Action Alert!

Fathers of the Church

Epistle VI: to Mauricius Augustus

Description

This epistle is from Book VII of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Gregory praises Mauricius' decison to raise Cyriacus from the charge of ecclesiastical affairs to the "government of souls".

Provenance

St. Gregory (b. 540 in Rome) was elected pope at the age of 50, serving from 590 to 604. In 14 years he accomplished much for the Church. England owes her conversion to him. At a period when the invasion of the barbarian Lombards created a new situation in Europe, he played a great part in winning them for Christ. At the same time, he watched equally over the holiness of the clergy and the maintenance of Church discipline, the temporal interests of his people of Rome and the spiritual interests of all Christendom. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade the taking of money for many services, and emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and victims of plague and famine. Gregory also reformed the liturgy, and it still contains several of his most beautiful prayers. The name "Gregorian chant" recalls this great Pope's work in the development of the Church's music. His commentaries on Holy Scripture exercised a considerable influence on Christian thought in the Middle Ages. Following his death in 604, his numerous epistles, including the following letter, were compiled into the Papal Register of Letters.

by Gregory the Great in 590-604 | translated by James Barmby, D.d

Gregory to Mauricius Augustus.

Almighty God, who has made your Piety to be the guardian of ecclesiastical peace, preserves you by the same faith which, through unity among priests, you preserve; and when you submit your heart humbly to the yoke of heavenly loving-kindness, it is brought to pass by heavenly grace that you tread your enemies under the foot of valour. For it cannot be of small advantage that, when John of holy memory had departed this life, your Piety long hesitated, and somewhat deferred the time, while seeking counsel in the fear of Almighty God, in order, to wit, that the cause of God might be ordered, as it should be, with great fear. Whence also I think that my brother and fellow-priest Cyriacus is proved to be exceedingly fit for pastoral rule, in that the long deliberation of your Piety has raised him to this degree. And we all know how diligent and how practised he has long been in the administration of ecclesiastical affairs. Whence also I doubt not that it has been brought about by Divine ordering that one who had administered the least things well should fitly undertake the greater, and should pass from the charge of affairs to the government of souls. Wherefore in all our prayers we beseech Almighty God to repay this good work to the Serenity of our lords and to their pious offspring both in the present world and also with a perpetual recompense, and to grant to my aforesaid brother and fellow-priest, who has been put over the Lord's flock, to shew himself fully solicitous in the care of souls; that he may be able irreprovably both to correct what is wrong in his subjects and to foster what is right unto further increase; to the end that the judgment of your Piety concerning him may be approved, not only before men, but also before the eyes of the Supernal Majesty.

The venerable men, George the presbyter and Theodore the deacon, in consideration of the command of my lords and the imminence of the winter season, I have not allowed to be delayed in this city.

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.