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Home > Fathers of the Church > Letters of St. Augustine > Letter 62

Letter 62 (A.D. 401)

Alypius, Augustine, and Samsucius, and the Brethren Who are with Them, Send Greeting in the Lord to Severus, Their Lord Most Blessed, and with All Reverence Most Beloved, Their Brother in Truth, and Partner in the Priestly Office, and to All the Brethren Who are with Him.

1. When we came to Subsana, and inquired into the things which had been done there in our absence and against our will, we found some things exactly as we had heard reported, and some things otherwise, but all things calling for lamentation and forbearance; and we endeavoured, in so far as the Lord gave His help, to put them right by reproof, admonition, and prayer. What distressed us most, since your departure from the place, was that the brethren who went thence to you were allowed to go without a guide, which we beg you to excuse, as having taken place not from malice, but from an excessive caution. For, believing as they did that these men were sent by our son Timotheus in order to move you to be displeased with us, and being anxious to reserve the whole matter untouched until we should come (when they hoped to see you along with us), they thought that the departure of these men would be prevented if they were not furnished with a guide. That they did wrong in thus attempting to detain the brethren we admit—nay, who could doubt it? Hence also arose the story which was told to Fossor, that Timotheus had already gone to you with these same brethren. This was wholly false, but the statement was not made by the presbyter; and that Carcedonius our brother was wholly unaware of all these things, was most clearly proved to us by all the ways in which such things are susceptible of proof.

2. But why spend more time on these circumstances! Our son Timotheus, being greatly disturbed because he found himself, altogether in spite of his own wish, in such unlooked for perplexity, informed us that, when you were urging him to serve God at Subsana, he broke forth vehemently, and swore that he would never on any account leave you. And when we questioned him as to his present wish, he replied that by this oath he was precluded from going to the place which we had previously wished him to occupy, even though his mind were set at rest by the evidence given as to his freedom from restraint. When we showed him that he would not be guilty of violating his oath if a bar was put in the way of his being with you, not by him, but by you, in order to avoid a scandal; seeing that he could by his oath bind only his own will, not yours, and he admitted that you had not bound yourself reciprocally by your oath; at last he said, as it became a servant of God and a son of the Church to say, that he would without hesitation agree to whatever should seem good to us, along with your Holiness, to appoint concerning him. We therefore ask, and by the love of Christ implore you, in the exercise of your sagacity, to remember all that we spoke to each other in this matter, and to make us glad by your reply to this letter. For we that are strong (if, indeed, amid so great and perilous temptations, we may presume to claim this title) are bound, as the apostle says, to bear the infirmities of the weak. Romans 15:1 Our brother Timotheus has not written to your Holiness, because your venerable brother has reported to all you. May you be joyful in the Lord, and remember us, our lord most blessed, and with all reverence most beloved, our brother in sincerity.

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Source. Translated by J.G. Cunningham. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102062.htm>.

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