St Gregory the Great and the Art of Brevity

St Gregory the Great

It is not difficult to find a thousand appreciations of St Gregory the Great, most of them concentrating on one or other aspect of his life and work, according to the author’s personal preferences. Today, I will mention just one which happens to resonate with me: Gregory’s gift for writing simply and clearly about complex and difficult issues. His letters are much less well-known than many of his other works, but they a model of concision and clarity and provide an insight not only into his mind but into the way in which he understood the Church and its calling. I have often wished that papal or episcopal exhortations of our own day could be written in similarly limpid prose. Gregory doesn’t waste words: it is clear that he thinks before he writes, and prays before he thinks. Bloggers, please take note.