Fathers of the Church
Epistle XV: to Clementina, Patrician
by Gregory the Great in 590-604 | translated by James Barmby, D.d
Gregory to Clementina, &c.
It has reached us by the report of a certain Abbot that your Glory has been told by certain evil-speakers that we have a pique against you. If this is so, whosoever have made up this story have been double towards you under a shew of sincerity, so as to shew themselves off as faithful, and wickedly cause you to doubt us. But I, glorious daughter, knowing thy good qualities of old, and especially the chastity which has been thy companion from youth, have ever regarded thee with great respect and affection. But, lest even now your Glory should suspect that my heart is changed, I declare that there is not in me a scruple of ill-feeling or anger towards you; but be assured that I evince paternal affection for you. One thing, however, that has been told me I ought. not to pass over in silence, lest there should begin to be a diminution of charity, if what needs to be said for amendment were suppressed.
For indeed it has been reported to me that, when any one has offended you, you retain soreness unremittingly. Now, if this is true, since the more I love you the more grieved I am, I beg that you would nobly rid yourself of this fault, and not suffer the seed of the enemy to grow to the detriment of your crop of well-doing. Let the words of the Lord's Prayer be brought back to your memory, and let not blame prevail with you over pardon. Let the goodness of your Glory get the better of transgressions, and by salubriously pardoning make the offender devoted to you more than persistent asperity can make him undevoted. Let there be left to him what may make him ashamed, and not kept up what may grieve him. For usually discreet remission has more effect for correction than strictness in executing vengeance; so much so that sometimes the one makes a man more faithful and subdued, while the other makes him obstinate and spiteful. And indeed we do not say this to you in order that you should abate your zeal for righteousness, but lest you should be in the least things such as you ought to be in the greatest. For, if ever the quality of a transgression requires severity, it should be so dealt with that both vengeance may correct the fault and grace not be denied afterwards to those that have been corrected. Seeing, then, that we warn you under the dictates of paternal affection for your soul's good, receive our words with the charity wherewith they are spoken, and take them to yourself for the advantage of your Glory, so that your good qualities may become clearer before men and very pure before Almighty God. But count on us, dearest daughter, confidently in all things, as indeed you may; and, since we always desire to hear of your prosperity, refresh us often by your letters.
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/XIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.