Letters, 121-150

Letters, 121-150

with a preface by KURT REINDEL
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 221
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  • Book Info
    Letters, 121-150
    Book Description:

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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1601-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Kurt Reindel
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Irven M. Resnick

    Letters 121–150, written during the years 1065–71, form the fifth volume in this series. Their number, written over such a brief period, suggests the increasing demands upon Damian for counsel and correction. Once again these letters attest to Damian’s concern for his nephew, Damianus, to whom he addressed Letters 123 and 138. The first of these contains a lengthy exhortation to guard the virtues of monastic life, with a special emphasis on chastity. Damian exhorts him to fortify himself with the frequent reception of the Eucharist, which provides a safeguard against the snares of Satan. Letter 123 also...

    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xx)
    (pp. xxi-2)
  8. LETTER 121
    (pp. 3-9)

    To the archpriests Andrew, U., and C., venerable brothers in Christ, the monk Peter the sinner sends the affection of fraternal love.²

    (2) As I lie in bed oppressed by not just a little weariness, do not wonder that I distribute an undistinguished or unpolished letter of rather tired expression, which another brother took in dictation. Rather,³ because I speak against those who are rustics and untutored (or actually illiterate) it is fitting that I speak to them in a suitably rustic fashion, and heedlessly pour out “whatever pops into the mouth,” as they themselves say. Nevertheless, before I come...

  9. LETTER 122
    (pp. 10-11)

    To lord Alexander, bishop of the highest See, the monk Peter the sinner offers his service.

    (2) Your blessedness should know, venerable father, that the bishop of the church of Orleans came to me here² and, finding me lying down on a small pallet, begged for the aid of my intercession because he hoped that I have some influence over you. Making his escape at last, though not without great tribulation, from the many calamities and pressures that are brought not only upon him but also upon his church by wicked and depraved men, he deduced that the best course,...

  10. LETTER 123
    (pp. 12-20)

    To my dearest son damianus, the monk Peter the sinner offers the affection of paternal love.¹

    (2) Because the carrier of these letters is anxiously preparing to depart, I am not able to write the things that must be sent in a polished, ordered manner of composition, and I want you to consider the sense of what is true rather than to lie in wait for the elegant artificial finery of words. Meanwhile, therefore, as I am unable to be present for a reason known to you, it suffices that I have written to you simply what the Apostle commanded...

  11. LETTER 124
    (pp. 21-25)

    To his lady, the empress agnes, the monk Peter the sinner offers service.

    (2) I think, venerable lady, that because the lord Rainaldus, bishop of the see of Como, the holy woman Ermensinde,² your former relation, and I also, your servant, have departed from you to our own places, your mind now wavers and, just as one deprived of the solace of us all, it deplores the fact that it has remained alone. Perhaps the severity of very long silence is a burden, and it is tedious now that the presence of others for conversation is wanting, whom often, when...

  12. LETTER 125
    (pp. 26-26)

    Your] holiness concluded that he has been utterly obliterated, or, if I may put it this way, scraped clean from the most intimate wax tablets of my breast. Rather, there are those who dwell with me in service to Christ and who assemble with me for his love who witness how often your name is in my mouth with benediction, and how often I celebrate in public your angelic community.

    (2) In addition, I ask your holiness’s compassion for this youth, namely, my sister’s child, to provide for him from your paternal piety both a teacher and sustenance and, receiving...

  13. LETTER 126
    (pp. 27-39)

    To alberic, venerable brother, the monk Peter the sinner, greetings in the Lord.

    (2) The old history records that when the sons of Joseph, namely, Ephraim and Manasseh, demanded more extensive lands for their possession they received this response from Joshua, commanding them to cross over the mountains, to clear the dense growth of the forests, and in this way to obtain by their own hands a larger lot for themselves.² Moreover, a little later he said to the seven tribes, “How long are you indolent and slack and do not go in to take possession of the land that...

  14. LETTER 127
    (pp. 40-44)

    To my dear brother alberic, the monk Peter the sinner sends greetings.

    (2) You tell me, my dear friend, that you are not sure why the writings, not only of the Old Testament, but also of a great many of the doctors of the Church assert that a man matures for ten months in his mother’s womb, but do not say that he comes forth in nine months. Lest I go too far afield, it will suffice for me to cite just one text. For Solomon says in the book of Wisdom, “I too am a mortal man like all...

  15. LETTER 128
    (pp. 45-48)

    To the brothers, sir Ambrosius and Liupardus, the monk Peter the sinner, in the bond of undivided charity.

    (2) Let us give thanks to God, the author of all goodwill, who inflamed your hearts with the fire of such a noble spirit, that while alive you should never wish to live outside the hermitage, nor in death to be buried away from it. Since long ago, moreover, he persuaded the minds of the people of Israel to exchange the horrid conditions of a barren desert for the fertile fields of Goshen, endowed with the beauty of abundant grass,¹ he also...

  16. LETTER 129
    (pp. 49-52)

    To the holy brethren Rodulfus,¹ Vitalis, and Arialdus,² and to Erlembaldus³ and the others fighting with insuperable faith for the forces of Christ, the monk Peter the sinner sends greetings in Christ.

    (2) I give thanks to almighty God, my dear friends, that as news of your deeds has spread, I often hear that you have persisted in the holy enthusiasm that was given you by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and have fought with unceasing fervor against the enemies of ecclesiastical discipline.

    (3) For the evil forger never stops building his cursed workshop within the confines of the...

  17. LETTER 130
    (pp. 53-54)

    To his lady, the empress agnes, the monk Peter the sinner offers the attention of a servant.

    (2) Because I am at such a distance from you, and find it impossible to be with you at this time, I am indeed filled with sorrow and daily lament your absence. In the meantime, however, before I can again visit you, I advise you to be patient and not find it burdensome to bear the harshness and difficulties that come your way, and out of love for the heavenly Bridegroom, to put up with solitude or even with the absence of necessary...

  18. LETTER 131
    (pp. 55-56)

    To sir m—, the venerable abbot of the monastery of St. Mary in Constantinople,¹ and to the other brothers, the monk Peter the sinner sends greetings in the Lord.

    (2) Let us rejoice, my dear brothers, because while living among foreigners in a land speaking an alien tongue, you have not, as I learned from reports that came my way, been exiled from the Catholic faith and good works. Therefore, “as fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household,”² you are not abandoning your own home, so long as you live within the confines of the holy...

  19. LETTER 132
    (pp. 57-72)

    The monk peter the sinner to the boy Marinus, greetings in the Lord.

    (2) The raw recruit is easily defeated in his first taste of combat in battle, unless he uses beforehand the good offices of the drillmaster and is carefully instructed. You, too, who only recently swore your oath and joined the army of God, who in professing this holy purpose enrolled in the junior auxiliary of the armed forces, know that in preparing yourself for service in spiritual combat, you need to be more fully trained, in that you have engaged to do battle in a heavenly division...

  20. LETTER 133
    (pp. 73-75)

    To the holy brethren living in the hermitage, the monk Peter the sinner sends his greetings.

    (2) The rule of discretion is properly observed in a community of spiritual brothers, if the guidance the prior provides imitates the attention he gives a horse. It is obvious that he uses the spur to urge it on, the reins to hold it back. He goads on the horse that is moving too slowly, and curbs one that is prancing and proudly neighing. Similarly, the superior of the brothers must both urge on the sluggish by using words of exhortation to stimulate them,...

  21. LETTER 134
    (pp. 76-76)

    To all the brothers living in each of the hermitages under the care of my administration, the monk Peter the sinner assures you of the bond of his love for all.

    (2) You know, my dear brothers, that these houses that have been committed to me, are as one while I am alive, and that whatever things are needed pass indiscriminately to you from this house, and are also brought by you to this hermitage as fraternal harmony demands. And I beg the Holy Spirit that after I am dead, the same harmony flourish among you that now by the...

  22. LETTER 135
    (pp. 77-83)

    When a man has married a wife, and has had her, but she does not win his favor because he finds something shameful in her, he shall write a bill of divorce, give it to her, and dismiss her.”¹ Therefore, would that this wife of ours, namely, the life of our body, never find favor with us, but as is proper, let its abhorrent filth always offend the sensibilities of our minds. Once she has accepted the bill of divorce according to the law of penance, may she be so finally dismissed from the confines of our marriage, that she...

  23. LETTER 136
    (pp. 84-89)

    As men journeyed in the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said one to another: ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them hard’; they used bricks for stone and bitumen for mortar.”¹ Indeed, since Christ is truly the East,² as the prophet attests when he says, “Here is a man whose name is the East,”³ those come from the east who by an evil life or by abusing their neighbors leave the company of Christ. Now Shinar may be said to mean “tearing out the teeth” or “their offensive odor.”⁴...

  24. LETTER 137
    (pp. 90-96)

    To the holy brethren living in the hermitage of Gamugno, the monk Peter the sinner sends the kiss of peace in the Holy Spirit.

    (2) Managers of rentbearing estates or stewards of lands, while making every effort to please their lords, do not permit the fixed rates to be reduced during the period of their tenure. I too, to whom the guardianship, not just of sundry physical things, but of your souls was committed, would be very much afraid if the return on your crops that should be brought to the Lord’s barns were lessened while I was in charge,...

  25. LETTER 138
    (pp. 97-101)

    To his dear brother, sir Damianus, the monk Peter the sinner, his unworthy servant and son.

    (2) I want you to know, my dear father and lord in Christ, that my spirit is constantly afflicted with sorrow as I carefully watch the day of my death coming ever closer, and appearing before my eyes as if it were present. For while I count the long years, and notice that my hair is turning white, and become aware that in whatever group of people I find myself, almost all are younger than I am, I put aside all my concerns and...

  26. LETTER 139
    (pp. 102-102)

    To my dear brother, sir Tebaldus, and to the other brothers, the monk Peter the sinner offers the ministry of his proper service.

    (2) My dear brothers, in the austere mode of life you are leading, you are, no doubt, influenced by the fervor of the Holy Spirit. But it is necessary that by the good offices of the same Spirit discretion curb the headlong course that in all goodwill you propose to follow. For almighty God, who rides and directs the rational soul, uses both reins and whips; by reins, indeed, he restrains those who are excessively nimble lest...

  27. LETTER 140
    (pp. 103-111)

    To sir alexander, the bishop of the highest See, the monk Peter the sinner offers his service.

    (2) Just as the loss of any household property is brought to the attention of the head of the family, it is also proper that harm suffered by the Church be referred to the supreme pontiff. For, as the former, with all the force available to him, is prepared to resist the evils attacking his home, so too will the latter restore the foundations of a tottering faith, or even of the religious state that has begun to crumble.

    (3) Unfortunately, in our...

  28. LETTER 141
    (pp. 112-126)

    To the dear brothers in Christ, the chaplains of Duke Godfrey, the monk Peter the sinner sends his greetings.

    (2) When I am writing something that I especially wish to preserve, surrounded by an extensive library of various volumes, I call to mind the opinions of the masters, and always resort, when necessary, to their works. But now that I find myself high amid the snowy crags of this mountain, and am eager to erect the structure of this monastic building, I am not only unable to pore over the pages of books that are not at hand, but am...

  29. LETTER 142
    (pp. 127-142)

    To the brethren in the hermitage of Gamugna, Peter, sinner and monk, greetings.

    (2) “A wise son,” says Solomon, “makes his father glad. But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.”² Again he says, “A son who fills the granaries in summer is a credit; a son who slumbers during harvest, a disgrace.”³ Why I say these things, I will explain in what follows. A man, traveling from Milan on his way to visit me, passed your monastery. As he himself told me, he sought in my name to obtain lodging with you. Worn out by his travels,...

  30. LETTER 143
    (pp. 143-147)

    To the eminent countess guilla, the monk Peter the sinner promises his earnest prayers.

    (2) Since it is better to be undisputedly ignorant of a matter over which conflict might arise, than always struggling to forget it, it is safer for me to converse in writing with young women in whose presence I am apprehensive. Certainly, I who am already an old man can licitly and securely look at the face of an old woman lined with wrinkles, whose features are moist with the rheum from her watering eyes; but like boys from the fire I guard my eyes at...

  31. LETTER 144
    (pp. 148-149)

    To his lady, the empress agnes, the monk Peter the sinner offers his service.

    (2) I can hardly tell you how distressed I am, as in dreadful suspense I daily await the joy of your return. What a fool I was, and why in my stupidity and lack of wit did I ever agree to your journey? And what is more, why did I not use force to oppose your departure? Why, in fact, did I not snatch the horses’ reins, and so far as that was permissible, prevent your leaving even with my bare hands? Indeed, after you were...

  32. LETTER 145
    (pp. 150-154)

    To sir cencius, prefect of the city of Rome, the monk Peter the sinner sends greetings.

    (2) Just as praise for one’s own achievements causes vain men to glow with pride, it incites in the good and sensible the grace of deeper humility. In fact, the latter are more properly challenged to increase their good works as they hear applause for the virtuous gifts that have been granted them. Only yesterday, at the prompting of God’s goodness as I was preaching to the people in the church of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, on the feast of the...

  33. LETTER 146
    (pp. 155-166)

    To the beloved in christ, the citizens of Florence, the monk Peter the sinner sends his service of fraternal charity.

    (2) Recently, my dear friends, if you recall, I visited you and with great effort tried to compose the differences between you and your bishop, and restoring the bonds of friendship that had been broken, to promote harmony among you as a mediator of peace. But as I put forward many ideas, helpful to you in respect to the aforesaid bishop, but which were thwarted by unfavorable interpretation, and fared badly at the hands of unruly crowds, lest my reputation...

  34. LETTER 147
    (pp. 167-168)

    To my holy and revered brothers and sons, the clergy and people of the church of Faenza, the monk Peter the sinner sends greetings in the Lord.

    (2) When I learned of the death of sir Peter, your bishop of blessed memory, my spirit was suddenly disturbed, I was amazed at this unexpected turn of events, and my whole being was overwhelmed with grief and fraternal compassion. Yet, my son, the venerable abbot¹ whom you sent to me, found me in such a state of depression, not only because of recent illness, but also from certain difficulties I had experienced,²...

  35. LETTER 148
    (pp. 169-170)

    To sir godfrey, the marquis and duke, and to her highness Beatrice, his wife, the monk Peter the sinner sends his prayers.

    (2) This son of mine, the venerable abbot of the monastery of St. John the Baptist, purchased a biblical lectionary,¹ but because of his poverty he was unable to pay for it, and was compelled by necessity to beg me to give him the money. Since, however, I am presently unable to help him, I take the liberty of soliciting others, so that since he did not receive assistance from “us wealthy bishops,” he might at least find...

  36. LETTER 149
    (pp. 171-180)

    To the empress agnes, the monk Peter the sinner sends his service.¹

    (2) As I daily grieve over your absence, I experience new sorrow that I am not myself, and what is more, that I am thoroughly disheartened. For where my treasure is, there will my heart be also.² For my treasure is undoubtedly Christ, and since I know that he is hidden in the temple of your heart, I think of you as the depository of heavenly fortune. And so, wherever you go, I never leave your side.

    (3) But since in leaving us, you would never, I might...

  37. LETTER 150
    (pp. 181-184)

    To sir baroncius,¹ my dear brother, the monk Peter the sinner sends the affection of fraternal charity.

    (2) What I often emphasized when I was with you, I now write to you in my absence, and lest it get away like something floating by, I attach this slender cord of my writing. The point is this: in your unrestrained charity you should never agree to discharge the penance of someone who is strong and healthy. But if you do take this upon yourself, be sure to fulfill the obligation as quickly as you can. Moreover, since the canons forbid a...

    (pp. 187-190)
    (pp. 191-195)