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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book VII, Letter 32

Book VII, Letter 32

To Anastasius, Presbyter.

Gregory to Anastasius, etc.

That a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things Matthew 12:35; Luke 6:45, this your Charity has shown, both in your habitual life and lately also in your epistle; wherein I find two persons at issue with regard to virtues; that is to say, yourself contending for charity, and another for fear and humility. And, though occupied with many things, though ignorant of the Greek language, I have nevertheless sat as judge of your contention. But, in very truth, you have, in my judgment, yourself conquered your opponent by the sentence, which I proffered to you during your contention, That there is no fear in charity,, but perfect charity casts out fear; because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in charity. I know then how much your Fraternity is made perfect in charity. And, since you love Almighty God much, you ought to presume on your neighbour much. For it is not places or ranks that make us neighbours to our Creator; but either our good deserts join us to Him, or our bad deserts separate us from Him. Since, then, it is still uncertain what any one is inwardly, how was it that you were afraid to write, ignorant as you are as to which of us two is the superior? And indeed that you live well I know, but I am conscious myself of being burdened by many sins. And though you are yourself a sinner, still you are much better than I, since you bear your own sins only, but I those also of the persons committed to me. In this, then, I look upon you as lofty, in this I look upon you as great, that in a great place and lofty before human eyes you have not felt yourself advanced at all. For therein, while honour is paid you by men outwardly, your mind is sunk into depths, because burdened by distracting cares. But to you Almighty God has done as it is written; He has laid down ascents in the heart, in the valley of tears Psalm 83:6. To me, however, you might have appeared far loftier, far more sublime, had you never undertaken the leadership of the monastery which is called Neas, seeing that in that monastery, as I hear, there is indeed an appearance of monks kept up, but many secular things are done under the garb of sanctity. But even to this I shall think that heavenly grace has brought you, if what in that place displeases Almighty God should be corrected under your guidance.

But, since there have been wont to be quarrels between the father of this same monastery and the pastor of the Church of Jerusalem, I believe that Almighty God has willed that your Love and my most holy brother and fellow priest Amos should be at the same time at Jerusalem for this end, that the quarrels which I have spoken of should be put an end to. Show, then, now how much you loved before. For I know that both of you are abstinent, both learned, both humble; whence the glory of our Saviour must needs be praised, according to the language of the Psalm, in timbrel and chorus Psalm 150:4. For in a timbrel the sound from the skin is dry, but in a chorus there is a concord of voices. What therefore is denoted by a timbrel but abstinence, and what by a chorus but unanimity? Since then by abstinence ye praise the Lord in timbrel, I beg that by unanimity ye praise Him in chorus. The Truth also in person says, Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another Mark 9:50. What is denoted by salt but wisdom, as Paul attests, who says, Let your speech be always in grace, seasoned with salt Colossians 4:6? Since, then, we know that you have salt through the teaching of the heavenly word, it remains that through the grace of charity you keep with all your hearts peace between yourselves. All this I say, dearest brother, because I love you both exceedingly, and am much afraid lest the sacrifices of your prayers should be stained by any dissension between you.

The blessing which you sent, first by Exhilaratus the Secundicerius , and afterwards by Sabinianus the deacon, I received with thanksgiving, since from a holy place it became you to send holy things, and to show by your very gift whom you serve continually. May Almighty God protect you with His right hand, and preserve you scatheless from all evils.

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Source. Translated by James Barmby. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 12. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1895.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/360207032.htm>.

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