Letters, Volume 1 (1–82) (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 12)

Letters, Volume 1 (1–82) (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 12)

Translated by SISTER WILFRID PARSONS
Copyright Date: 1951
Pages: 442
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32b077
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  • Book Info
    Letters, Volume 1 (1–82) (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 12)
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1112-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xi-xxii)

    The-letters of St. Augustine are not as well known as they deserve to be. It may be that they have suffered by comparison with the Confessions or the City of God, and the reader who takes them up expecting to be entertained by the revelation of a rich personality or thrilled by the recital of an eventful life is due for a disappointment. Augustine made his personal revelation of his early life in the Confessions, and it stops with them. If he wrote any purely social or familiar letters, they have not been preserved. We have not a single one...

  4. Letter
    • 1. To Hermogenianus
      (pp. 3-5)

      I should not venture, even in jest, to criticize the Academicians,² whose influence has always weighed strongly with me, if I did not think they have been in far other repute than is commonly believed. Therefore, as far as possible, I have imitated them rather than attacked them—which latter I am quite unable to do. If any untainted stream flows from the Platonic spring, it seems to me that in these times it is better for it to be guided through shady and thorny thickets, for the possession of the few, rather than allowed to wander through open spaces...

    • 2. To Zenobius
      (pp. 5-6)

      We had agreed, I think, that none of the things which a bodily sense reveals to us can remain unchanged for even an instant, and that everything shifts, flows away, and has no hold on the present, which is to say, in Latin, that it has no being. The true and divine philosophy warns us to check and tame the love of such things, so dangerous and so full of penalties for us; and, while the body is engaged in its own activity, the mind should be carried away and entirely enamored of what alone remains unchanged, of what is...

    • 3. To Nebridius
      (pp. 6-11)

      I am not sure whether this is to be put down to your flattery, so to speak, or whether it is really so. For the thought suddenly occurred to me, without deliberation, how far people can be trusted. You wonder what this means. What do you think? You almost convinced me, not, indeed, that I am happy, for that is the reward of the wise man alone, but that I am comparatively happy, as we say that a man is comparatively a man when measured against that man whom Plato knew, or that a thing is comparatively round or square,...

    • 4. To Nebridius
      (pp. 11-12)

      When I was looking to see how many letters of yours still remained to be answered, for a wonder, and quite unexpectedly, I found only one which still keeps me your debtor; the one in which you hope and desire that I may have plenty of time for you, so that I can tell you what progress I have made in the distinction between the real¹ and the ideal. I think you know that anyone is more easily involved in false opinions, the more he is exposed to them, and the same happens to the mind in the case of...

    • 5. Nebridius to Augustine
      (pp. 12-13)

      My dear Augustine, it is true?—that you show such courage and patience in serving your fellow citizens, and that the much-desired leisure is not granted you? I ask you, why do they impose on you when you are so good? I suppose it must be because they do not know what you love and what you desire. But, is there none of your friends who could declare your preferences to them? Why not Romanianus?¹ or Lucinianus?² Surely, they would listen to me. I will shout, I will testify that God is your love, that you long to serve Him...

    • 6. Nebridius to Augustine
      (pp. 13-14)

      Your letters are as precious to me as my eyes. For they are great, not in length, but in the subjects they treat and the proofs of weighty truths which they contain. They speak to me of Christ, of Plato, of Plotinus.¹ To me they will always be sweet to hear because of their eloquence, easy to read because of their brevity, and safe to understand because of their wisdom. You must take care to teach me whatever seems good and holy to you. You shall answer this letter when you have reached a more accurate conclusion about imagination and...

    • 7. To Nebridius
      (pp. 14-19)

      I shall dispense with an introduction and begin at once on what you wish me to discuss, but I shall not leave off quickly. You claim that memory¹ cannot exist without images or those mental pictures which you wish to call fantasies. I think otherwise. Now, in the first place we must note that we do not always remember things past, but often things still in existence. And, although memory retains a firm hold on things past, it is evident that it is partly of things that have left us behind and partly of those we have left behind. When...

    • 8. Nebridius to Augustine
      (pp. 20-20)

      In my haste to get to the point, I shall dispense with preface and introduction. How does it happen, my dear Augustine, or what method is used by the spiritual powers—I mean the heavenly ones—when they wish to set before us in our sleep certain dreams? I repeat: what method? That is, how do they do it, by what art, what devices, what instrumentalities, what spells? Do they project their own thoughts into our mind, so that we represent those things to ourselves in our thought? Or do they in their own body¹ or in their own imagination...

    • 9. To Nebridius
      (pp. 21-23)

      Although you know my mind, still, perhaps, you do not know how much I should enjoy your company at present. However, God will grant us this great favor some time. I have read your latest letter, in which you complain of loneliness and of a certain desertion by your friends, in whose company life is sweet. But, what other thing can I tell you to do, except what I do not doubt you do yourself? Retire into your own mind and lift it up to God as best you can. There you will surely find us, not by means of...

    • 10. To Nebridius
      (pp. 23-25)

      Never has any of your inquiries kept me in such a tempest of thought as that one which I read in your latest letters, where you claim that I am negligent in making arrangements for us to live in the same place. That is a serious charge, and, if it were not false, it would carry a grave penalty. But, since a very persuasive argument seems to prove that we can live here more satisfactorily than at Carthage or even in the country, I am somewhat uncertain what to do with you, my dear Nebridius. Should a vehicle be all...

    • 11. To Nebridius
      (pp. 25-29)

      Although I had been greatly disturbed by a recent problem of yours, set forth with a certain friendly reproach—namely, how we might be able to reside together; and although I had determined to write to you about this alone, and not to turn my pen to any other subject of mutual interest to us until this one had been settled, your latest letter, with its brief and very reasonable proposal, has quickly set me at ease. We shall, therefore, not have to think about this again, since it is agreed that either we shall go to you when we...

    • 12. To Nebridius
      (pp. 30-30)

      You write that you have sent more letters than I have received—a matter in which I can neither disbelieve you nor you me. I may not be able to keep up with you in answering, but I keep your letters with no less care than you use in multiplying them. We agree on this, that you have received only two of my longer letters; I did not write a third. I notice by the copies I have kept that I have answered almost five of your questions, except that one of them was treated rather cursorily. This was a...

    • 13. To Nebridius
      (pp. 31-32)

      I do not like to write you on trite subjects, and I am not able to deal with new ones; I see that the former do not suit you, and for the latter I have no time. Since I left you, I have not had a chance nor any leisure for thinking over and working out those subjects which we usually discuss together. It is true, the winter nights are very long, and I do not sleep through the whole of them; but, when I have some time, more importunate matters demand my attention, and they necessarily use up all...

    • 14. To Nebridius
      (pp. 33-35)

      I have decided to answer your latest letters, not because I have no regard for your earlier inquiries, or that they gave me less pleasure, but because in answering I am undertaking a greater task than you think. You did, it is true, give me orders to send you a letter longer than the longest, but I have not as much time as you think, or as you know that I have always longed and still do long to have. Do not ask me why that is: I could more easily tell you what my handicaps are than why I...

    • 15. To Romanianus
      (pp. 36-37)

      This letter points to a scarcity of paper, but does it not at least show that there is plenty of parchment? I sent my ivory tablets to your uncle, with a message, but you will more readily pardon this bit of parchment, because what I wrote to him could not be delayed, and I thought it would be foolish not to write to you, too. But I wish you would send back any tablets of mine that are with you, to meet such emergencies as this. I have written something on the Catholic religion, within the limits of what the...

    • 16. Maximus to Augustine
      (pp. 37-39)

      Because I often long for the pleasure of your words and the prick of your speech, with which you goad me most delightfully and in all kindness, I cannot refrain from answering you, lest you think that my silence means a change of mind. So, I ask you to treat me with the indulgence of kindly ears, even if you think these are the wiles of an old man. There is a Greek myth of uncertain authenticity to the effect that Mount Olympus is the dwelling-place of the gods. We, on the other hand, see and prove that the forum...

    • 17. To Maximus
      (pp. 39-43)

      Are we dealing seriously together, or do you want to joke? From the tone of your letter, I am not sure whether it is because of the weakness of your case, or the charm of your manners, that you prefer to be witty rather than exact. In the first place, there is a comparison of Mount Olympus and your forum—although I do not know what that has to do with it, except to inform me that Jupiter pitched his camp there when he was making war on his father, as that history which your people call sacred narrates—and...

    • 18. To Caelestinus
      (pp. 43-44)

      How I wish I could speak with you at length! That, indeed, is something—to be stripped of vain cares and clothed with useful ones. But, I doubt whether any security is to be hoped for in this world. I have written to you and had no answer. I sent you my books against the Manichaeans²—the ones I had finished and corrected—but I have not had any indication of your impression of them or your criticism of them. So, now, I must ask them back and you must send them back. I ask you to do so at...

    • 19. To Gaius
      (pp. 44-45)

      After I had left you, the memory of you filled me with indescribable sweetness—and still does. I recall that, in spite of the ardor of your questions, which was extraordinary, there was no lack of restraint in your arguments. I could not easily find another who questions so eagerly and listens so quietly. I wish I could talk much with you, although it would not be much, however much it was, if only I could talk with you. But, because it is difficult, what need is there to seek reasons? Certainly, it is difficult. Perhaps it will be easier...

    • 20. To Antoninus
      (pp. 45-47)

      Although letters were owed to you by both of us, the better part of the debt is being discharged with interest, because you are seeing one of us in person, and from him you can hear news of me. This could have relieved me of the necessity of writing, because his journey seemed to make it superfluous, but at his bidding I have done so. Perhaps, after all, I shall have a more profitable talk with you than I should have in a personal conference, since you both read my letter and listen to him in whose heart I live...

    • 21. To Bishop Valerius
      (pp. 47-51)

      First of all, I beg your religious Prudence to consider that there is nothing in this life, and especially at this time, easier or more agreeable or more acceptable to men than the office of bishop or priest or deacon, if it is performed carelessly or in a manner to draw flattery; but in God’s sight there is nothing more wretched, more melancholy, or more worthy of punishment. On the other hand, there is nothing in this life more difficult, more laborious, or more dangerous than the office of bishop or priest or deacon, but nothing more blessed in the...

    • 22. To Bishop Valerius
      (pp. 51-58)

      With what thankfulness I was ready to answer the letters of your Holiness—which I looked for in vain for a long time—and to what a high pitch the reading of your letter stirred me as I rose from sleep, so that the affection of my heart exceeded all bounds! I thereupon commended myself to God, begging Him to work upon my powers so that I might write to you in turn what should accord with our mutual zeal for the Lord, and our care of the Church, as befits your high estate and my position as helper. First...

    • 23. To Maximinus
      (pp. 58-65)

      Before I come to the point of what I wanted to write to your Benevolence, I shall give you a brief explanation of the inscription of this letter, which might disturb you or someone else. I have written ‘lord,’ because it is written: ‘For you, brethren, have been called unto liberty: only make not liberty an occasion of the flesh, but by the charity of the Spirit serve one another.¹ Since, therefore, I serve you by the charity of this ministry of letters, it is not unreasonable for me to call you lord, because of our one and true Lord...

    • 24. Paulinus and Therasia to Bishop Alypius
      (pp. 66-70)

      This is the true charity, this is the perfect love for you, which you have shown to be innate in our lowliness, truly holy lord, rightly blessed and desirable. When our man Julian returned from Carthage, he brought us letters so filled with the light of your sanctity that we seemed not so much to learn as to recognize your charity for us, since doubtless that charity flows from Him who chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,⁴ in whom we were made before we were born, because He made us and not we ourselves,⁵ who made...

    • 25. Paulinus and Therasia to Augustine
      (pp. 70-75)

      The charity of Christ, which presseth us¹ and binds us together even in absence by the unity of faith, lends us confidence to set aside our awe of you and to write to you. It binds you also to me in my innermost fibers, especially through those works of yours which I now have in five books, overflowing with scholarly authority and sweet with heavenly honeycomb—medicine and nourishment for my soul. We have received them through the gift of our blessed and venerable Bishop Alypius, not only for our own instruction, but for the profit of the Church in...

    • 26. To Licentius
      (pp. 75-86)

      I have had a hard time finding an occasion to write to you. Who would believe it? But Licentius must believe me and I do not want you to go spying out causes and reasons, because, even if they could be found, they do not belong to the trust which you have in me. I could not send you back an answer by those who brought me your letters. What you asked me to request I have taken care of by letter, as far as it seemed possible to promote it; you will see what success I have had. If...

    • 27. To Paulinus
      (pp. 87-93)

      O good sir and good brother, you have been hiding from my heart. And I tell it to endure your still hiding from my sight, but it scarcely obeys me; in fact, it does not obey me at all. Does it truly endure this? Then, why does the longing for you torment the innermost part of my being? If it were pains of body that I were bearing without losing the serenity of my soul, I should be considered to be bearing them properly, but, when I am disturbed at not seeing you, it is unbearable to call that bearing...

    • 28. To St. Jerome
      (pp. 93-98)

      Never has anyone been so well known to another by face, as the quiet joy and scholarly pursuit of your studies in the Lord are known to me. Although I greatly desire to know you wholly, I have a little bit of you, namely, your physical appearance. I owe this to brother Alypius, now a blessed bishop, but even then worthy of the episcopate; for, after he had seen you and I had seen him at his return, I confess that you were made almost present to me by his description; and even before he came back, while he was...

    • 29. To Bishop Alypius
      (pp. 99-108)

      Concerning that matter which I cannot help being concerned about, I could not give you any definite news while brother Macarius¹ was away, but I hear that he will soon be back, and, whatever can be carried through, with the help of God, will be carried through. Although our brethren and fellow citizens, who were present, could set you at ease about our anxiety for them, nevertheless a circumstance deserving of the sort of epistolary conversation with which we console each other has been granted by the Lord, and in furthering it I believe we are much helped by your...

    • 30. Paulinus and Therasia to Augustine
      (pp. 109-111)

      Some time ago, my dearly beloved brother in Christ the Lord, although I realized that you were unacquainted with me, and that you were absent and engaged in your holy and pious labors, I made haste to approach you by letter, embracing you with my whole heart in a brotherly and intimate conversation. And I believe that, by the favor of the Lord, my words were delivered into your hands; but as the messenger whom I had sent before the winter set in to deliver greetings to you and others, equally dear to God, has not yet returned, I can...

    • 31. To Paulinus and Therasia
      (pp. 111-117)

      I had greatly desired that my letters, in which I answered your previous ones—if it is at all possible for me to answer yours—should come quickly into the hands of your Charity, so that I could be with you in some wise, even though separated from you. My delay has brought me the gain of your letter. The Lord is good, who often does not give us what we want so as to grant us what we would rather have. Your intention of writing after receiving my letter is one thing, but your having written without receiving mine...

    • 32. Paulinus and Therasia to Romanianus
      (pp. 117-126)

      On the day before we sent this letter, our brothers,¹ returned from Africa—and you saw how eagerly we awaited them—bringing us the longed-for letters from Aurelius, Alypius, Augustine, Profuturus, Severus, all of them now bishops. Therefore, rejoicing in the latest messages of so many holy men, we have hastened to relate our happiness to you, so as to share with you, also, by these delightful announcements the joy which is looked forward to in the midst of this our care-laden pilgrimage. If you have heard the same tidings from venerable and esteemed men, who have arrived on other...

    • 33. To Proculeianus
      (pp. 126-130)

      Because of the vanity of the unlettered, I should no longer discuss with you the salutation of my letter. As we are trying each to draw the other out of error, although without an open discussion of the case, it may not be clear to some which of us is in error; still, by dealing together in good faith, we do each other the service of freeing ourselves from the misfortune of discord. In any case, whether or not this is evident to the majority of men, He, before whom all hearts lie open, sees that I am acting with...

    • 34. To Eusebius
      (pp. 131-134)

      God, to whom the secrets of the human heart lie open, knows that, much as I desire Christian peace, I am deeply moved by the sacrilegious deeds of those who unworthily and impiously persist in separation from Him. And He knows that this disturbance of my mind is peaceful, and that I do not intend that anyone should be forced into the Catholic communion against his will. On the contrary, it is my aim that the truth may be revealed to all who are in error, and that, through our ministry, with the help of God, it may be made...

    • 35. To Eusebius
      (pp. 135-138)

      Not in a spirit of unwanted encouragement or interference have I imposed on your reluctant will, as you say, a settlement to be agreed on between bishops. Indeed, even if I had wished to suggest that, I could have shown easily, perhaps, how well you yourself are able to judge between us in a case so clear and evident, and what sort of thing you do, in your avoidance of a settlement, when you do not shrink from rendering a one-sided verdict, without hearing both sides. I had asked nothing else of your honorable Benignity—and I should like you...

    • 36. To Casulanus
      (pp. 138-167)

      I do not know how it has happened that I have not answered your first letter; I know I did not do so through any lack of consideration for you, for I take delight in your scholarly pursuits and even in your conversation, and I pray for you and urge you in this time of your youth to make progress in the word of God, and to bring forth abundant fruit for the edification of the Church. And now I have received your second letter, in which you beg of consideration for you, for I pursuits and even in your...

    • 37. To Simplicianus
      (pp. 168-169)

      I have received the letters sent by the kindness of your Holiness, letters full of good joys, because you are mindful of me, and love me, as you are wont, and because it is a personal satisfaction to you that the Lord has deigned in His mercy to confer on me something of His gifts, through no merits of my own. In these letters I have drunk deep of your fatherly affection for me, not a new or sudden thing for your loving heart, but something I have tried and known intimately, most blessed lord, worthy to be embraced by...

    • 38. To Profuturus
      (pp. 169-171)

      In spirit, as far as it pleases the Lord and as He deigns to give me strength, I am well; but, in body, I am in bed, for I can neither walk nor stand nor sit because of the pain and swelling of hemorrhoids and chafing. Even so, since it pleases the Lord, what else is to be said but that I am well? If we do not will what He wills, we must blame ourselves, not Him, who does and permits only what is for our good. You know all this, but because you are my other self, I...

    • 39. St. Jerome to Augustine
      (pp. 171-172)

      Last year, I sent to your Worthiness by our brother Asterius, the subdeacon, a letter paying my respects to you; and I believe you received it. Now, I am again sending a message through my holy brother Praesidius, a deacon, asking you, first, to be mindful of me; second, to receive the approved bearer of my letter, and know that he is most dear to me; and, finally, to cherish and support him in any need he may have. With Christ as his Giver, he does not lack anything, but he has a most eager desire for the friendship of...

    • 40. To St. Jerome
      (pp. 172-179)

      I thank you for sending me, according to the greeting mentioned below,¹ a full answer, although a much shorter one than I should like from a man like you, because no word of yours is superfluous, however much time it consumes. Therefore, although I am beset by the monstrous cares of irrelevant and secular business, I would not easily forgive the brevity of your letter except on the ground that it can be answered with fewer words. Come, then, at my request, and undertake a written debate with me, for I should not like the silence and inactivity of our...

    • 41. Alypius and Augustine to Bishop Aurelius
      (pp. 179-181)

      ‘Our mouth was filled with gladness and our tongue with joy’² when we learned from your letters that your holy plan, with the help of the Lord who inspired it, had been put into effect, regarding all the brethren in Orders and especially the priests who had preached to the people in your presence.³ Thus, by the Lord’s help, the language of your Charity sounds in their hearts more loudly than the voices of the preachers in their ears. What better prayer can we think in our mind, or utter with our tongue, or express with our pen than ‘Thanks...

    • 42. To Paulinus and Therasia
      (pp. 181-182)

      Surely, this was not to be looked for or expected, that we should wait so long and so eagerly for the answer sent by your Charity but not delivered by brother Severus. How does it happen that we are forced to thirst here in Africa these two summers? Oh, you who give your substance daily in alms, pay what you owe. Was it, perhaps, because I had heard that you were writing a book against demon-worshippers and I had shown how much I wanted that work that you put off for so long writing a letter in order to finish...

    • 43. To Glorius, Eleusius, the Felixes, Grammaticus, and Others
      (pp. 182-207)

      The Apostle Paul said: ‘A man that is a heretic, after the first admonition, avoid, knowing that he that is such a one is subverted and sinneth, being condemned by himself,’² But, those who maintain their own opinion, however false and perverted, without obstinate ill will, especially those who have not originated their own error by bold presumption, but have received it from parents who had been led astray and had lapsed, those who seek truth with careful industry, ready to be corrected when they have found it, are not to be rated among heretics. Therefore, if I did not...

    • 44. To Eleusiu, Glorius, and the Felixes
      (pp. 207-219)

      On our recent visit to Tubursicum,¹ as we passed through quickly on our way to the church in Cirta,² we found Fortunius, your bishop there, to be quite what you always promised he would be. Indeed, he did not belie the account you gave of him, when we sent him word that we wished to see him. So, we went to him rather than expect him to come to us first, because we thought his age required that consideration. We traveled with a fairly large company, which the occasion³ had gathered together, but, when we sat down with Fortunius, another...

    • 45. Alypius and Augustine to Paulinus and Therasia
      (pp. 219-220)

      Your unexplained silence, in which we have received no letters from you, lo! these two years, since those sweetest of brothers, Romanus and Agilis, left us to go to you, has not made us slothful in writing to you. For, although in other things the more one is loved, the more worthy he seems of imitation, in this matter it is just the opposite. So, the more ardently we love you, the less easily we bear your not writing to us, and we have no wish to imitate you in that. Behold us, then, sending you greetings, if not in...

    • 46. Publicola to Augustine
      (pp. 220-225)

      It is written: ‘Ask thy father and he will declare to thee; thy elders and they will tell thee.’² Therefore, I have decided that I must seek but the law from the mouth of the priest in such matter as I am explaining by letter. And that I may at the same time be instructed on various points, I have planned out separate questions and noted them under various heads, which I ask you to be so kind as to answer.

      I. In Arzuges, as I heard, the barbarians are accustomed to swear by their demons to the overseer or...

    • 47. To Publicola
      (pp. 225-231)

      The anxieties of your mind became mine also as soon as I had learned of them from your letter, not because the same things disturb me as you have declared disturb you, but because, I admit, I was concerned to know how I could remove your uneasiness, especially as you ask me to answer you clearly, lest you fall into greater doubts than you had before you consulted me. Something may seem absolutely certain to me, but, if I do not put it in such a way as to convince you, you will undoubtedly be more confused than ever. I...

    • 48. To Eudoxius
      (pp. 231-234)

      When we think of the quiet life which you have in Christ, even we, who are involved in many hard tasks, find rest in your Charity. We are one body under one head, so that you are care-worn in us and we are carefree in you, because, ‘if one member suffer anything, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.’² We warn you, therefore, and we beg and pray and beseech by the most deep humility and most merciful sublimity of Christ, that you remember us in your prayers, in which...

    • 49. To Honoratus
      (pp. 234-237)

      That plan of yours pleases me greatly, which you were so kind as to confide to brother Eros, a praiseworthy man and very dear to us, that we should carry on our argument by letter Thus, no interruption of crowds can disturb our debate, which should be undertaken and carried on with all peace and quietness of mind, as the Apostle says: ‘But the servant of the Lord must not wrangle, but be mild towards all men, apt to teach, patient, with modesty admonishing those who differ in opinion.’¹ Thus we indicate briefly what we wish answered by you.

      Since...

    • 50. To the Leaders of the Sufes
      (pp. 237-237)

      The infamous crime and unspeakable cruelty of your savagery shakes the earth and strikes the heavens, when blood flows and murder cries aloud in your streets and shrines. By you Roman law is buried, respect for upright judges is trampled under foot; and among you there is surely neither respect nor fear for the emperors. The innocent blood of sixty brothers has been shed among you, and, if anyone killed more, he enjoyed praise and held high position in your government. Let us come, now, to the chief cause. If you say Hercules is yours, we will restore him; there...

    • 51. To Crispinus
      (pp. 238-243)

      Since your people despise our lowliness, I preface my letter in this fashion,¹ trusting that I may not seem to belittle you; if not, I expect to be answered in the same way. There is not much for me to say about your promise of a meeting at Carthage, or of my insistence on it. Whatever arrangements we made have gone by, but let them not stand in the way for the time that remains. With the Lord’s help, there is now no excuse—if I am not wrong about it; we are both in Numidia, and we are in...

    • 52. To Severinus
      (pp. 243-245)

      I have received with joy the letter of your Fraternity, though very late and beyond what I had hoped. But I was filled with much deeper joy when I learned that your messenger had come to Hippo for the sole purpose of bringing me your Fraternity’s letter. I thought that there was good reason why you should recall our kinship, doubtless because you saw—and I know the strong quality of your prudence—how sad a thing it is that we are brothers according to the flesh, but we do not live in the same relationship in the Body of...

    • 53. Fortunatus, Alypius, and Augustine to Generosus
      (pp. 245-251)

      As you wished to show us the letter sent you by the Donatist priest, which you, of course, repudiate with a truly Catholic mind, we are writing you an answer to send him, so as to set him right, if he is not hopelessly far gone in folly. He writes that an angel ordered him to win you over to the form of Christianity of your city, whereas your form of Christianity is not only that of your city, or even of Africa and the Africans, but of the whole world, which has been and is being preached to all...

    • 54. To Januarius
      (pp. 252-260)

      I should prefer to know beforehand what answer you would give to the questions you have asked me; in that way I could answer much more briefly by approving or correcting your answers, as it would be very easy for me to agree with you or set you right. This, as I said, is what I should prefer. But, in answering you now, I have preferred to make my answer longer than my delay. In the first place, I want you to hold as the basic truth of this discussion that our Lord Jesus Christ, as He Himself said in...

    • 55. To Januarius
      (pp. 260-293)

      After reading your letter in which you reminded me of the debt I owe you in solving the rest of the difficulties which you submitted to me a long time ago, I could no longer bear to put off your eager desire, so pleasant and so dear to me, and, although I am swamped with duties, I put this one, of answering what you asked, ahead of the others. But, I do not want to keep talking about your letter, since that delays me in paying what I owe.

      You ask why it is that the annual commemoration of the...

    • 56. To Celer
      (pp. 293-294)

      I am not forgetting my promise and your desire. But, as I had to set out on a round of visits to the churches which are under my care, and as I could not at once pay my debt to you personally, and I did not want to owe any longer what could be paid from what I have, I therefore commissioned my very dear son, the priest Optatus, to read with you what I promised, at the times that you would find most convenient. When he sees that this task can be wholly completed, your Excellency will except it...

    • 57. To Celer
      (pp. 295-296)

      I believe there was no good reason why the sect of Donatus should sever itself from the rest of the world wherein the Catholic Church is spread, according to the promises of the Prophets and the Gospel, a fact which your Prudence has easily grasped upon further consideration. If there is need of more detailed argument on this point, I remember that I gave your Benevolence a book¹ to read, when my dear Caecilius, your son, hinted to me that you wanted it. This book remained in your hands for some time. If in your desire to know about this...

    • 58. To Pammachius
      (pp. 296-298)

      Your good works, springing up by the grace of Christ, have made you honorable and widely known, and greatly to be loved by us among His members. You would not be better known to me, if I saw your face every day, than you are since I have beheld the inner beauty of your peaceful soul, lovely and shining with the light of truth, with the splendor of this one deed of yours—I have beheld and recognized, I have recognized and loved. To this dear friend I now speak, to him I now write, who is well known to...

    • 59. To Victorinus
      (pp. 298-300)

      The synodal summons reached me on November 9, at the end of the day, and it found me altogether unprepared, so that I was not able to go. But, whether it disturbed me because of my inexperience, of whether I was disturbed with good reason, it is for your Holiness and Dignity to decide. I read in the same summons that it had been addressed even to the Mauretanias, although we know that those provinces have their own primates. And, if any of them were summoned to a council held in Numidia, then it was certainly proper to put in...

    • 60. To Bishop Aurelius
      (pp. 300-301)

      I have received no letters from your Reverence since we parted from each other in the flesh, but now I have read the letters of your Benignity about Donatus² and his brother and I have wavered a long time over the answer I should make. After thinking it over again and again, trying to see what is useful for the best interests of those whom we shepherds have to feed in Christ, I can reach no other conclusion than that we should not open that road to the servants of God, so that they could too easily think themselves called...

    • 61. To Theodore
      (pp. 302-303)

      When your Benevolence was speaking to me about our receiving clerics from the Donatist sect, if they wanted to be Catholics, I decided to set forth in this letter which is being despatched to you the answer which I then made to you, so that, if anyone asks you what we think of this matter, you can show him this, written by my own hand. You should know, then, that we do not hate anything in them except that separation by which they became schismatics or heretics, since by not holding to the unity of the Catholic Church they neither...

    • 62. Alypius, Augustine, and Samsucius to Bishop Severus
      (pp. 304-305)

      When we arrived at Subsana³ and were inquiring about what had been done there against our will and in our absence, we heard that some things had been done differently, and all of them matters of regret, but having to be tolerated; so we corrected them, as far as we could with the Lord’s help, partly by remonstrance, partly by warning and partly by prayer. But, what saddened us most after the departure of your Holiness was that the brethren were sent away from there without a guide for their journey, and we ask you to pardon us and be...

    • 63. To Bishop Severus
      (pp. 306-308)

      If I say what the case in hand forces me to say, where is the respect for charity? But, if I do not say it, where is the freedom of friendship? After wavering awhile, I have decided to excuse myself rather than blame you. You wrote that you were surprised at our being willing to tolerate, with sorrow, what could have been remedied by correction, as if one ought not to grieve over wrong-doing even when it is corrected, as far as possible afterwards, or as if there were not the greatest need of toleration when something which was evidently...

    • 64. To Quintianus
      (pp. 309-312)

      We do not disdain to look on bodies which are not beautiful, especially since our own souls are not yet beautiful, as we hope they will be when He, the indescribably beautiful one, ‘shall appear,’ in whom we now believe without seeing Him, ‘then we shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is.’² We exhort you also to feel thus about your soul, if you are willing to take this in a brotherly spirit, and do not assume that it is beautiful, but, as the Apostle enjoins, that you rejoice in hope and do what...

    • 65. To Xanthippus
      (pp. 312-314)

      I salute your Worthiness, I earnestly recommend myself to your prayers, and I give notice to your Worthiness that a certain Abundantius has been ordained priest in the hamlet of Strabonia, which belongs to our diocese. As he did not walk the ways of the servants of God, he began to acquire an unfavorable reputation. Alarmed by this, while unwilling to believe anything without proof, but growing more anxious, I took steps to secure, if possible, some direct proofs of his wrong behavior. First, I discovered that he had diverted the money of a certain farmer from the religious purpose...

    • 66. Against the Schismatic Crispinus
      (pp. 314-316)

      Surely, you should have feared God, but, since you wished to be feared as a man when you rebaptized the citizens of Mappala, why should a royal decree not prevail in a province, if a provincial one had such weight in a hamlet? If you compare the respective roles, you are the owner, he the emperor; if you compare territories, you rule over a country estate, he over a realm; if you compare objectives, his is the healing of division, yours the rending of unity. We could make you pay ten pounds of gold² by imperial command, but we are...

    • 67. To St. Jerome
      (pp. 316-317)

      I have heard that my letter has reached you, but, as I have not deserved an answer, I do not blame this on your lack of love—no doubt there has been something to prevent it. I realize that I must beg the Lord to give you the inclination and opportunity of sending what you write, for He has already given you the ability to write, and, when you wish, you can do it with ease.

      It is a fact that I was not sure whether to believe the report which was brought to me, but I did not doubt...

    • 68. St. Jerome to Augustine
      (pp. 317-320)

      Our holy brother Asterius, the subdeacon, was just on the point of starting out when the letter of your Beatitude reached me, the one in which you make clear that you did not send a book against my lowliness to Rome.¹ I had not heard that you did this, but copies of a certain letter supposedly written to me came to me through our brother Sisinnius, the deacon, and in it you exhort me to sing my palinode² on a certain chapter of the Apostle, and to imitate Stesichorus³ who wavered between abuse and praise of Helen, and who lost...

    • 69. Alypius and Augustine to Bishop Castorius
      (pp. 320-322)

      The enemy of Christians² has contrived to cloud over with dark sadness the sweetness of our joy, which had come to us through the boon of your acquaintance, trying, by means of your brother, our most dear and sweet son, to stir up a dangerous scandal for our Catholic mother, who received us, with loving embrace, into the inheritance of Christ, when we were escaping from the state of the disinherited and the cast-off. But, the ‘Lord, our God, compassionate and merciful,’³ consoling the afflicted, feeding the little ones, curing the sick,⁴ has permitted him to do something so that...

    • 70. Alypius and Augustine to Naucellio
      (pp. 323-324)

      When you had brought us back word what your bishop, Clarentius,² answered about Felician of Musta,³ namely, that he did not deny either that he had been condemned by them or that he had been afterward reinstated in his diocese, but that he claimed that the condemnation was wrong because the condemned was not present—a fact which he had proved—we say this by way of answer, that it was not lawful for anyone to be condemned unheard, even if they who condemned him now declared him innocent. Surely, an innocent man ought not to be condemned, nor should...

    • 71. To St. Jerome
      (pp. 324-328)

      From the time when I began to write to you and to long for your replies, never have I had a better opportunity of sending my letter to you than through this servant and most faithful minister of God, one most dear to me, our son, the deacon Cyprian. Through him I have a strong hope of letters from you, stronger than any hope I could have in matters of this sort. For, this son of ours will not be lacking in eagerness to secure your answer, nor in gratitude to deserve it, nor in care in guarding it, nor...

    • 72. St. Jerome to Augustine
      (pp. 328-332)

      You send me frequent letters, and you often insist that I answer one of your letters, of which, as I wrote you before, copies were brought by the deacon Sisinnius without your signature, and which you say that you sent first by brother Profuturus,¹ and a second time by somebody else. You say that Profuturus was interrupted when about to set out, was made a bishop and was carried off by a speedy death: and the other, whose name you do not mention, was frightened by the perils of the sea and gave up the idea of sailing.² With that...

    • 73. To St. Jerome
      (pp. 332-341)

      Although I think that my letter—the one which I sent by our son, the servant of God, deacon Cyprian—came into your hands before you undertook that one in which you recognized that it was my letter, of which you said copies had reached you, I now feel, from your answer, as if I were beginning to be battered and knocked about, as bold Dares was, by the great, heavy boxing gloves of Entellus;¹ But, I now am answering that same letter of yours which you were so kind as to send me by our holy son, Asterius, in...

    • 74. To Praesidius
      (pp. 341-342)

      Following up what I said in person to your Sincerity, I urge you now again not to fail to send my letter to our holy brother and fellow priest, Jerome. As your Charity knows what an obligation you have to write to him yourself in my behalf, I have sent copies of my letter to him and of his to me, When you have read them, in accordance with your holy prudence, you may easily see both the moderation which I have thought fit to observe, and his irritation which I have good reason to fear. If I have written...

    • 75. St. Jerome to Augustine
      (pp. 342-367)

      I have received at one time through Deacon Cyprian three letters, or, rather, three brief treatises¹ of your Worthiness, containing what you call inquiries, but which I consider criticisms of my works. If I wanted to answer them, it would take a large book. But, I shall try as best I can not to exceed the limits of a rather long letter, and not to delay a brother who is in a hurry to start, but who asked me for letters only three days before his departure. As a result, I am forced to babble something or other, almost in...

    • 76. To the Donatists
      (pp. 368-372)

      To you, Donatists, the Catholic Church says: O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love vanity and seek after lying?¹ Why do you separate yourselves from the unity of the whole world, by the wicked sacrilege of schism? You listen to falsehoods spoken to you by men who either are deliberately lying, or are in error concerning the betrayal of the sacred books, and as a result you will die in your schismatic separation; but you do not listen to what the same sacred texts say to you, so that you...

    • 77. To Felix and Hilarinus
      (pp. 373-374)

      I am not surprised that Satan disturbs the minds of the faithful. But, do you resist him, relying strongly on your hope in the promises of God, who cannot deceive, who has not only deigned to promise us eternal rewards if we believe and hope in Him, and remain faithful to His love unto the end, but who has also warned us that temporal scandals will not be wanting, since by such it is fitting that our faith be tried and proved. He said: ‘Because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold’; but He adds at once:...

    • 78. To the Church of Hippo
      (pp. 375-384)

      I could wish that you might ponder over the Scripture of God with earnest attention, and in such way that you would not need the help of my words in these recent scandals, and that, rather, He who consoles us should console you, too. It is He who has foretold not only the happiness which He is to bestow on His holy and faithful ones, but also the evils of which this world was to be full, and He has had these written down, so that, as surely as we experience the predicted evils which are to precede the end...

    • 79. To a Certain Manichaean Priest
      (pp. 385-386)

      You have no reason to evade, for it is evident from afar what sort of person you are. The brethren have reported to me what they talked about to you. It is a good thing that you do not fear death, but you ought to fear that death which you are bringing upon yourself by uttering such blasphemies against God. As for your understanding that the visible death which all men know is the separation of soul and body, it is no great thing to understand that. But, when you add of your own that the separation is one of...

    • 80. To Paulinus and Therasia
      (pp. 386-389)

      When our dearest brother Celsus¹ was asking for answers to carry, I made haste to pay my debt, but I really hurried; for I thought he had still several days to stay with us, but, when he heard suddenly that a ship was to sail, he told me, when it was already night, that his departure was advanced by a day. What could I do? I could not hold him, since he was hastening to you, where he is much better off; nor should I even if I could. So I seized these few thoughts on the wing and had...

    • 81. St. Jerome to Augustine
      (pp. 389-390)

      When I inquired anxiously of our brother Firmus² how you were, I was glad to hear that you are well. But, when in the next place I was—I do not say hoping, but demanding, letters from you—he said he had left Africa without notifying you. So then, I send you back by him this debt of greeting, embracing you with disinterested love, and at the same time I ask you to pardon my diffidence because I could not refuse you the answer you have so long demanded of me. But it is not I that answer you; it...

    • 82. To St. Jerome
      (pp. 390-420)

      Some time ago, I sent a long letter to your Charity, in answer to that one of yours which you remember that you sent by your holy son, Asterius, now no longer only my brother, but also my colleague.¹ I do not know whether it has deserved to come into your hands, except that you write by our esteemed brother Firmus, that if someone who has first attacked you with a sword is hit back with a pen, I should make it a matter of fairness and justice to blame the accuser, not the defendant.² On this very slight evidence...