Fathers of the Church

Letter CLXXI: to Timothy, Bishop of Alexandria

Description

Leo congratulates Timothy on his election, warns him to be watchful against heresy, and asks him to send frequent reports to Rome.

Provenance

Leo had persuaded the new Emperor of Constantinople, Leo I, to remove the heretical and irregular patriarch, Timotheus Ailurus, from the See of Alexandria. A new and orthodox patriarch, Timotheus Salophaciolus, was chosen to fill his place, and received the congratulations of the pope in the last letter which Leo ever sent to the Orient. (Catholic Encyclopedia)

by Leo the Great in 460 | translated by Charles Lett Feltoe, M.A

Leo, the bishop, to Timothy, catholic bishop of the church of Alexandria.

I. He congratulates him on his election, and bids him win back wanderers to the fold.

It is dearly apparent from the brightness of the sentiment quoted by the Apostle, that "all things work together for good to them that love GOD," and by the dispensation of GOD's pity, where adversities are received, there also prosperity is given. This the experience of the Alexandrine church shows, in which the moderation and long suffering of the humble has laid up for themselves great store in return for their patience: because "the LORD is nigh them that are of a contrite heart, and shall save those that are humble in spirit," our noble Prince's faith being glorified in all things, through whom "the right-hand of the LORD hath done great acts," in preventing the abomination of antichrist any longer occupying the throne of the blessed Fathers; whose blasphemy has hurt no one more than himself, because although he has induced some to be partners of his guilt, yet he has inexpiably stained himself with blood. And hence concerning that which under the direction of Faith your election, brother, by the clergy, and the laity, and all the faithful, has brought about, I assure you that the whole of the LORD'S Church rejoices with me, and it is my strong desire that the Divine pity will in its loving-kindness confirm this joy with manifold signs of grace, your own devotion ministering thereto in all things, so that you may sedulously win over, through the Church's prayers, those also who have hitherto resisted the Truth, to reconciliation with GOD, and, as a zealous ruler, bring them into union with the mystic body of the catholic Faith, whose entirety admits of no division, imitating that true and gentle Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep, and, when one sheep wandered, drove it not back with the lash, but carried it back to the fold on His own shoulders.

II. Let him be watchful against heresy and send frequent reports to Rome.

Take heed, then, dearly beloved brother, lest any trace of either Nestorius' or Eutyches' error be found in GOD's people: because "no one can lay any foundation except that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus;" who would not have reconciled the whole world to GOD the Father, had He not by the regeneration of Faith adopted us all in the reality of our flesh. Whenever, therefore, opportunities arise which you can use for writing, brother, even as you necessarily and in accordance with custom have done in sending a report of your ordination to us by our sons, Daniel the presbyter and Timothy the deacon, so continue to act at all times and send us, who will be anxious for them, as frequent accounts as possible of the progress of peace, in order that by regular intercourse we may feel that "the love of GOD is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us." Dated the 18th of August, in the consulship of Magnus and Apollonius.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/XII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.