X clearly found inspiration for his own Pontificate in the life and works of Gregory the Great

He wrote:

"3. Truly wonderful is the work he was able to effect during his reign of little more than thirteen years. He was the restorer of Christian life in its entirety, stimulating the devotion of the faithful, the observance of the monks, the discipline of the clergy, the pastoral solicitude of the bishops. Most prudent father of the family of Christ that he was (Joann. Diac., Vita Greg. ii. 51), he preserved and increased the patrimony of the Church, and liberally succored the impoverished people, Christian society, and individual churches, according to the necessities of each.

Becoming truly God's Consul (Epitaph), he pushed his fruitful activity far beyond the walls of Rome, and entirely for the advantage of civilized society. He opposed energetically the unjust claims of the Byzantine Emperors; he checked the audacity and curbed the shameless avarice of the exarchs and the imperial administrators, and stood up in public as the defender of social justice.

He tamed the ferocity of the Lombards, and did not hesitate to meet Agulfus at the gates of Rome in order to prevail upon him to raise the siege of the city, just as the Pontiff Leo the Great did in the case of Attila; nor did he desist in his prayers, in his gentle persuasion, in his skillful negotiation, until he saw that dreaded people settle down and adopt a more regular government; until he knew that they were won to the Catholic faith, mainly through the influence of the pious Queen Theodolinda, his daughter in Christ.

Hence Gregory may justly be called the saviour and liberator of Italy - his own land, as he tenderly calls her.

4. Through his incessant pastoral care the embers of heresy in Italy and Africa die out, ecclesiastical life in the Gauls is reorganized, the Visigoths of the Spains are welded together in the conversion which has already been begun among them, and the renowned English nation, which, "situated in a corner of the world, while it had hitherto remained obstinate in the worship of wood and stone" (Reg. viii. 29, 30, ad Eulog. Episcop. Alexandr.), now also receives the true faith of Christ.

Gregory's heart overflowed with joy at the news of this precious conquest, for his is the heart of a father embracing his most beloved son, and in attributing all the merit of it to Jesus the Redeemer, "for whose love," as he himself writes, "we are seeking our unknown brethren in Britain, and through whose grace we find unknown ones we were seeking" (Reg. xi. 36 (28), ad Augustin. Anglorum Episcopum). And so grateful to the Holy Pontiff was the English nation that they called him always: our Master, our Doctor, our Apostle, our Pope, our Gregory, and considered itself as the seal of his apostolate.

In fine, so salutary and so efficacious was his action that the memory of the works wrought by him became deeply impressed on the minds of posterity, especially during the Middle Ages, which breathed, so to say, the atmosphere infused by him, fed on his words, conformed its life and manners according to the example inculcated by him, with the result that Christian social civilization was happily introduced into the world in opposition to the Roman civilization of the preceding centuries, which now passed away for ever.

5. This is the change of the right hand of the Most High! And well may it be said that in the mind of Gregory the hand of God alone was operative in these great events. What he wrote to the most holy monk Augustine about this same conversion of the English may be equally applied to all the rest of his apostolic action: "Whose work is this but His who said: My Father worketh till now, and I work? (John v. 17). To show the world that He wished to convert it, not by the wisdom of men, but by His own power, He chose unlettered men to be preachers to the world; and the same He has now done, vouchsafing to accomplish through weak men great things among the nation of the Angles" (Reg. xi. 36 (28)).

We, indeed, may discern much that the holy Pontiff's profound humility hid from his own sight: his knowledge of affairs, his talent for bringing his undertakings to a successful issue, the wonderful prudence shown in all his provisions, his assiduous vigilance, his persevering solicitude. But it is, nevertheless, true that he never put himself forward as one invested with the might and power of the great ones of the earth, for instead of using the exalted prestige of the Pontifical dignity, he preferred to call himself the Servant of the Servants of God, a title which he was the first to adopt.

It was not merely by profane science or the "persuasive words of human wisdom (I Cor. ii. 4) that he traced out his career, or by the devices of civil politics, or by systems of social renovation, skillfully studied, prepared and put in execution; nor yet, and this is very striking, by setting before himself a vast program of apostolic action to be gradually realized; for we know that, on the contrary, his mind was full of the idea of the approaching end of the world which was to have left him but little time for great exploits.

Very delicate and fragile of body though he was, and constantly afflicted by infirmities which several times brought him to the point of death, he yet possessed an incredible energy of soul which was for ever receiving fresh vigour from his lively faith in the infallible words of Christ, and in His Divine promises. Then again, he counted with unlimited confidence on the supernatural force given by God to the Church for the successful accomplishment of her divine mission in the world.

The constant aim of his life, as shown in all his words and works, was, therefore, this: to preserve in himself, and to stimulate in others this same lively faith and confidence, doing all the good possible at the moment in expectation of the Divine judgment."

The Encyclical of Pius X is a reforming document. Some might even describe it as "a Manifesto". But that would be to mischaracterise it completely. Pius X was solely concerned with the spiritual and not temporal. He was only concerned about the temporal in so far as it affected the spiritual.

In it he defined "the ideal of the true priest" as Pope Gregory had described it in his Regula Pastoralis.

He also defined the ideal of the true Bishop.

The Encyclical is well worth reading even if only to give an idea of what was the motivation of the writer, Pope Pius X in the initial stages of his reforming Pontificate.