Fathers of the Church
Epistle XXX: to Secundus
by Gregory the Great in 590-604 | translated by James Barmby, D.d
Gregory to Secundus, servant of God at Ravenna.
Now that Castorius has returned and made known to us all that has been done between you and King Agilulph, we have taken care to send him back to you with all speed, lest any one should find an excuse against us on the ground of delay. Having learnt then from him all that is to be done, give the matter your earnest attention, and press in all ways for this peace to be arranged, since, as report goes, there are some who are trying to hinder it. On this account make haste to act strenuously, that your labour may not remain without effect. For both these parts and various islands are already placed in great danger.
Stir up with such words as thou canst use our brother the bishop Marinianus: for I suspect that he has fallen asleep. For certain persons have come to me, among whom were some aged mendicants, who were questioned by me as to what they had received and from whom they had received it; and they told me particularly how much had been given them on their journey, and by whom it had been given. But, when I enquired of them what my aforesaid brother had given them, they replied that they had asked him, but had received nothing at all from him; so that they did not get even bread on the way, though it has always been the familiar usage of that Church to give to all. For they said, He answered saying, I have nothing that I can give you. And I am surprised, if he who has clothes, money, and storehouses, has nothing to give to the poor.
Tell him, then, that with his place he should change his disposition too. Let him not believe reading and prayer alone to be enough for him, so that he should think to sit apart, and nowise fructify with his hand; but let him have a liberal hand; let him succour those who suffer need; let him believe the wants of others to be his own; since, if he has not these things, be bears but a bishop's empty name. I did indeed give him some admonitions about his soul in my letter; but he has sent me no reply whatever; whence I suppose that he has not even deigned to read them. For this reason it is needless now for me to admonish him at all in my letter to him; and so I have written only what I was able to dictate as his adviser in wordly matters. For it is not incumbent on me to tire myself, by dictation for a man who does not read what is said to him. Let, then, thy I ove speak to him about all these things privately, and admonish him how he ought to demean himself, lest through present negligence he lose the advantage of his former life, which God forbid.
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.