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8. Gregory’s Moral Theology: Divine Providence and Human Responsibility

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Chapter Summary

Gregory adapts the stoic technology of the self to advance Christian values, particularly of patience, self-sacrifice, and compassion. Stoicism provides a comprehensive unity, a philosophical "skeleton" for a "body" of moral theology. Gregory shares the stoic conviction that providence allows nothing disordered or random in the universe; everything is rational and purposeful. Gregory gives the Eucharist a new centrality that shapes the future; he is a forerunner of the Eucharistic piety of later medieval and Counter Reformation Christianity. Gregory also stresses Christ's suffering and sacrifice in humanity's redemption, though he also reiterates old traditions. But Gregory wants to highlight human responsibility, so Christ's natures and actions become complementary. Significantly, Gregory also makes the Mass the occasion for individual vows of self-sacrifice, so it is both a sacrament and an individual discipline. Gregory's just order of providence assumes the underlying unity of creation.

Keywords: divine providence; Eucharist; Gregory; human responsibility; moral theology; stoicism



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