EPISTLE XVIII TO JOHN, BISHOP Gregory to John, Bishop of Constantinople

EPISTLE XVIII

 TO JOHN, BISHOP  Gregory to John, Bishop of Constantinople

 Aghios Gregorios

At the time when your Fraternity was advanced to Sacerdotal dignity, you remember what peace and concord of the churches you found. But, with what daring or with what swelling of pride I know not, you have attempted to seize upon a new name, whereby the hearts of all your brethren might have come to take offense. I wonder exceedingly at this, since I remember how thou wouldest fain have fled from the episcopal office rather than attain it. And yet, now that thou hast got it, thou desirest so to exercise it as if thou hadst run to it with ambitious intent. For, having confessed thyself unworthy to be called a bishop, thou hast at length been brought to such a pass as, despising thy brethren, to covet to be named the only bishop. And indeed with regard to this matter, weighty letters were addressed to your Holiness by my predecessor Pelagius of holy memory; in which he annulled the acts of the synod, which had been assembled among you in the case of our once brother and fellow-bishop Gregory, because of that execrable title of pride, and forbade the archdeacon whom he had sent according to custom to the threshold of our Lord, to celebrate the solemnities of mass with you. But after his death, when I, unworthy, succeeded to the government of the Church, both through my other representatives and also through our common son the deacon Sabinianus, I have taken care to address your Fraternity, not indeed in writing, but by word of mouth, desiring you to restrain yourself from such presumption. And, in case of your refusing to amend, I forbade his celebrating the solemnities of mass with you; that so I might first appeal to your Holiness through a certain sense of shame, to the end that, if the execrable and profane assumption could not be corrected through shame, strict canonical measures might be then resorted to. And, since sores that are to be cut away should first be stroked with a gentle hand, I beg you, I beseech you, and with all the sweetness in my power demand of you, that your Fraternity gainsay all who flatter you and offer you this name of error, nor foolishly consent to be called by the proud title. For truly I say it weeping, and out of inmost sorrow of heart attribute it to my sins, that this my brother, who has been constituted in the grade of episcopacy for the very end of bringing hack the souls of others to humility, has up to the present time been incapable of being brought back to humility; that he who teaches truth to others has not consented to teach himself, even when I implore him.

 

Consider, I pray thee, that in this rash presumption the peace of the whole Church is disturbed, and that it is in contradiction to the grace that is poured out on all in common; in which grace doubtless thou thyself wilt have power to grow so far as thou determinest with thyself to do so. And thou wilt become by so much the greater as thou restrainest thyself from the usurpation of a proud and foolish title: and thou wilt make advance in proportion as thou art not bent on arrogation by derogation of thy brethren. Wherefore, dearest brother, with all thy heart love humility, through which the concord of all the brethren and the unity of the holy universal Church may be preserved. Certainly the apostle Paul, when he heard some say, I am of Paul, I of Apollos, but I of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:13), regarded with the utmost horror such dilaceration of the Lord’s body, whereby they were joining themselves, as it were, to other heads, and exclaimed, saying, Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul (ib.)? If then he shunned the subjecting of the members of Christ partially to certain heads, as if beside Christ, though this were to the apostles themselves, what wilt thou say to Christ, who is the Head of the universal Church, in the scrutiny of the last judgment, having attempted to put all his members under thyself by the appellation of Universal? Who, I ask, is proposed for imitation in this wrongful title but he who, despising the legions of angels constituted socially with himself, attempted to start up to an eminence of singularity, that he might seem to be under none and to be alone above all? Who even said, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the starts of heaven: I will sit upon the mount of the testament, in the sides of the North: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High (Isaiah 14:13). For what are all thy brethren, the bishops of the universal Church, but stars of heaven, whose life and discourse shine together amid the sins and errors of men, as if amid the shades of night? And when thou desirest to put thyself above them by this proud title, and to tread down their name in comparison with thine, what else dost thou say but I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven? Are not all the bishops together clouds, who both rain in the words of preaching, and glitter in the light of good works? And when your Fraternity despises them, and you would fain press them down under yourself, what else say you but what is said by the ancient foe, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds? All these things when I behold with tears, and tremble at the hidden judgments of God, my fears are increased, and my heart cannot contain its groans, for that this most holy man the Lord John, of so great abstinence and humility, has, through the seduction of familiar tongues, broken out into such a pitch of pride as to attempt, in his coveting of that wrongful name, to be like him who, while proudly wishing to be like God, lost even the grace of the likeness granted him, and because he sought false glory, thereby forfeited true blessedness. Certainly Peter, the first of the apostles, himself a member of the holy and universal Church, Paul, Andrew, John, — what were they but heads of particular communities? And yet all were members under one Head. And (to bind all together in a short girth of speech) the saints before the law, the saints under the law, the saints under grace, all these making up the Lord’s Body, were constituted as members of the Church, and not one of them has wished himself to be called universal. Now let your Holiness acknowledge to what extent you swell within yourself in desiring to be called by that name by which no one presumed to be called who was truly holy. Was it not the case, as your Fraternity! knows, that the prelates of this Apostolic See which by the providence of God I serve, had the honor offered them of being called universal by the venerable Council of Chalcedon. But yet not one of them has ever wished to be called by such a title, or seized upon this ill-advised name, lest if, in virtue of the rank of the pontificate, he took to himself the glory of singularity, he might seem to have denied it to all his brethren.

 

But I know that all arises from those who serve your Holiness on terms of deceitful familiarity; against whom I beseech your Fraternity to be prudently on your guard, and not to lay yourself open to be deceived by their words. For they are to be accounted the greater enemies the more they flatter you with praises. Forsake such; and, if they must needs deceive, let them at any rate deceive the hearts of worldly men, and not of priests. Let the dead bury their dead (Luke 9:60). But say ye with the prophet, Let them be turned back and put to shame that say unto me, Aha, Aha (Psalm 69:4). And again, But let not the oil of the sinner lard my head (Psalm 140:5).

 

Whence also the wise man admonishes well, Be in peace with many: but have but one counselor of a thousand (Ecclus. 6:6). For Evil communications corrupt good manners (1 Corinthians 15:33). For the ancient foe, when unable to break into strong hearts, looks out for weak persons who are associated with them, and, as it were, scales lofty walls by ladders set against them. So he deceived Adam through the woman who was associated with him. So, when he slew the sons of the blessed Job, he left the weak woman, that, being unable of himself to penetrate his heart, he might at any rate be able to do so through the woman’s words. Whatever weak and secular persons, then, are near you, let them be shattered in their own persuasive words and flattery, since they procure to themselves the eternal enmity of God from their very frowardness in being seeming lovers.

 

Of a truth it was proclaimed of old through the Apostle John, Little children, it is the last hour (1 John 2:18), according as the Truth foretold. And now pestilence and sword rage through the world, nations rise against nations, the globe of the earth is shaken, the gaping earth with its inhabitants is dissolved. For all that was foretold is come to pass. The king of pride is near, and (awful to be said l) there is an army of priests in course of preparation for him, inasmuch as they who bad been appointed to be leaders in humility enlist themselves under the neck of pride. But in this matter, even though our tongue protested not at all, the power of Him who in His own person peculiarly opposes the vice of pride is lifted up for vengeance against elation. For hence it is written, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:6). Hence, again, it is said, Whoso exalteth his heart is unclean before God (Proverbs 16:5). Hence, against the man that is proud it is written, Why is earth and ashes proud (Ecclus. 10:9)? Hence the Truth in person says, Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased (Luke 14:11). And, that he might bring us back to the way of life through humility, He deigned to exhibit in Himself what He teaches us, saying, Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29). For to this end the only begotten Son of God took upon Himself the form of our weakness; to this end the Invisible appeared not only as visible but even as despised; to this end He endured the mocks of contumely, the reproaches of derision, the torments of suffering; that God in His humility might teach man not to be proud. How great, then, is the virtue of humility for the sake of teaching which alone He who is great beyond compare became little even unto the suffering of death! For, since the pride of the devil was the origin of our perdition, the humility of God has been found the means of our redemption. That is to say, our enemy, having been created among all things, desired to appear exalted above all things; but our Redeemer remaining great above all things, deigned to become little among all things.

 

What, then, can we bishops say for ourselves, who have received a place of honor from the humility of our Redeemer, and yet imitate the pride of the enemy himself? Lo, we know our Creator to have descended from the summit of His loftiness that He might give glory to the human race, and we, created of the lowest, glory in the lessening of our brethren. God humbled Himself even to our dust; and human dust sets his face as high as heaven, and with his tongue passes above the earth, and blushes not, neither is afraid to be lifted up: even man who is rottenness, and the son of man that is a worm.

 

Let us recall to mind, most dear brother, this which is said by the most wise Solomon. Before thunder shall go lightning, and before ruin shall the heart be exalted (Ecclus. 32:10); where, on the other hand it is subjoined, Before glory it shall be humbled. Let us then be humbled in mind, if we are striving to attain to real loftiness. By no means let the eyes of our heart be darkened by the smoke of elation, which the more it rises the more rapidly vanishes away. Let us consider how we are admonished by the precepts of our Redeemer, who says, Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3). Hence, also, he says by the prophet, On whom shall my Spirit rest, but on him that is humble, and quiet, and that trembleth at my words (Isaiah 66:2)? Of a truth, when the Lord would bring back the hearts of His disciples, still beset with infirmity, to the way of humility, He said, Whosoever will be chief among you shall be least of all (Matthew 20:27). Whereby it is plainly seen how he is truly exalted on high who in his thoughts is humbled. Let us, therefore, fear to be numbered among those who seek the first seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the market, and to be called of men Rabbi. For, contrariwise, the Lord says to His disciples, But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your master; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your Father upon the earth, far one is your Father (Matthew 23:7, 8).

 

What then, dearest brother, wilt thou say in that terrible scrutiny of the coming judgment, if thou covetest to be called in the world not only father, but even general father? Let, then, the bad suggestion of evil men be guarded against; let all instigation to offense be fled from. It must needs be (indeed) that offenses come; nevertheless, woe to that man by whom the offense cometh (Matthew 18:7). Lo, by reason of this execrable title of pride the Church is rent asunder, the hearts of all the brethren are provoked to offense. What! Has it escaped your memory how the Truth says, Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a mill stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Ib. 5:6)? But it is written, Charity seeketh not her own (1 Corinthians 13:4). Lo, your Fraternity arrogates to itself even what is not its own. Again it is written, In honor preferring one another (Romans 12:10). And thou attemptest to take the honor away from all which thou desirest unlawfully to usurp to thyself singularly. Where, dearest brother, is that which is written, Have peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)? Where is that which is written, Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9)? It becomes you to consider, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. But still, though we neglect to consider, supernal judgment will be on the watch against the swelling of so great elation. And we indeed, against whom such and so great a fault is committed by this nefarious attempt, — we, I say, are observing what the Truth enjoins when it says, If thy brother shall sin against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of one or two witnesses every word may be established. But if he will not hear them, tell it unto the Church. But if he will not hear the Church, let hint be to thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:15). I therefore have once and again through my representatives taken care to reprove in humble words this sin against the whole Church; and now I write myself. Whatever it was my duty to do in the way of humility I have not omitted. But, if I am despised in my reproof, it remains that I must have recourse to the Church. Wherefore may Almighty God show your Fraternity how great love for you constrains me when I thus speak, and how much I grieve in this case, not against you, but for you. But the case is such that in it I must prefer the precepts of the Gospel, the ordinances of the Canons, and the welfare of the brethren to the person even of him whom I greatly love. I have received the most sweet and pleasant letter of your Holiness with respect to the case of the presbyters John and Athanasius about which, the Lord helping me, I will reply to you in another letter; for, being surrounded by the swords of barbarians, I am now oppressed by such great tribulations that it is not allowed me, I will not say to treat of many things, but hardly even to breathe.

 

Given in the Kalends of January; Indiction

 

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EPISTOLA XVIII. AD JOANNEM EPISCOPUM. Quid cum Joanne tum ipse, tum decessor Pelagius, egerint, ob usurpatum episcopi universalis titulum. Ab hoc ut abstineat rogat, multisque urget momentis. Cavendum ipsi ab adulatoribus.

 

 [0738B] Gregorius Joanni episcopo Constantinopolitano.

 

Eo tempore quo fraternitas vestra in sacerdotalem honorem provecta est, quantam Ecclesiarum pacem atque concordiam invenerit recolit. Sed quo ausu, quove tumore nescio, novum sibi cunata est nomen arripere, unde omnium fratrum corda potuissent ad scandalum pervenire. Qua in re vehementer admiror, quia ne ad episcopatum venire potuisses, fugisse velle te memini. Quem tamen adeptum ita exercere desideras, ac si ad eum ambitioso desiderio cucurrisses. Qui enim indignum te esse fatebaris ut episcopus dici debuisses, ad hoc quandoque perductus es, ut, despectis fratribus, episcopus appetas solus vocari. Et quidem hac de re sanctae memoriae decessoris mei Pelagii gravia ad sanctitatem vestram  [0738C] scripta transmissa sunt. In quibus synodi, quae apud vos de fratris quondam et coepiscopi nostri Gregorii causa congregata est, propter nefandum elationis vocabulum, acta dissolvit, et archidiaconum, quem juxta morem ad 742 vestigia dominorum transmiserat, missarum vobiscum solemnia celebrare prohibuit. Post ejus vero obitum, cum indignus ego ad Ecclesiae regimen adductus sum, et ante per alios responsales meos, et nunc per communem filium Sabinianum diaconum alloqui fraternitatem vestram ut a tali se praesumptione compesceret, non equidem scripto, sed nudo sermone curavi. Et si emendare nolles, eum missarum solemnia cum fraternitate vestra celebrare prohibui, ut sanctitatem vestram prius sub quadam verecundiae reverentia pulsarem, quatenus si  [0738D] emendari nefandus ac profanus tumor verecunde non posset, tunc ad ea debuisset quae sunt districta atque canonica perveniri. Et quia resecanda vulnera prius leni manu palpanda sunt, rogo, deprecor, et quanta possum dulcedine exposco, ut fraternitas  [0739A] vestra cunctis sibi adulantibus atque erroris nomen deferentibus contradicat, nec stulto ac superbo vocabulo appellari consentiat. [a [0739D] EPIST. XVIII [Al. 38].—Vatic. D et Rhem., vere enim infelix dico.]  Vere enim flens dico, atque ex intimo viscerum dolore peccatis meis deputo, quod ille meus frater nuncusque ad humilitatem reduci non valuit, qui ad hoc in episcopatus gradu constitutus est, ut aliorum animas ad humilitatem reducat: quod ille qui veritatem docet alios, semetipsum docere nec me quoque deprecante, consensit.

 

Perpende, rogo, quia in hac praesumptione temeraria pax totius turbatur Ecclesiae, et gratiae contradicitur communiter omnibus effusae. In qua nimirum ipse tantum crescere poteris, quantum penes temetipsum decreveris. Tantoque major efficeris, quanto te a  [0739B] superbi et stulti vocabuli usurpatione restringis. Atque in tantum proficis, in quantum tibi non studueris derogando fratribus arrogare. Humilitatem ergo, frater charissime, totis visceribus dilige, per quam cunctorum fratrum concordia, et sanctae universalis Ecclesiae unitas valeat custodiri. Certe Paulus apostolus cum audiret quosdam dicere: Ego sum Pauli, ego Apollo, ego vero Cephae  (I Cor. I, 13) , hanc dilacerationem corporis Domini, per quam membra ejus aliis quodammodo se capitibus sociabant, vehementissime perhorrescens exclamavit, dicens: Nunquid Paulus pro vobis crucifixus est, aut in nomine Pauli baptizati estis  (Ibid., 13) ? Si ergo ille membra dominici corporis [b [0739D] Vatic. A et B, caeteris extra Christum capitibus.]  certis extra Christum quasi capitibus, et ipsis quidem apostolis subjici partialiter evitavit,  [0739C] tu quid Christo universalis scilicet Ecclesiae capiti, in extremi judicii es dicturus examine, qui cuncta ejus membra tibimet conaris universalis appellatione supponere? Quis, rogo, in hoc tam perverso vocabulo, nisi ille ad imitandum proponitur, qui, despectis angelorum legionibus secum socialiter constitutis, ad culmen conatus est singularitatis erumpere, ut et nulli subesse et solus omnibus praeesse videretur? Qui etiam dixit: In coelum conscendam, super astra coeli exaltabo solium meum. Sedebo in monte testamenti, in lateribus Aquilonis. Ascendam super 743 altitudinem nubium, similis ero Altissimo  (Isai. XIV, 13) .

 

Quid enim fratres tui omnes universalis Ecclesiae episcopi, nisi astra coeli sunt? quorum vita simul et  [0739D] lingua inter peccata erroresque hominum quasi inter noctis tenebras lucent. Quibus dum cupis temetipsum vocabulo elato praeponere, eorumque nomen tui comparatione calcare, quid aliud dicis, nisi: In coelum conscendam, super astra coeli exaltabo  [0740A] solium meum? An non universi episcopi nubes sunt, qui et verbis praedicationis pluunt, et bonorum operum  [c [0739D] In recent., luce et miraculis, quae nullatenus leguntur in Vatic., Norm., Angl., Corb., Rhem., etc.]  luce coruscant? Quos dum vestra fraternitas despiciens, sub se premere conatur, quid aliud dicit nisi hoc, quod ab antiquo hoste dicitur: Ascendam super altitudinem nubium? Quae cuncta ego cum flens conspicio, et occulta Dei judicia pertimesco, augentur lacrymae, gemitus se in meo corde non capiunt, quod ille vir sanctissimus domnus Joannes, tantae abstinentiae atque humilitatis, familiarium seductione linguarum ad tantam superbiam erupit, ut in appetitu perversi nominis illi esse conetur similis, qui dum superbe esse similis Deo voluit, etiam donatae similitudinis gratiam amisit; et ideo veram beatitudinem perdidit, quia falsam gloriam quaesivit. [d [0739D] Ita Mss. Vat., Anglic., Norm., Corb., etc. Editi vero, Petrus apostolus primum membrum . . . Ecclesiae est . . . et tamen sub uno capite membra sunt Ecclesiae. In tribus Vatic. et Norm. pro singularium, legitur singularum.]  Certe  [0740B] Petrus apostolorum primus, membrum sanctae et universalis Ecclesiae, Paulus, Andreas, Joannes, quid aliud quam singularium sunt plebium capita? et tamen sub uno capite omnes membra. Atque ut cuncta brevi cingulo locutionis astringam, sancti ante legem, sancti sub lege, sancti sub gratia, omnes hi perficientes corpus Domini, in membris sunt Ecclesiae constituti, et nemo se unquam universalem [e [0739D] Excusi, vocare, faventibus nonnullis Vatic., at  [0740D] praetulimus vocari, quod habent Vatic. D, Anglic., Norm., Rhemens.]  vocari voluit. Vestra autem sanctitas agnoscat quantum apud se tumeat, quae illo nomine vocari appetit, quo vocari nullus praesumpsit, qui veraciter sanctus fuit.

 

Nunquid non, sicut vestra fraternitas novit, [f [0740D] Hujus concilii actione 3 referuntur quidam libelli supplices Romano pontifici oblati, in quibus aecumenicus seu universalis dicitur. Qui cum in concilio lecti fuissent, titulum hunc concilium minime reprobavit. Idem dicendum de oratione Paschasini hac in actione relata, in qua scilicet papam eodem donat titulo.]  per venerandum Chalcedonense concilium hujus apostolicae sedis antistites, cui Deo disponente deservio, universales oblato honore vocati sunt? Sed tamen nullus  [0740C] unquam tali vocabulo appellari voluit, nullus sibi hoc temerarium nomen arripuit, ne si sibi in pontificatus gradu gloriam singularitatis arriperet, hanc omnibus fratribus denegasse videretur.

 

Sed haec scio quia vestrae sanctitati ab illis oriuntur qui vobis deceptiosa familiaritate deserviunt, contra quos peto ut vestra fraternitas solerter invigilet, nec se eorum verbis fallendum praebeat. Tanto enim majores hostes credendi sunt, quanto magis laudibus adulantur. Relinque tales; et si omnino decepturi sunt, saltem terrenorum hominum, et non sacerdotum corda decipiant. [g [0740D] Excusi, sine mortuos sepelire etc.]  Sine mortuos ut sepeliant mortuos suos  (Luc. IX, 60) . Vos autem cum Propheta dicite: Avertantur statim erubescentes, qui dicunt mihi Euge, euge  (Psal. LXIX, 4) . Et rursus: Oleum autem  [0740D] peccatoris non impinguet caput meum  (Psal. CXL, 5) . Unde et bene quidam Sapiens admonet: Multi sint pacifici tui, consiliarius autem sit unus tibi de mille  (Eccli. VI, 6) . Corrumpunt enim bonos mores colloquia mala  (I Cor. XV, 33) . 744 Antiquus  [0741A] enim hostis cum robustum cor irrumpere non valet, subjunctas ei infirmas personas quaerit, et quasi contra atta moenia scalis appositis ascendit(Genes. III). Sic Adam per subjunctam mulierem decepit. Sic beato Job cum filios occidit, infirmam mulierem reliquit  (Job II, 10) , ut qui ejus cor per se minime poterat, saltem si posset per mulieris verba penetraret. Quicunque ergo juxta vos infirmi ac saeculares sunt, in sua semper suasione atque adulatione frangantur, quia inde aeternas Dei inimicitias pariunt, unde ipsi perversi amatores videntur.

 

Certe olim clamabatur per apostolum Joannem, Filioli, novissima hora est  (I Joan. II, 18) ; secundum quod Veritas praedixit. Pestilentia et gladius per mundum saevit, gentes insurgunt gentibus, [h [0741D] Hic multa mutavimus, praeeuntibus Mss., Vatic. Norm., Corb., etc. In Vatic. D, qui a tribus aliis dissentit, legitur: terra concutitur, urbes cum habitatoribus suis, terra dehisciente, sorbentur. In Vulgatis: terra concutitur, orbis cum habitatoribus suis, terra dehiscente, sorbetur. Quae lectio ex alia corrupta conflata est. Infra, ubi legitur, sacerdotum ei praeparatur  [0742D] exercitus, olim legebatur, sacerdotum est praeparatus exitus; quam lectionem emendavit GUSSANV. quibus adjungere liceat quatuor Vatic. et Normannos omnes.]  terrae  [0741B] concutitur orbis, cum habitatoribus suis terra dehiscens solvitur. Omnia enim quae praedicta sunt fiunt. Rex superbiae prope est, et quod dici nefas est, sacerdotum ei praeparatur exercitus, quia cervici militant elationis, qui ad hoc positi fuerant ut ducatum praeberent humilitatis. Sed hac in re, etiamsi nostra lingua minime contradicat, illius virtus contra elationem in ultionem erigitur, qui superbiae vitio per semetipsum specialiter adversatur. Hinc enim scriptum est: Deus superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam  (Jac. IV, 6) . Hinc rursus dicitur: Immundus est apud Deum, qui exaltat cor  (Proverb. XVI, 5) . Hinc contra superbientem hominem scriptum est: Quid [i [0742D] In Editis, quid superbis, etc.]  superbit terra et cinis  (Eccli. X, 9) ? Hinc per semetipsam Veritas dicit: Omnis qui se exaltat,  [0741C] humiliabitur  (Luc. XIV, 11) . Quae ut nos ad viam vitae per humilitatem reduceret, in semetipsa dignata est quod nos admonet demonstrare, dicens: Discite a me, quia milis sum et humilis corde  (Matth. XI, 29) . Ad hoc namque unigenitus Dei Filius formam infirmitatis nostrae suscepit: ad hoc invisibilis, non solum visibilis, sed etiam despectus apparuit; ad hoc contumeliarum ludibria, illusionum probra, passionum tormenta toleravit, ut superbum non esse hominem doceret humilis Deus. Quanta igitur humilitatis virtus est, propter quam solam veraciter edocendam, is qui sine aestimatione magnus est, usque ad passionem mortis factus est parvus? Quia enim originem perditionis nostrae se praebuit superbia diaboli, instrumentum redemptionis nostrae inventa est humilitas  [0741D] Dei. Hostis quippe noster inter omnia conditus, videri supra omnia voluit elatus. Redemptor autem noster magnus manens supra omnia, fieri inter omnia dignatus est parvus.

 

Quid ergo nos episcopi dicimus, qui honoris locum ex Redemptoris nostri humilitate suscepimus, et tamen superbiam hostis ipsius imitamur? Ecce novimus Creatorem nostrum de suae celsitudinis culmine,  [0742A] ut humano generi daret gloriam, descendisse, et nos de infimis creati, de fratrum minoratione gloriamur. Humiliavit se usque ad nostrum pulverem Deus, et in coelo os suum ponit, et super terram lingua pertransit pulvis humanus, et non erubescit, non metuit extolli homo 745 putredo, et filius hominis vermis  (Job. XXV) . Reducamus ad animum frater charissime, hoc quod per sapientissimum Salomonem dicitur: Ante tonitruum praeibit coruscatio, et ante ruinam exaltabitur cor  (Eccli. XXXII, 14) . Ubi e diverso subjungitur: Ante gloriam humiliabitur. Humiliemur ergo in mente, si ad solidam conamur venire celsitudinem. Nequaquam per elationis fumum oculi cordis obscurentur, qui quanto magis excreverit, tanto celerius evanescit. Pensemus quid nos praecepta admoneant  [0742B] Redemptoris nostri, dicentis: Beati pauperes spiritu, quoniam ipsorum est regnum coelorum  (Matth. V, 3) . Hinc etiam per prophetam dicit: Super quem requiescet Spiritus meus, nisi super humilem, et quietum, et trementem sermones meos  (Isai. LXVI, 2) ? Certe cum Dominus ad humilitatis viam adhuc infirmantia discipulorum corda reduceret, dixit: Si quis vult inter vos primus esse, erit omnium minimus  (Matth. XX, 27) . Qua in re aperte cognoscitur quoniam ille veraciter sublimis est, qui in suis cogitationibus humiliatur. Formidemus ergo in illorum numero ascribi, qui primas in synagogis cathedras quaerunt, et salutationes in foro, et vocari ab hominibus rabbi. Quod contra discipulis Dominus dicit: Vos autem nolite vocari rabbi. Unus enim magister  [0742C] vester est; vos autem omnes fratres estis. Et Patrem nolite vocare vobis super terram, unus est enim Pater vester  (Matth. XXIII, 7, 8) .

 

Quid ergo, frater charissime, in illo terribili examine venientis judicii dicturus es, qui non solum pater, sed etiam generalis pater in mundo vocari appetis? Caveatur ergo malorum prava suggestio, fugiatur omnis [k [0742D] Vatic., D, instigatio diaboli.]  instigatio scandali. Oportet quidem ut veniant scandala, verumtamen vae homini illi per quem scandalum venit  (Matth. XVIII, 7) . Ecce ex hoc nefando elationis vocabulo Ecclesia scinditur, fratrum omnium corda ad scandalum provocantur. Nunquidnam mente excidit quod Veritas dicit: Qui scandalizaverit unum de pusillis istis qui in me credunt, expedit ei ut suspendatur mola asinaria in collo  [0742D] ejus, et demergatur in profundum maris  (Ibid.) ? Scriptum vero est: Charitas non quaerit quae sua sunt  (I Cor. XIII, 4) . Ecce vestra fraternitas sibi arrogat etiam aliena. Rursus scriptum est: Honore invicem praevenientes  (Rom. XIII, 10) . Et tu conaris eum omnibus tollere, quem tibi illicite desideras singulariter usurpare. Ubi est, frater charissime, quod scriptum est: Pacem habete cum omnibus et sanctimoniam,  [0743A] sine qua nemo videbit Deum  (Ibid.) ? Ubi est quod scriptum est: Beati pacifici, quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur  (Matth. V, 9) ?

 

Considerare vos convenit, ne qua radix amaritudinis sursum germinans impediat, et per illam coinquinentur multi. Quod tamen si considerare negligimus, contra tantae elationis tumorem judicia superna vigilabunt. Et nos quidem in quos talis tantaque per ausum nefarium culpa committitur, servamus quod Veritas praecepit, dicens: Si peccaverit in te frater tuus, vade, et corripe eum inter te et ipsum solum. Si te audierit, lucratus eris fratrem tuum. Si autem te non audierit, adhibe tecum adhuc unum vel duos, ut in ore duorum vel trium testium stet omne verbum. Quod si non audierit eos, dic Ecclesiae. Si  [0743B] autem Ecclesiam non audierit, sit tibi sicut ethnicus et publicanus  (Matth. XVII, 3)  . 746 Ego itaque per responsales meos semel et bis verbis humilibus hoc quod in tota Ecclesia peccatur, corripere studui, nunc per meipsum scribo. Quidquid facere humiliter debui, non omisi. Sed si in mea correptione despicior, restat ut Ecclesiam debeam adhibere.

 

Haec itaque dicens, omnipotens Deus fraternitati vestrae indicet quanto circa vos amore constringor, quantumque in hac causa non contra vos, sed pro vobis lugeo. In qua tamen praeceptis evangelicis, institutionibus canonum, utilitatibus fratrum personam praeponere non possum, nec ejus quem multum amo.

 

Scripta autem sanctitatis vestrae [l [0743D] In Vatic. B, dulcissimae atque suavissimae.]  dulcissima atque  [0743C] suavissima de causa presbyterorum Joannis et Athanasii suscepi, de qua vobis in subsequentibus Domino adjuvante respondebo, quia sub tantis tribulationibus  [m [0743D] Corb. et alii, praesertim Norm., circumfusis.]  circumfusus barbarorum gladiis premor, ut non dico multa tractare, sed mihi respirare vix liceat. [n [0743D] Nullis in Mss. hoc legimus, praeterquam in Colbert., ubi inscribitur indictio 4.]  Data Kalendis Januarii, indictione 13. 

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