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The Perils of Professional Holiness

Most of the time, we fall short of holiness because we strive so diligently for holiness.
— Mark Galli

Pick a century, any century, and you'll find lots of good advice given to pastors. In the sixth century, for instance, Pope Gregory, "the Great," wrote a whole book for pastors called Pastoral Care. In the middle of that book, he outlined the ideal pastoral lifestyle, or what some might call pulpit-committee utopia.

The pastor, he wrote, "must devote himself entirely to setting an ideal of living. He must die to all passions of the flesh and … lead a spiritual life."

All well and good if you stick to generalities. Gregory doesn't.

"He must have put aside worldly prosperity; he must fear no adversity, desire only what is interior.… He is not led to covet the goods of others, but is bounteous in giving of his own."

Certainly. Well, most of the time anyway.

"He is quickly moved by a compassionate heart to forgive, yet never so diverted from perfect rectitude as to forgive beyond what is proper." ...

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