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Perils of the Professionally Holy


The call to pastoral holiness, then, is right. It's reasonable. It's also ridiculous.
—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 which he outlined the ideal pastoral life style, 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."

Let's just say we manage ...

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