Letters, 151-180

Letters, 151-180

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 334
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Letters, 151-180
    Book Description:

    No description available

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1600-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Irven M. Resnick

    This volume concludes the series of Peter Damian’s Letters in English translation. Letters 151–170 were written between 1067 and 1070, in the years before Damian’s death on February 22, 1072. Letters 171–180 are not datable. Several of the Letters in this volume are fragmentary or reconstructed from fragments (Letters 163, 173, and 175) found in the Collectanea of Damian’s disciple, John of Lodi. Letter 178 was discovered in an eleventh-century manuscript and first printed in the twentieth century.

    Among these Letters are some of Damian’s most passionate calls to promote the ideals of the eremitic life, wherein he...

    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    (pp. xix-2)
  7. LETTER 151
    (pp. 3-6)

    To sir rainerius, the illustrious marquis, the monk Peter the sinner sends his greetings.

    (2) For the sins you confessed to me, noble sir, I have enjoined you to travel to Jerusalem, and thus appease divine justice by the penance of this long pilgrimage. But since, according to Scripture, you have no idea what tomorrow will bring,¹ you are putting off this matter until later; and while fearing the uncertainties of the journey, you are not providing for yourself a secure city in which you might live. And so, in your case we see the pronouncement carried out that says:...

  8. LETTER 152
    (pp. 7-14)

    To sir j—,¹ the venerable abbot, the monk Peter the sinner sends the affection of sincere charity.

    (2) With proper gratitude, venerable father, I have received the letter from your holiness, to which, as the subject requires, I here briefly reply. For you are angry with me, and complain that I am accepting your monks into the hermitage contrary to the precepts of our holy father, St. Benedict, who decreed that those who leave some other known monastery should not receive entrance into the houses of strangers.² With all due respect, I can easily overcome the obstacle of this...

  9. LETTER 153
    (pp. 15-71)

    To the venerable abbot lord M., and to the holy community, the monk Peter the sinner sends the obedience of most devoted service.

    (2) Even though it may be impossible for a poor debtor to pay all that he owes, nevertheless to offer what little he has constitutes a release from the debt. Often, indeed, a peasant who has borrowed money lent at interest, who has brought to his creditor a gift of garden vegetables, is then absolved from the signed note of his obligation. And so accordingly I, who owe so much to your kindness, send this poor letter....

  10. LETTER 154
    (pp. 72-75)

    To the most excellent duke and margrave, lord Godfrey,¹ the monk Peter the sinner sends a reprimand of fervent zeal.

    (2) A new and previously unheard rumor concerning you has repeatedly reached us, which has brought us a grief of no small sorrow, has struck the viscera with trembling, has restrained our lips from the customary praise of your glory, and has pierced a broken heart as if with the most profound pain’s sharpest prick. Namely, that you have been in communication with Cadalus,² whom, as you clearly are aware, the universal Church vomited forth not long ago like a...

  11. LETTER 155
    (pp. 76-78)

    To the lord prefect Cencius,¹ the monk P the sinner sends greetings in the Lord.

    (2) Beloved, it is especially terrifying if you who administer an office of such great dignity should lay yourself open sometimes to the sloth of idleness. I hear that many complaints are made against you by those who have cases, because they do not have the influence to obtain the decree of a legal judgment from you. Hear, then, what a wise man should say: “A wise judge will judge his people, and the government of a prudent man will be steady for the land....

  12. LETTER 156
    (pp. 79-83)

    To his lord hildebrand and our dear sweet brother Stephen, indomitable defenders of the Roman Church, the monk Peter the sinner sends his service.

    (2) I entrust to God almighty and to you, who are his members, a complaint concerning our lord pope,³ who distresses my heart with such overwhelming sorrow and provokes the soul of this already aged elder to bitterness. For he took away our book, which, with a great deal of work, I had plucked from the poverty of a destitute, feeble intellect, and embraced, as if an only child, with the arms of a kinsman’s delight,...

  13. LETTER 157
    (pp. 84-87)

    Because i know, brother, that you are not lacking in wisdom, I apply the discipline of correction without fear and free from care. For in Proverbs, Solomon says: “A reproof avails more with a wise man, than a hundred stripes with a fool.”¹ And again: “If you rebuke a wise man, he will understand the discipline.”² Again, he says: “The ear that hears the reproofs of life will abide in the midst of the wise,”³ and then immediately after he adds: “He that rejects the discipline, despises his own soul, but he who yields to reproofs, possesses understanding.”⁴ I am...

  14. LETTER 158
    (pp. 88-93)

    To his nephew Damianus, the monk Peter the sinner sends the affection of paternal love.

    (2) If the God who led his people from Pharaoh’s workhouse had ceased to be their guide in the desert, Israel never would have been able to reach the promised land. It needed a guide for the journey who was the author of their going forth. Therefore [God] had said to Abraham: “Come into the land which I will show to you.”² Because he does not say, “go,” but instead says, “come,” he promises to be a participant in the future journey. And what is...

  15. LETTER 159
    (pp. 94-102)

    To lord abbot Desiderius of the holy way of life and to the religious community, the monk Peter the sinner offers service in the Lord.

    (2) As I learned that lord Martin¹ is undertaking a journey to you, I immediately ordered a scribe to come in next. But seeing that I spent the entire Lenten cycle with you in close familiarity, venerable father, whatever things seemed necessary to discuss we discussed face-to-face, and since we intimated very often what things had to be communicated or treated, I do not understand how anything new could be written to you, when I...

  16. LETTER 160
    (pp. 103-130)

    To my most reverend brother, Hildebrand, the monk Peter the sinner sends the affection of his intimate love.

    (2) Venerable brother, what you and I were recently discussing as we talked together would not, I think, be useless or superfluous if I should put it into writing. For on that occasion I told you, if you have not forgotten, that I was acquainted with a servant of God who, besides the Lenten periods that were established by the Fathers and were prescribed throughout the year for a limited time, privately observed other fasts by which he overcame the enticements of...

  17. LETTER 161
    (pp. 131-141)

    To the holy monks living in the heavenly school of Monte Cassino, the monk Peter the sinner offers his service.

    (2) That the religious observance of Friday, my dear friends, to which your holy resolve has devoted both the abstemiousness of salutary fasting and the discipline of apostolic scourging, has attracted large numbers of people to follow your wholesome example, and has caused them to bring forth vigorous offspring like new olive shoots planted by God, is witnessed not only by the monasteries that rejoice to walk in your footsteps, that is, those of their teachers, but also by a...

  18. LETTER 162
    (pp. 142-158)

    To sir peter, archpriest of the Lateran canons, the monk Peter the sinner in the bond of fraternal charity.

    (2) A lance is only as effective as the strength of a fighting man. For no matter how much care has gone into polishing and sharpening it, if the arm that hurls it is weak, no trophies of victory will be won. But where the soldier is vigorous, even a blunt sword will serve to cut down the foe and win the battle. As you know, even Goliath, who was armed with a mighty sword, not only lost, but was struck...

  19. LETTER 163
    (pp. 159-161)

    “And now i will summon all the families of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord, and they shall come and each shall set up his throne before the gates of Jerusalem, against her walls on every side. I will state my case against them for all the wrong they have done in forsaking me.”¹ Surely, if these words were not meant for others besides the citizens of the earthly Jerusalem, they would not be proclaimed in the holy Church today. Accordingly, who are these families of the kingdoms of the north, if not the great number of evil...

  20. LETTER 164
    (pp. 162-169)

    To his lord, Pope Alexander, the monk Peter the sinner offers his service.

    (2) You have written to tell me that I should write to you; you have directed that I should frequently send you my trifling pages, even though they reflect my lack of culture. Truly, I would rather weep than write; in fact, I should weep the more because I am unable to weep. Consequently, I left the synod over which your holiness presided, then so worn out and drained, with my spirit so burdened with agenda and as unyielding as a rock, that it could neither be...

  21. LETTER 165
    (pp. 170-227)

    As you know, my dear brothers, the venerable hermit Albizo¹ and brother Peter, formerly a rhetorician, but now a philosopher of Christ, it was often my custom to engage you in friendly discussion of the contempt we should feel for this world. You are aware of how I deplored our own imperfection, and also complained about certain brothers in this sacred order who were moving along dangerous paths. The world, in fact, is daily deteriorating into such a worthless condition, that not only has each rank of secular and ecclesiastical society collapsed and fallen from its [former] state, but even...

  22. LETTER 166
    (pp. 228-232)

    To sir stephen the monk, the monk Peter the sinner sends greetings in the Lord.

    (2) As you vigilantly school yourself in studying the psalms and in giving praise to God, I exhort you, venerable brother, and recommend that you also not omit the daily office of the blessed Mary ever virgin. It is surely proper that she, who is worthy to receive honor and praise from the angels, should also be frequently acclaimed by human beings, and that after God the whole world should extol her through whom it received the Author of its salvation. With supreme hope, indeed,...

  23. LETTER 167
    (pp. 233-235)

    To sir alexander, bishop of the highest see, the monk Peter the sinner promises his service.

    (2) That the diocese of Gubbio, which some time ago was committed to my care by your predecessors, is now, sad to say, in total confusion, and is like an abandoned field trodden underfoot, this I consider to have been brought about by my sins and, which God forbid, I do not ascribe to any fault or shortcoming on your part. Indeed, my many sins demand that you should cut me to the quick, even with your own hands, you, in fact, for whom...

  24. LETTER 168
    (pp. 236-243)

    Because i am aware of your holy disposition, venerable father, especially that you rejoice when men are saved, so that when you happen to hear about souls that are making spiritual progress, it is as if you were partaking of the fine foods of an excellent repast.

    (2) I call to your attention our canons, that is, those of the holy church of Velletri, who seemed to be incorrigible despite my frequent attempts and great effort, but who now by God’s grace have come to their senses and follow the practices of the canonical life, not under pressure, but with...

  25. LETTER 169
    (pp. 244-246)

    To the monk John, the monk Peter the sinner sends greetings in the Lord.

    (2) Inasmuch as you are angry with me for wishing to relinquish my episcopal office, and advise me to look to the service I can render, with your leave I will say that you are not viewing the matter with the eyes of the spirit. Because I am surrounded by the darkness of so many secular interests, I am unable to see the brightness of the interior light, and cannot lift my confused and insensible mind to the contemplation of spiritual truths.

    (3) About seven years...

  26. LETTER 170
    (pp. 247-252)

    To the most prudent judge, sir Moricus, the monk Peter the sinner sends greetings in the Lord.

    (2) Since, my dear friend, I am aware of your weakness, and that inwardly you are suffering from a nervous condition, I will forego presenting you with many precepts from Holy Scripture, and, satisfied with a light bundle, will not burden your shoulders with a heavy load. And so that my abbreviated remarks may comply with the topic itself, I shall confine them to the few things that I advise, so that while fearing to weary you with weighty matters, let me also...

  27. LETTER 171
    (pp. 253-254)

    I commend you,² dear brother, to almighty God, and I entrust you to him who created you, so that, when by your dying you have paid the debt to which every man is subject, you may return to your Maker, who formed you from the clay of the earth.³ Then, when your soul goes forth from your body, may the radiant company of angels come to meet you, and may your judge, the senate of the apostles, release you.⁴ May the victorious army of white-robed martyrs greet you, may the glittering throng of confessors, bright as lilies, gather about you....

  28. LETTER 172
    (pp. 255-263)

    To sirs v— and P—, religious clerics of the church of Faenza, the monk Peter the sinner offers the service of his fraternal charity.

    (2) Your brotherly concern has complained to me, that certain people, who are disturbing the regulation of ecclesiastical discipline and, in the words of the prophet, have preferred their own body to God,¹ contract marriage during the season of Lent. But to evade the sentence of the canons, after taking a wife and celebrating marriage, they claim that the one thing lacking was intercourse. Added to your complaint is the more serious fact that some...

  29. LETTER 173
    (pp. 264-266)

    Peter to his dearest son Bucco.

    Your regard for me has led you to inquire whether it is the good or the bad angels by whom almighty God chastises the sins of offenders, and whether he is accustomed to inflict the punishment of sudden death or of some great misfortune. To this there is indeed an easy and obvious response. For if we pay close attention to sacred Scripture, we discover that retribution is administered by both kinds of spirits, just as the supreme Judge disposes.

    (2) But lest my short reply not relate to this important matter, I will...

  30. LETTER 174
    (pp. 267-276)

    To the most reverend bishop, sir V— and to the holy canons of his church, the monk Peter the sinner offers his service.

    (2) In an army that is equipped for battle, horns, clarions, tubas, and war trumpets are carried, so that by their resounding blast the guards on watch around the camp may be alerted, and the fighting men may arm themselves against a hostile night attack. We also, who have sworn to serve in the heavenly army, and have gathered to do battle against the potentates of this world and the superhuman forces of evil,² must arouse one...

  31. LETTER 175
    (pp. 277-278)

    They have hated him who rebuked them in the gate; and have loathed him who speaks the whole truth.”³ And in the next verse the prophet says to them, “You shall build houses of hewn stone, and you shall not live in them.”⁴ He, indeed, rebukes a person in the gate, if he chastises someone for his fault, and, in so doing, prods him on his way to his heavenly homeland. But he who detests the one who has corrected him, does not dwell in the house that he himself had built, since even though he had erected a building...

  32. LETTER 176
    (pp. 279-285)

    To brother g the monk Peter the sinner sends greetings.

    (2) What you have done, brother, appears to be an ominous and portentous thing, and the road you are now following as an inexperienced traveler is impassable. Clearly, at my command, even at my request, and after being promptly elected by the brothers, you accepted the governance of the hermitage, and then, after declaring that you were ill and weak and unequal to assuming such great responsibilities, you rejected the burden that had been placed upon you. But now, created abbot in another monastery, you evidently demonstrate that you are...

  33. LETTER 177
    (pp. 286-288)

    To the devoted priest, sir Ubertus, the monk Peter the sinner expresses his bond of personal charity in the Lord.

    (2) I have no doubt, venerable brother, that your minor questions arise from the fervor of the spiritual zeal that nobly motivates you, but since the bearer of your letter is prepared to return, I find it necessary to prepare only a brief response. This is especially so, because the solution of your problems does not require a lengthy discussion, since all of them are so obvious that anyone who is aware of the norms of the Church, will find...

  34. LETTER 178
    (pp. 289-289)

    To the former abbot, sir A—, the monk Peter the sinner, greetings.¹

    (2) Since your disgraceful deeds, brother, have increased to such an extent that their notoriety has quickly spread among the people, in all justice you were consequently deprived of the office of abbot. But because it was reported to me that you continue to harm the monastery and its monks, and threaten still greater evil, I warn you to desist at once from this madness, and expiate the evil you have done by performing a fitting penance. But if you persist in your obstinacy, and do not...

  35. LETTER 179
    (pp. 290-294)

    To sir g—, a member of the nobility, the monk Peter the sinner offers his service in fraternal charity.

    (2) You have asked me, my dear friend, to send some words of consolation to you by mail, and to sweeten your bitter spirit by supplying you with soothing suggestions in the midst of the many blows that you are suffering. But if your sense of prudence has not been lulled to sleep, consolation is at hand, since your very hardships undoubtedly demonstrate that God is instructing you as his son so that you may receive your [eternal] inheritance. For...

  36. LETTER 180
    (pp. 295-298)

    And yet, there are certain fools who totally deny that our Redeemer was crucified for the salvation and redemption of all people. Accordingly, in a few words let me give them my reply. Because of the wound of original sin, by which through Adam the corrupted nature of all humanity succumbed to the necessity of death, and the disease that involved every type of concupiscence insolently broke its bonds, the death of our Savior occurred as the only true and efficacious remedy. He, indeed, who was free from the necessity of dying, and who, as one uniquely without sin, wished...

    (pp. 301-304)
    (pp. 305-310)