St. Gregory the Great (540 – 604)
Pope Saint Gregory I was born in Rome of noble and wealthy parents. After lengthy reflection on the moral conflicts associated with government and power, he renounced worldly ambitions, distributed his substantial wealth and goods to the poor and retired to a monastery. He administered the needs of his monastery so admirably that he was called to serve the Pope as the papal ambassador to Constantinople. He is known first for his holiness and insight, and then for his masterful rebuilding of the Western Church from the rubble of barbarian invasions which completed the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. His writings portray creation as everywhere filled with the glorious presence of Christ Who made all things translucent and transparent to the illumined mind.
Why Human Perspective of Creation Can Vary
While the monks were still sleeping, Benedict, the man of God, was keeping vigil. Standing in front of his window in the dead of night he was praying to the Lord when suddenly he was filled with an extraordinarily bright blazing light, and it dispelled the darkness and radiated with such brilliance that it would have outshone the light of day. While he was caught up in this light, something extraordinary happened. As he described it later, the whole world was gathered up before his eyes as if in a ray of sunlight….
How is it possible for the whole world to be seen in this way by a human being? … For a soul who beholds the Creator, all creation is narrow in compass. For when a person views the Creator’s light, no matter how little of it, all creation becomes small by comparison in his eyes. By the light of interior contemplation or inner vision, the inner recesses of the mind are opened up and so expanded in God that they are above the universe. In fact, the soul of the beholder rises even above itself. When it is caught up above itself, it is made ampler within. As it looks down from its height, it grasps the smallness of what it could not take in its lowly state.
Therefore, as Benedict gazed at the fiery globe, he saw angels too returning to heaven….
To say that the world was gathered together before his eyes does not mean that heaven and earth shrank, but that the mind of the beholder was expanded so that he could easily see everything below God since he himself was caught up in God.
~ Dialogues II:35-38. Quoted in Fullness of Life, By Margaret R. Miles, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2006, p. 90.
The Bible as a River
[The Bible] is, as it were, a kind of river, if I may so liken it, which is both shallow and deep, wherein both the lamb may find a footing and the elephant may float at large.
Morals on the Book of Job, Vol. 1, Chapter 1. In Library of the Fathers of the holy Catholic Church, J.H. Parker, 1844, p. 9.
God as the necessity for all created things
All things would tend to nothing in virtue of their nature if they were not governed by God.
~ Commentary On the Book of Job, 16, 37,45 (PL 75,1144).