Letters, Volume 5 (204–270) (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 32)

Letters, Volume 5 (204–270) (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 32)

Translated by SISTER WILFRID PARSONS
Copyright Date: 1956
Pages: 334
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32b3qb
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  • Book Info
    Letters, Volume 5 (204–270) (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 32)
    Book Description:

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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1132-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    The Remaining letters (204-270) of St. Augustine with which this volume concludes, form an unassorted group, not so theologically technical in tone and more likely to interest the general reader. The last dated letter is No. 231, and the remainder of the collection comprises those for which no reliable date can be assigned.

    Letters 204-231 show an Augustine still fighting a sharp battle with heresy, dealing the death blow to Donatism, repulsing the rear-guard action of Pelagianism, and sometimes defending himself against his own ecclesiastical brethren by whom his arguments on grace, free will, and predestination were not always favorably...

  4. Letter
    • 204 To Dulcitius
      (pp. 3-8)

      I must not make light of the request in which you showed your desire to be instructed by me on how you should answer heretics whose salvation, in the mercy of the Lord, is the constant preoccupation of your zeal. Although great numbers of them understand the benefit² conferred on them, which gives us the greatest pleasure, some of them, ungrateful to God. and men, goaded on by a wretched fury, think to frighten us by their acts of self-destruction—when they cannot decimate us by their murders—seeking either joy for themselves by our deaths or sadness for us...

    • 205 To Consentius
      (pp. 8-21)

      There are some whom we see with our bodily eyes but do not know, because their life and aims are unknown to us; there are some whom we know but do not see, whose charity and affection are known to us, and among these we count you. For that reason we greatly long to see you that you may be among those whom we both see and know. For those who, though unknown, are presented to our eyes are not only undesirable but even scarcely endurable, unless the beauty of the inward man appears in them by some outward signs....

    • 206 To Valerius
      (pp. 21-22)

      Whenever people ask me to recommend them to your kindness and protection, I feel that I am making a wrong judgment of your compassion toward those in need of help and of your kindness toward us, if I do not do so. Therefore, I do it most readily for the ministers of Christ who have charge of the Church of which I rejoice that you are a co-heir and son, and I do not hesitate to recommend them to your Excellency, deservedly distinguished and eminent lord, and very dear son in Christ. Consequently, when my holy brother and fellow bishop,...

    • 207 To Bishop Claudius
      (pp. 22-23)

      In the ardor of your brotherly zeal for me, you sent me, of your own accord, without my asking you, the four books of Julian² which he has written against one of mine, so I have thought that I could do nothing more appropriate than to let you read first the answer³ I made so that you may judge whether I have answered him correctly and appositely. Someone or other had written to the noble and God-fearing man, Count Valerius, some extracts from these four books against that same book of mine, which he knew that I had written for...

    • 208 To Felicia
      (pp. 24-28)

      I do not doubt that your mind has been troubled because of your own faith and the weakness or wickedness of others, although the Apostle, filled with the marrow of charity, confesses and says: ‘Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is scandalized and I am not on fire?’² For this reason, being distressed and anxious for your salvation which is in Christ, I have thought it advisable to send your Holiness this letter of consolation or exhortation, since you have become very close to me in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ which is His Church...

    • 209 To Pope Celestine
      (pp. 29-35)

      First of all, I offer you the congratulations due to your merits, since the Lord our God has set you on the chair of Peter, as we have heard, with no dissension among His people. In the next place, I make known to your Holiness the state of affairs among us that you may help us, not only by your prayers for us, but also by your counsel and support. I am writing this to your Blessedness in a state of great affliction, because through a lack of foresight and caution I have brought about a great disaster to certain...

    • 210 To Mother Felicitas
      (pp. 36-38)

      ‘The Lord is good,’³ and His mercy which extends everywhere comforts us with your love in Him. He shows us most convincingly how much He loves those who believe and hope in Him and who love both Him and each other in Him, and how great a reward He has in store for them in the future life, by threatening eternal fire in company with the Devil to the unbelieving, the unhoping, those who are set in an evil will and who persist in it to the end. In this world, however, He lavishes good gifts on them ‘who maketh...

    • 211 To a convent of consecrated virgins
      (pp. 38-51)

      As severity is ready to punish the sins which it discovers, so charity does not wish to discover anything to punish. That was the reason which kept me from coming to you when you were expecting my presence, which would not have been a joy added to your peace, but an increase of your strife. For how could I have overlooked your quarrel or left it unpunished if it had burst out in my presence as violently as it did in my absence; when it was not visible to my eyes, yet assailed my ears with your clamor? Perhaps your...

    • 212 To Bishop Quintilian
      (pp. 51-52)

      I commend to your Reverence in Christ the honorable servants of God, chosen members of Christ, Galla, a widow living under a religious rule, and her daughter, Simpliciola, a consecrated virgin, inferior to her mother in age but superior to her in holiness, whom I have nourished with the word of God as best I could. By this letter, as by my own hand, I entrust them to you to be consoled and helped in every way, according as their interest or necessity requires. I have no doubt that your Holiness would do this without my recommendation. If we are...

    • 213 Excerpts from Augustine’s remarks at the selection of Eraclius as bishop
      (pp. 52-57)

      On the 26th day of September, in the 12th consulship of the most glorious Theodosius and the 2nd of Valentinian Augustus, after Bishop Augustine had seated himself on his throne in the Basilica of Peace, attended by his brother bishops, Religianus and Martinianus, in the presence of Saturninus, Leporius, Barnabas, Fortunatianus, Rusticus, Lazarus, and Eraclius, his priests, as well as of the accompanying clerics and a large crowd of people, Bishop Augustine spoke thus: ‘Yesterday I made a promise to your Charity because I wished you to be here in large numbers; I see that you are here in large...

    • 214 To Valentine
      (pp. 57-62)

      Two young men, Cresconius and Felix, have come to us, declaring that they are members of your community, and bringing us word that your monastery is somewhat disturbed by a difference of opinion, because some among you extol grace so much that they deny man’s free will, and, what is more serious, they say that in the Day of Judgment God will not render to every man according to his works.² However, they have also made known that many of you do not hold this opinion, but confess that our free will is aided by the grace of God to...

    • 215 To Valentine
      (pp. 62-68)

      Your Charity knows that Cresconius, Felix, and another Felix, servants of God, who came to us from your community, spent Easter with us. We kept them somewhat longer so that they might return to you better equipped to oppose the new Pelagian heretics. Their error entraps anyone who believes that the grace of God, through which alone man is saved by our Lord Jesus Christ, is given according to human merits. But, besides that, it is no less an error to think that, when the Lord shall come to judgment, man, who throughout life had the power of choice in...

    • 216 To Valentine
      (pp. 68-73)

      We received the revered writings and the book from your Holiness with such heartfelt awe that we imitated blessed Elias when he stood at the entrance to the cave and veiled his face as the glory of the Lord passed by.¹ So we, too, being abashed, covered our eyes because we blushed at the judgment made of us on account of the uncouthness of our brothers, and we shrank from sending greetings to your Beatitude at the time of their irregular journey, because there ‘is a time to speak and a time to keep silence,’² lest, if we sent a...

    • 216A To Valentine
      (pp. 74-74)

      I give sincere thanks to your Charity for having sent brother Florus² in response to my desire, and I give even more heartfelt thanks to our God because I have found him just as I had hoped he would be. It may seem, perhaps, that he has been rather slow in returning to you, but his stay with me was shorter than I could have wished. As a matter of fact, while he was here I had a wretched illness for so many days that I could not enjoy his company, my cherished lord and brother worthy to be embraced...

    • 217 To Vitalis
      (pp. 75-96)

      Having received bad news about you, I have asked God, and, until I receive good news, I keep on asking Him that you may not scorn my letter but may read it for your own profit. If He hears this prayer of mine for you, He will also give me reason for offering thanks for you. If I win my request, you undoubtedly agree with this beginning of my letter. What I ask for you is that you may have the right faith. If you are not displeased that we make this prayer for those dear to us, if you...

    • 218 To Palatinus
      (pp. 96-99)

      Your stronger and more fruitful intercourse with the Lord our God has brought us great joy. You have chosen his instruction from youth that you may find wisdom unto your grey hairs.² ‘For the understanding of a man is grey hairs and a spotless life is old age.’³ May the Lord grant you this as you ask, seek and knock, who knows how to give good gifts to His children.⁴ Although advisers and advice are yours in plenty, to bring you to the way of salvation and of eternal glory, and although the grace itself of Christ has spoken to...

    • 219 Augustine and others to Proculus and Cillenius
      (pp. 99-102)

      Our son, Leporius,³ who had been deservedly and properly disciplined by your Holiness for his presumptuous error, came to us after he had been expelled by you, and, finding him wholesomely troubled, we have taken him in with the intention of setting him right and healing him. For, as you have obeyed the Apostle by ‘rebuking the unquiet,’ so have we by ‘comforting the feeble-minded and supporting the weak.’⁴ When ‘a man is overtaken in any fault,’⁵ and that no slight one, and one concerning the only-begotten Son of God, because, ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word...

    • 220 To Count Boniface
      (pp. 102-111)

      Up to the present I have not been able to find a more trustworthy man to carry my letter, or one who had readier access to your presence, than the servant and minister of Christ whom the Lord has now provided, the deacon Paul, a man very dear to both of us. Thus I am able to say something to you, not about the power and position which you hold in this evil age, nor about the well-being of your corruptible and mortal body—because that is a passing thing and it is always uncertain how long it will last—but about...

    • 221 Quodvultdeus to Augustine
      (pp. 112-114)

      For a long time I was afraid and I kept putting off to another time this daring act of mine, but the thing that chiefly spurred me on, as they say, was the kindness of your Beatitude, so universally displayed. Considering that I was even more afraid that the Lord might judge me proud for not asking, indolent for not seeking, and slothful for not knocking, I might have believed that my will was sufficient for me up to a certain point, if I had not been able to attain my object, but since I know for certain that heavenly...

    • 222 To Quodvultdeus
      (pp. 114-116)

      I have received the letter of your Charity in which you expressed a lively wish that I should write a compendium of all the heresies which have spawned against the teaching of the Lord our Saviour from the time of His coming, and I am taking advantage of an opportunity offered by my son Philocalus, a leading citizen of Hippo, to answer almost at once, explaining what a difficult task that is. I am using this present opportunity to write again and to explain briefly the difficulty of the task.

      A certain Philastrius,¹ Bishop of Brescia, whom I myself saw...

    • 223 Quodvultdeus to Augustine
      (pp. 116-117)

      I have received one communication from your Reverence, the one you were so kind as to send by the cleric, but the one which your Beatitude said had been sent previously through the honorable Philocalus has not yet reached me. Although I have always been conscious of my own sins, I now recognize clearly that, when it is a case of gaining the favor which I asked, my character is a hindrance to the whole Church. But I firmly trust that He who deigned to blot out the sins of the human race by the grace of His only Son...

    • 224 To Quodvultdeus
      (pp. 117-119)

      An opportunity of writing to you has presented itself, thanks to a priest from Fussala,¹ whom I recommend to your Charity, and I have reviewed your letter in which you ask me to write something on the heresies which have contrived to break out from the time of the announcement of the Lord’s coming in the flesh. I have tried to examine whether I ought to undertake the actual work now and send you an excerpt from it to show you that your wish to have it short adds greatly to its difficulty. But I was not able to do...

    • 225 Prosper of Acquitaine to Augustine
      (pp. 119-129)

      Although I am not personally acquainted with you, I am known to you to some extent, if you remember, in mind and speech, for I have sent and received letters through my holy brother, the deacon Leontius. Now, however, I take the liberty of writing to your Blessedness, not only for the pleasure of greeting you as I did then, but because of my zeal for the faith by which the Church lives. Knowing that your watchful care is ever on guard to protect all the members of the body of Christ against the snares of heretical doctrines, and ever...

    • 226 Hilary to Augustine
      (pp. 129-139)

      The researches of learned men are generally acceptable to opponents when their own objections fail, because by them they also learn things which it is not dangerous not to know, but I think the care we have devoted to our report will be still more acceptable, and although it points out things mentioned by certain men which are contrary to the truth, it contents itself, on the advice of your Holiness, with taking precautions against them, not so much for its own sake as for the sake of those who are both the disturbers and the disturbed, most saintly lord,...

    • 227 To Bishop Alypius
      (pp. 139-141)

      Brother Paul² has arrived safe; he reports a favorable turn in his affairs; the Lord will grant that this may be the end of it. He gives you cordial greetings and tells us the glad news that Gavinianus³ has won that case of his by the mercy of God, and not only has become a Christian but a very good one. He was baptized last Easter, and professed with heart and mouth⁴ the grace which he received. How can I tell you how much I long to see him? But you know how much I love him. Dioscorus,⁵ the chief...

    • 228 To Bishop Honoratus
      (pp. 141-151)

      By sending your Charity a copy of the letter which I wrote to brother Quodvultdeus² I thought I had discharged the obligation laid upon me when you asked my advice on the course of conduct you ought to pursue in the midst of the dangers which our times have brought upon us. Although I wrote briefly, I think I did not leave anything out of that letter which could serve as an answer to a query or a reply to a question. As a matter of fact, I said that those who wish and are able to move into fortified...

    • 229 To Darius
      (pp. 152-153)

      I have heard of your character and high rank from holy brothers and fellow bishops, Urban² and Novatus,³ one of whom had the good fortune to meet you in the town of Hilaris⁴ near Carthage, and also recently at Sicca; the other, at Sitifis. They have made it possible for me to consider you as no stranger. The fact that I am not permitted to speak to you face to face, owing to my physical weakness and the dual cold of winter and of age, has not prevented me from seeing you, for the latter of these friends was kind...

    • 230 Darius to Augustine
      (pp. 153-158)

      How I wish, my lord and holy father, that as my name has been carried to your ears and those of your fellow bishops, Urban and Novatus, by the favoring help of God, as you say, so the God of all, your God, would set me before your hands and eyes, not that the finer file of your judgment might show me greater than I am or even such as the flattering speech and commendatory letters of such eminent men had made me, but rather that I might savor from your mouth the true and immortal fruits of your wisdom,...

    • 231 To Darius
      (pp. 158-165)

      You wanted my answer to be a sign that your letter had given me pleasure. See, I am answering; yet I cannot make my answer a sign of that, either in this or in any other letter, whether I write briefly or at great length, for neither in few words nor in many is it possible to signify what cannot be signified in words. Indeed, even in saying much I express myself inadequately, but I do not admit that any man, be he ever so eloquent, could express in a letter of whatever kind or length the feeling which your...

    • 231A To Firmus
      (pp. 165-167)

      I am sending, as I promised, the books of the City of God which you have been anxiously demanding of me. I have revised them, as your brother, my son Cyprian,³ has insisted on my doing, with God's help, of course, but his insistence has not been displeasing to me.

      There are twenty-two fascicles, which are a good many to reduce to one volume. And if you want it done in two volumes, they should be divided so that one has ten books; the other, twelve. For in the first ten there is a refutation of the vain pretensions of...

    • 232 To the citizens of Madaura
      (pp. 167-173)

      If by any chance it is those among you who are Catholic Christians who have written me a letter of this kind, I only wonder that they sent it to me under the name of their office⁴ rather than their own. But if, as a matter of fact, all or almost all of you, members of the town council, have condescended to write to me, I am surprised at your addressing me as ‘Father,’ and giving me ‘greeting in the Lord,’ for I note with deep grief of heart your superstitious worship of idols, idols against which it is easier...

    • 233 To Longinianus
      (pp. 173-175)

      They say that among the ancients who were convinced that they should desire nothing so much as to be good men, a certain one said that for these what remained to learn was easy. This statement—Socratic, if my memory serves me—was expressed in prophetic form long before, teaching men briefly and completely not only to aim at goodness, but also how they might become good: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,’ it says, ‘with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind,’² and ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’³ Whoever was convinced...

    • 234 Longinianus to Augustine
      (pp. 175-177)

      That you have considered me worthy of being overwhelmed by the honor of your divine address has made me happy and has now illumined me with the pure light of your brilliant virtue. But, estimable lord, by your inquiries and by expressing such thoughts just at this time in terms of my opinion, that is, the opinion of a pagan, you lay on me a heavy burden and a particularly difficult task of answering you. It is true there is an abundance of questions, either on what has been partly agreed on between us up to this time, or on...

    • 235 To Longinianus
      (pp. 177-179)

      My letter bore fruit in the reply of your Benevolence. I see from it that there has arisen between us the beginning of a fine crop of argument on a matter of great importance. That was the first thing I wanted and God will help me to the second which I still want, namely, that this beginning may be concluded by a due and profitable end. Moreover, I make no difficulty about attributing to the natural disposition of a pagan mind your thought that you should not pronounce for or against Christ without reasonable ground. I shall certainly not say...

    • 236 To Bishop Deuterius
      (pp. 179-181)

      I think the best thing I can do is to write directly to your Holiness, so that my negligence may not allow the Enemy to lay waste the flock of Jesus Christ in your province, for he never ceases to lay snares to destroy the souls bought at so dear a price. It has come to my knowledge that a certain Victorinus, a subdeacon of Malliana,² is a Manichaean, and that he hides his sacrilegious error under the name of cleric. He is also a man of advanced age. He was so well known that I questioned him before he...

    • 237 To Bishop Ceretius
      (pp. 182-189)

      It seems to me, after reading the letter your Holiness sent me, that Argyrius has gone headlong over to the Priscillianists,² either unwittingly, that is, not knowing at all whether they are Priscillianists, or as one entangled in the nets of that heresy. I have no doubt that those Scriptures are a Priscillianist version. I could scarcely find a minute, with one emergency after another coming upon me without intermission, but at least one of those two volumes was read to me in its entirety. The other one has gone astray somehow or other and the most careful search among...

    • 238 To Pascentius
      (pp. 190-209)

      At your request and insistence—may you kindly remember it—nay, rather, at your command, which accords more with your age and rank, I had wished to confer with you, face to face, about the Christian faith, as far as the Lord might grant me the ability. But as you disavowed after lunch what had been agreed between us in the morning, namely, that our words be taken down by secretaries, so that you might not say afterward, what I hear that you do not fail to say, that I had not dared to declare my faith to you, receive...

    • 239 To Pascentius
      (pp. 210-212)

      If you say that you have declared your belief to me and that I have refused to declare my belief to you, as I hear you do not refrain from saying, reflect, I beg of you, how untrue both statements are. For you have not been willing to declare your belief to me and I have not refused to declare my belief to you, but I wished to state it in such form that no one could say that I had either said something I had not said, or had not said what I did say. You would have stated...

    • 240 Pascentius to Augustine
      (pp. 212-212)

      I had hoped that you, my dearest brother, would give up the pattern of your former error, and now I marvel that you still persist in it, as the letter which you sent me proclaims. For your Worthiness is like a thirsty man, parched with great heat, who finds muddy water and wallows in it, but if he finds clear, cool water and drinks it, it does not do him much good, because his heart and soul are covered with mud. Finally—I say it with all due respect to you—the pattern of your Excellency’s belief is like a...

    • 241 To Pascentius
      (pp. 213-214)

      Your letter can neither stir me to return your abuse nor keep me from replying. What you wrote would trouble me if it proceeded from the truth of God instead of from the power of man. You said that my pattern of belief ‘is a tree, bent and knotted, with nothing straight about it, an offense to the sight of the eyes.’ What would you say against me if I had gone back on the agreement we had made together in the morning, and in a very easy subject and one to my liking had set up a bent rebuttal...

    • 242 To Elpidius
      (pp. 215-219)

      That is another question which one of us is wrong in his belief and understanding of the Trinity. I am very grateful to you for trying to reclaim me from error because you think I am wrong, although you have never met me. May God reward your kindness in this and grant you to know what you think you do know, for it is a difficult matter, as I see it. And I ask you not to think I am demeaning you when I ask for you this great gift of understanding, for I fear that a presumption of supposed...

    • 243 To Laetus
      (pp. 219-227)

      I have read the letter which you sent to the brethren, in which you indicated that you would like a letter from me, and I long to comfort you because your apprenticeship² is being assailed by many temptations. I grieved for you, brother, and I could not refrain from writing, nor could I refuse to satisfy your desire as well as my own, because I saw that I owed it to you as a duty of charity. If, then, you claim to be a recruit of Christ, do not leave the camp in which you have to build that tower³...

    • 244 To Crisimus
      (pp. 227-228)

      A rumor has reached me—God grant it may not be so!—that you are greatly troubled in mind and I marvel much that a Christian soul like your Prudence should make so little of the thought that the state of earthly affairs cannot possibly weigh in the balance against the heavenly destiny on which our heart and hope should be fixed. Man of wisdom, surely your whole good was not in those things which you now see lost to you! Or did you fancy them so great a good that their loss darkens your mind with excessive sadness, as...

    • 245 To Possidius
      (pp. 229-230)

      You had better consider what to do with those who refuse to submit than how to prove to them that what they are doing is not allowable. But the letter of your Holiness has found me exceedingly busy and at the same time the very early return of the bearer has allowed me neither to fail to reply nor to answer properly those points on which you consulted me. Still, I should not like you to make any impulsive regulation forbidding the use of jewelry or fine clothing, except that those who are neither married nor desirous of being married...

    • 246 To Lampadius
      (pp. 230-232)

      On the problem of fate and chance with which your mind is deeply troubled, as I noticed when I was with you, and now have more certain and satisfactory assurance in your letter, I ought to write you a book as an answer. But the Lord will grant me to explain it to you in a way suitable to you and to the safeguarding of your faith; for it is no slight evil to be led by perverted opinions, not only to commit sin under the enticement of pleasure, but also to excuse it and thereby turn away from the...

    • 247 To Romulus
      (pp. 232-236)

      Truth is both sweet and bitter. When it is sweet it spares us; when it is bitter it cures us. If you do not refuse the draught which I offer in this letter, you will prove the truth of what I say. I pray that whatever insults you heap on me may do you no harm as they do me none, and that the injustice which you do to the wretched and the poor may do you as much harm as it does to your victims. They work for time only, but look what treasure you are heaping up ‘against...

    • 248 To Sebastian
      (pp. 236-237)

      Although the sweet bond of charity does not in any way allow you to be absent from my mind, and I reflect unceasingly on your holy conduct and conversation, you have done a good deed and I thank you for having raised our spirits appreciably by sending us written assurances of your bodily welfare. But I felt in your letter that disgust has seized upon you because of sinners forsaking the law of God,² for you live in the spirit of which it is written: ‘I beheld the transgressors and I pined away.’³ That is a holy sadness and, if...

    • 249 To Restitutus
      (pp. 238-239)

      Brother Deogratias,² a faithful friend, has made known to me the ardor which betrays the pious flame of your heart, being, as you know,. a sharer in the same. Read Tychonius³ whom you know well, not that you will approve everything he says, for you know well what you have to guard against in him. It seems to me, however, that he has dealt vigorously with this question, and has solved it; namely, how the bond of unity is to be preserved if we have to tolerate abuses and even accursed deeds which, perhaps, we are not able to correct...

    • 250 To Auxilius
      (pp. 239-242)

      That honorable man, our son, Count Classicianus,² has written me a letter complaining bitterly that he has suffered the injury of excommunication from your Holiness, claiming that he came to the church with a small retinue of attendants befitting his rank and made an agreement with you that you would not put his salvation in danger by favoring those who swore falsely on the Gospel, asking for help against a breach of faith in the very house of faith itself. He says that then, while thinking of what wrong they might have done, they left the church of their own...

    • 250A To Classicianus
      (pp. 242-243)

      I greatly desire, with the Lord’s help, to take up in our council and, if need be, to write to the apostolic see questions concerning those who bind under excommunication a whole household, that is, many souls, because of one person’s sin, my special object being that no one should depart from the body without baptism; also, whether it is our duty to drive from the church persons who take refuge there in order to break faith with those who have given bail for them. In this manner, a decision may be made and strengthened by unanimous authority concerning the...

    • 251 To Pancarius
      (pp. 243-244)

      Inasmuch as the priest Secundinus was not disliked by the people of Germanicia² before your Reverence arrived, I do not know how it happens that they are now ready to accuse him of all sorts of crimes, as you have written, my beloved lord and deservedly honored son. However, we cannot possibly disregard the objection they seem to make against the priest, if, indeed, those who make the objection are Catholics, for we neither can nor should accept the charges of heretics against a Catholic priest. Hence, in this matter let your Prudence first establish that there are no heretics...

    • 252 To Felix
      (pp. 244-244)

      Your reverence knows how careful the Church and the bishops have to be to protect the interests of all men, but most particularly of wards. Consequently, after receiving your letter and a copy of the letter of the honorable man, our brother,² I neither could nor should entrust the girl to anyone at random, especially as he had confided her to the care of the Church,³ beloved lord, deservedly honored and esteemed brother. Therefore, I await his coming and, if any action is to be taken, I will consider it in his presence and will do whatever the Lord directs...

    • 253 To Benenatus
      (pp. 245-245)

      The man through whom I greet your Holiness is one whose faith and true devotion to the Church give us joy. He wanted to go to your Benignity with my letter, my beloved lord and revered brother. And since I have heard what you are thinking of doing, if it is true—and I wonder if it is true—you know how you should provide for the Catholic Church as father and bishop, and not enter into dealings with any unreliable person²—if, however, as I said, what I heard is true—but, rather, with a Catholic household, through which...

    • 254 To Benenatus
      (pp. 245-246)

      The girl about whom your Holiness wrote me is so disposed that, if she were old enough to choose, she would not marry anyone. But, in truth, she is of such an age that, even if she had an inclination to marry, she ought not yet to be given or betrothed to any man. Over and above this, my dear lord and revered brother Benenatus, God gives her His protection in the Church to shield her from unprincipled men, not to allow me to hand her over to whomever I choose, but to prevent her from being carried off by...

    • 255 To Rusticus
      (pp. 247-247)

      Although I wish nothing but good to you and all your household, and not only the blessings of happiness in the present life, but also those which belong to eternal life in the world to come—in which you have not yet been induced to believe—nevertheless, my dear lord and esteemed son, I have written to my holy brother and fellow bishop, Benenatus, what seemed sufficient about my sentiments regarding the girl whose hand you are asking, namely, that I would not yet venture to make any promise. You surely know that even if it were in my unchallenged...

    • 256 To Christinus
      (pp. 248-248)

      Your letter gave me the news that you were longing for my letter, but brother James came as a better equipped witness of your longing affection for me because he told me, out of his own experience, more pleasant things about you than that poor little page could tell. I congratulate your Benignity and I give thanks to the Lord our God, whose gift it is, for your Christian heart, my deservedly revered lord, sincerely cherished and much desired brother. You ask me to seek you in letters, but I seek you in heart’s affection which surpasses all letters, and...

    • 257 To Orontius
      (pp. 249-249)

      I thank your Excellency for having taken the trouble to write me an advance notice of your coming, and for having sent me a greeting before the meeting,² so that I might enjoy hearing you before I see you, and might look forward to your long-desired acquaintance the more eagerly and ardently because of the foretaste, so to speak, of epistolary comfort, which I have savored with a greater pleasure and gratitude, my excellent lord, deservedly honored and cherished son. I return the compliment of this answer which is due to your deserts and to your thoughtful courtesy, rejoicing in...

    • 258 To Marcianus
      (pp. 250-253)

      I have torn myself away from my many duties, or, rather, I have slipped away and, so to speak, stolen myself away from them to write to you, my oldest friend, although I did not have you as a friend so long as I did not possess you in Christ. You know, of course, how friendship was defined by Tully, ‘the greatest writer of the Roman tongue,’ as someone² called him. He said, and he spoke with perfect truth: ‘Friendship is the agreement on things human and divine, joined with kindliness and love.’³ You used to agree with me at...

    • 259 To Cornelius
      (pp. 253-257)

      You have written asking me to send you a long letter of condolence, alleging that you are in deep grief over the death of your excellent wife, and you give as an example what St. Paulinus did for Macarius.² Your wife has indeed been admited to the company of faithful and chaste souls, and she neither cares for nor seeks human praise, but, since eulogies are delivered for the sake of the living, the first thing for you to do, if you wish to be comforted by hearing her praised, is to live such a life that you may deserve...

    • 260 Audax to Augustine
      (pp. 257-258)

      I am grateful to your Blessedness for your willingness to receive my attempts at literary expression, for the boldness² of good confidence is given to sons when it is bedewed with rain from the fount of their father. Therefore, I appealed to you, dear bishop, not in order to receive a stingy drink offering³ from your generous heart, but to draw copiously from the great river of your riches. I craved the treasure of wisdom, but I received less than I wished, although one should not call less a gift bestowed by Augustine, the oracle of the Law, the consecrator...

    • 261 To Audax
      (pp. 258-261)

      Your short letter, with its pressing demand for a long letter from me, was not displeasing to me; on the contrary, it gave me pleasure, not that I could easily satisfy your greedy appetite, but I do congratulate your Charity because what you ask is good, although you are not asking it of the right person. It is not the ability to write you a long letter which fails me, but the leisure, deeply immersed as I am in Church cares from which I can scarcely secure a few little drops of time for relief, either to think out something,...

    • 262 To Ecdicia
      (pp. 261-269)

      After reading your Reverence’s letter and questioning the bearer on the points that remained to be asked, I felt a very deep regret that you had chosen to act so to your husband that the edifice of continence which he had begun to rear should have collapsed into the melancholy downfall of adultery by his failure to persevere. If, after making a vow of chastity to God and carrying it out in act and in disposition, he had returned to carnal intercourse with his wife, he would have been a source of grief, but how much more is he to...

    • 263 To Sapida
      (pp. 270-273)

      I accept the gift which you wished me to receive, made by the good and devoted labor of your hands, because I see that you are in need of comfort, and I did not wish to add to your sorrow, especially as you imagined that it would be no slight solace to you if I were to wear the tunic which you made for your brother, a holy minister of God, who has left the land of the dying and stands in need of no perishable things. I have therefore done as you wished, and have not refused to your...

    • 264 To Maxima
      (pp. 273-276)

      Much as your holy zeal delights us, it also saddens us in turn, because you inform us that your province² is greatly endangered by poisonous and deadly errors. But, as it was foretold that those things were to be, we should not wonder that they arise but watch that they do not hurt us. God our Deliverer would not allow these things to arise if it were not to the advantage of His saints to be trained by temptations of this kind. For, those who neglect to convert and amend themselves while they are in this life, and who stubbornly...

    • 265 To Seleuciana
      (pp. 276-281)

      I have read your letter with pleasure at the news of your health, and I am making no delay in answering what you wrote. In the first place, I am surprised that your Novatian² friend should say that Peter was not baptized, when shortly before you wrote that he said the Apostles were baptized. Where he got the idea that among the baptized Apostles Peter was not baptized I do not know, and I am sending you a copy of your letter, in case you have none, so that you may examine it more carefully and give me an answer...

    • 266 To Florentina
      (pp. 282-285)

      Your holy purpose and the ‘chaste fear of the Lord, enduring forever,’² which is entwined in your heart have roused me to show my considerable interest in you, not only by my prayers to God, but also by my advice to you. This I have done more than once in the letters I sent to your Reverence’s mother, a lady I mention with due respect. As she was so kind as to write me that you wished to receive a letter from me first, and that you would not be silent but would set forth your desire in answering it,...

    • 267 To Fabiola
      (pp. 285-286)

      I have read the letter of your Holiness and, although it is an answer to mine, I feel impelled by the obligation of answering it. For you grieve over the pilgrimage through which we attain to rejoice forever with the saints, and you rightly give first place to the longing for our heavenly country where we shall not be separated by earthly distance, but shall rejoice always in the contemplation of the One. You are happy in dwelling faithfully on the thought of such things, happier in loving them, and you will be most happy in attaining them. But examine...

    • 268 To his congregation, in behalf of Fascius
      (pp. 286-288)

      The well-known and often-proved generosity of your Holiness has given me a confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ that makes me rely on it in absence as I have always rejoiced in it when present. Yet I am always with you in spirit, not only because the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ unceasingly pours out its fragrance, but also because you do not allow me who serve you in the Gospel to endure hardship. Our brother Fascius¹ was being pressed for payment of a debt of seventeen soldi² by the tribute-collectors, and, as he could not at that time...

    • 269 To Nobilius
      (pp. 289-289)

      The ceremony² to which your brotherly affection invites me is so important that my will might drag my poor body to you if weakness did not hold it back. I might have come if it were not winter, I might have disregarded winter if I were young, for either the warmth of youth would have borne the rigor of cold or the warmth of summer would have tempered the chill of age. But as it is, my holy lord, saintly and revered brother and fellow priest, I cannot bear so long a journey in winter with the chill of advanced...

    • 270 To Augustine
      (pp. 289-290)

      When I traveled to the city of Leges some time ago, I was very much grieved at not being able to find all of you there. For I found half of you² and, so to speak, a part of your soul in my dearest Severus,³ which made me feel somewhat joyful. I should have rejoiced perfectly if I had found the whole of you. Consequently, I was happy in the part of you that I found, and I was wholly sad on account of the part of you that I could not see at all. So I said to my...

  5. INDEX
    (pp. 293-317)