GOD HAS SHONE IN OUR HEARTS to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.  In these pregnant words to the Corinthians Saint Paul continues to speak to us here today as we gather at the Eucharist to give thanks to God for the gift of His son, Jesus.  Paul here refers to this surpassing grace in eloquent terms drawing our attention inwardly, inviting us to enter into our deepest self.  For it is in the depths of our heart that the face of Christ shines upon us, reflecting the knowledge of the glory of God. Weak and fragile as we are, and prone to selfish sin, yet in God's mercy we are assured of His loving presence within us.  This assurance so forcibly expressed in these words is reinforced by our sharing in the sacrifice of the Eucharist we are preparing to offer at this altar.

These reflections have added significance for us on this day when we recall with affectionate honor the memory of Pope Gregory the Great.  For his life illustrates strikingly the fruits of bearing in the inmost self the light of grace as revealed in the face of Jesus.  This Pope was a man of remarkable energy as evidence by his many contributions to the growth of the missions and to the spirituality and discipline of the Church.  A palmary illustration of his pastoral care and spiritual direction is found in a letter he wrote to a busy physician at the emperor's court in Constantinople.  Gregory, having himself served in the Eastern capital for some years knew how demanding such service tended to be.

So after thanking this generous benefactor for a large gift of money to help spread and maintain the faith Gregory proceeds to speak to him of the needs of the spiritual life.  He states his message in striking language: "Disce cor Dei in verbis Dei", "Learn the heart of God in the words of God" he states, " that you might more ardently aspire after eternal things and that your mind might be set afire with greater desires for heavenly joys."  He followed up this exhortation with urging him to devote himself "regularly to meditation on the Scriptures.  Gregory himself, prior to serving as a diplomatic minister for the Holy See had himself lived the life of a monk in a roman monastery that stands to this day.  He had devoted himself to Lectio divina assiduously and in his 35 books of his Moral commentary on Job we possesses today one of the fruits of his prayerful reading.

Particularly stressing that our spiritual reading should be undertaken in such a way as to bring us to a growing knowledge of the Heart of God, Gregory gives a highly personalist tone to the meditative reading of the inspired word.  As becomes evident in his own life and in his multitudinous writings, this focus on the heart of God, translates into very practical daily living and in doing so results in the transformation of our whole self.  In following the teaching and example of Gregory's life of prayerful dedication may we too make our own life a fruitful contribution to the life of the Church.  By aspiring to the heavenly life in God we join Gregory in his dedication to the health and strength of the community that is one in the heart of Christ.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger