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87Book XII.

Epistle I.

To Dominicus, Bishop of Carthage.

Gregory to Dominicus, &c.

How abundant is the charity of your heart you shew by its interpreter—your tongue, while so seasoning the words of your epistles with its sweetness that all you write is pleasant and delightful.  Hence it comes that we embrace your Fraternity in the arms of love, though unable to do so in the body.  For it is the office of charity to supply to souls that are in concord what distance of place denies.  And since the sickness of our most loving brethren saddens us even as their health refreshes us, we give thanks to Almighty God, who has solaced our sadness by good news.  For, having heard that you had contracted a very severe illness, before the receipt of your letter we were in a state of great distress.  But since, when we are snatched from peril of death, it is uncertain, dearest brother, for what we are reserved, let us turn the time of respite to the profit of our souls, and, having to render our accounts to the coming Judge, let us fortify our cause before Him with tears and good works, that we may be counted worthy to have security given us with regard to the things that we have done.  For in secular causes also a kind judge frequently grants a respite to this end, that one who had not been prepared before may afterwards come to his trial prepared.  And what a thing it would be, were we to neglect for the salvation of the soul what we carefully attend to in matters of earthly concern!  And so, since, according to the words of the Apostle John, no one is without sin, let us call to mind enticements of thought, incontinence of tongue, deeds of transgression; and let us, while we may, with great knocking, do away with the stains of our iniquities, that our just and loving Redeemer may not execute vengeance according to our deservings, but according to His mercy be bent to pardon.  And, since we do not sufficiently fulfil our office by weeping for our own sins only, let us the more earnestly devote ourselves to the custody of the flock committed to us, and by persuading, by exhorting, by alarming, by preaching, so far as heavenly clemency gives us power, let us hasten to fulfil our office in very deed, that, through the bounty of our Creator, we may look for the longed for reward.  But, since we cannot do anything that is good without divine aid, let us implore Almighty God, most beloved brother, with united prayers, that He would direct us, with the flock committed to us, into the way of His commandments by the leading of His grace, and Himself, who by the gift of His mercy has willed us to have the name of shepherds, grant to us to understand and do what is well pleasing to Him.  Moreover, we have received with the charity wherewith you sent it the blessing of the blessed martyr Agileus, transmitted to us by your Holiness.  In the month of September, Indiction 5.

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