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Epistle XVII.

To Maurentius.

Gregory to Maurentius, magister militum17411741    This letter is interesting as one of those which shew Gregory’s carefulness to retain influence over pious lay friends of position, and his uniform tone of courtesy in addressing them.  Maurentius appears to have been a military officer of studious habits in Sicily..

My most beloved son, Cyprian the deacon, had pleased me much by his return to me, if his whole self had returned to me.  But now that your Glory has stayed in Sicily, I know most certainly that he has returned indeed in body, but in mind has remained in Sicily.  Yet, in saying this, I rejoice with you for your quiet as much as I groan for my own occupations.  And to this I earnestly exhort you, that, if the pleasant savour of inward sweetness has touched the palate of your heart, your mind be so rapt within itself that all which sounds without, all that delights without, may be distasteful.  Moreover I commend you for avoiding concourses of men, seeing that a mind which desires to be renewed in God through the grace of compunction often relapses into its old state through evil conversation and words.  I have sought for some to join you in a society for sacred reading, but have found no one, and I exceedingly lament the scarcity of what is good.  And though I, a sinner, am very much occupied, yet, if you should wish to come to the threshold of the blessed apostle Peter, you will be able to have me as a close associate in the study of Holy Writ.  May Almighty God keep you under His heavenly protection, and grant you to remain defended against the snares of the ancient foe.

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